|Amelia Jones

Labels to Look For

In this article, we take a look at some of the labels you’ll find on our furniture. In doing so, we hope to communicate the quality and safety that these labels can assure, and how choosing alternative materials might negatively impact environmental and human health.
labels to look for

In a world where we are constantly bombarded with branded logos, symbols, and certifications, it’s hard to keep track of what they all mean. Sure, we have a general sense of symbols we look for or ingredients we try to avoid - but what do these things represent? And what do they not represent? In this article, we take a look at some of the labels you’ll find on our furniture. In doing so, we hope to communicate the quality and safety that these labels can assure, and how choosing alternative materials might negatively impact environmental and human health.

No Toxic Flame Retardants

  • What It Means: A flame retardant is a substance that is added to a material or textile in order to reduce its flammability. They are commonly used in the production of furniture, mattresses, and textiles to meet fire safety standards and to slow down the spread of a fire in the case of an accident. A “No Toxic Flame Retardants” label indicates that the item has been manufactured without the use of any chemicals identified as a risk to human health or the environment. In choosing a product with this label, consumers can avoid exposure to potentially harmful chemicals, protect their home air quality, and still ensure safety in terms of flammability.
  • The Alternative: Many toxic flame retardants are Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), which are hazardous man-made chemicals that negatively impact human and environmental health. Some of the most common flame retardants are Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs), shown to cause major damage to the endocrine system, especially to thyroid function. Some of the chemicals in BFRs are capable of bioaccumulation in humans and animals, meaning that over time the toxin builds up in our bodies and we are unable to eliminate it faster than it is accumulating. BFRs have been linked to hormone disruption, cancer, and reduced brain development in children. Additionally, when products (like furniture) that contain BFRs are discarded, the chemicals have potential to escape into the soil and/or watershed.

No Added Formaldehydes

  • What It Means: Formaldehyde is a chemical compound commonly used in products either as a preservative or as part of the manufacturing process. In the furniture and construction industries, it can often be found in pressed-wood products that contain formaldehyde resins. When we say, “No Added Formaldehydes,” we mean that we have made a conscious effort to avoid using formaldehyde in any part of our furniture production, such as in our sofa frames and cushions. Consumers concerned with indoor air quality and potential health effects associated with formaldehyde exposure can rest easy knowing that our furniture is safe, comfortable, and stylish.
  • The Alternative: Formaldehyde is a volatile organic compound (VOC) that can enter your home’s air simply from a product containing formaldehyde being in your space. Of the many types of VOCs, formaldehyde is one that can be readily measured inside your home when assessing indoor air pollution. While exposure to formaldehyde can cause smaller issues like skin irritation, prolonged or high exposure can also cause respiratory complications. As a known carcinogen to humans, we think it’s best to keep it out of our home!

No Off-Gassing

  • What It Means: Off-gassing is a process in which VOCs and/or other airborne substances are released into the environment from a product, often resulting in indoor air pollution - this process poses similar risks as discussed above. The “No Off-Gassing” label verifies that a product has been designed and manufactured to eliminate this release of harmful chemicals into the air. In choosing better, safer materials, we are able to limit the release of volatile substances into a home where every person and pet should be able to breathe easy.
  • The Alternative: Off-gassing is not just a concern in the furniture industry - flooring, paint, and other household products also risk polluting indoor air. Off-gassing has similar risks to formaldehydes, including respiratory and skin irritation, but can also cause allergic reactions, headaches, nausea, and other negative health effects. Formaldehyde and phthalates, two common off-gassed chemicals, have been associated with long-term health effects. Furthermore, some off-gassed chemicals don’t just hurt your home air quality but can also contribute to outdoor air pollution - not a good look!

Zero-VOC Finishes

  • What It Means: As we have covered before, VOCs are chemicals that seep into our air and contribute to indoor air pollution, health risks, and sometimes even outdoor air pollution. A “finish” is a coating that is typically applied in the furniture making process, either to paint, varnish, stain, or seal the wood. By choosing “Zero-VOC Finishes,” we are actively selecting finishes with no VOCs, keeping our indoor and outdoor air quality safe and keeping our customers' skin and respiratory systems happy.
  • The Alternative: Finishes that contain VOCs can put people at risk for symptoms described above, including  respiratory irritation, headaches and nausea, allergic reactions, and aggravation of pre-existing conditions like asthma or COPD. It's important to consider that while "Zero VOC-Finishes" implies that the finishes themselves do not contain VOCs, other components of the product or the application process may still contribute to VOC emissions. To be sure that a product does not contain VOCs in any part of its body, always make sure to check the label and choose a trusted brand.

As a team, we strive to design with materials that aren’t harmful to environmental, human, or pet health. Knowing what we know about the chemicals used in the furniture making process, we hold ourselves to the standard that we wouldn’t put anything in our furniture that we wouldn’t want in our own homes. As science on the safety of materials continues to develop, we are responsive to new information and will adapt with it. By prioritizing the well-being of our customers, their loved ones, and the planet, we believe that collectively making informed choices in furniture manufacturing will contribute to a brighter, toxin-free future for all.