In this post: Learn more about the benefits of GREENGUARD gold certified furniture and how it can improve your overall health and well-being.
Using GREENGUARD to help find the best furniture for your home
A lot of us would like to buy products we can feel good about. We want to know that the things we put in our homes are safe for our families and friends and that they are coming from responsible manufacturers. This truth means that there is sadly a good amount of “greenwashing” coming from companies who want to appeal to thoughtful shoppers but don’t have the credentials to back up their green claims.
That’s where sustainable certifications comes in – a select number of endorsements can help you identify companies truly committed to making sustainable products. Among 3rd party certifications, GREENGUARD is one of the key endorsements to seek out.
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The history of the GREENGUARD certification
The GREENGUARD seal of approval is offered by the company UL, formerly known as Underwriters Laboratories. UL has been a well-respected auditor of consumer product safety for well over 100 years. You may have noticed the UL mark on products in other categories including building materials, electronics, appliances, and lighting.
GREENGUARD certification, in particular, was developed in 2002 as awareness and concern about indoor air quality and the dangers of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) increased. The goal of GREENGUARD certification was to make it easier for shoppers to weed out products that may have a negative impact on the air quality and health of the people in their homes.
The GREENGUARD testing process is quite rigorous with the goal of making sure chemical emissions are in compliance with UL's established standards. I would strongly recommend visiting UL's website to get all the specifics on their testing, as I am not a scientist and their testing criteria could change over time. According to UL, some key takeaways include that they test products in a controlled chamber, and will simulate typical use conditions. They collect air samples over a period of time in order to measure any VOCs omitted and those samples are then analyzed. Products that meet established standards are certified and listed in ULs SPOT database.
How GREENGUARD certified furniture brands can improve indoor air quality
To understand how limiting exposure to VOCs can help improve your indoor air quality, it’s important to first understand what VOCs are. VOCs are chemicals that are found in many household items that can cause health problems, such as respiratory irritation, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, skin irritation, nausea, vomiting, confusion, memory loss, and some are even known or suspected to cause more serious illnesses like cancer.
In summary, VOCs are definitely no good. When you consider the amount of time you and your loved ones spend indoors, the potential negative impacts of poor air quality become that much clearer. Any steps you can take to limit your exposure to them is a step in the right direction for your health, especially if you suffer from allergies or other respiratory issues.
The difference between GREENGUARD certified furniture and GREENGUARD Gold certified furniture
So far we’ve focused on GREENGUARD certified furniture and how looking for the GREENGUARD logo is a great way to be sure that a product you’re bringing into your home won’t negatively impact your air quality. GREENGUARD Gold follows the same guidelines but goes a step further, setting even higher benchmarks for emissions. This designation was established as a way to find even better products for those who are more at risk, such as young children and the elderly. It is often sought after for use in places like schools and healthcare facilities.
How to find GREENGUARD and GREENGUARD Gold certified furniture brands
Finding GREENGUARD Gold certified furniture brands isn’t hard since most companies who go through this process are proud to display the designation. Many brands will display the GREENGUARD or GREENGUARD Gold certification label on their website or enable you to filter your search to find these products. You can also search for certified brands on the GREENGUARD SPOT or check out our list below.
10 GREENGUARD certified furniture manufacturers
Luckily for shoppers concerned about VOCs in their homes, there are quite a number of quality furniture manufacturers who prioritize GREENGUARD Gold certified furniture. Our list is below, and for more details around these brands, check out our Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Furniture Companies.
6. Medley is a newer entrant to the furniture market than some on this list. They’ve built focusing on 3rd party verifications into their business model and many of their products are GREENGUARD certified.
7. Avocado is a furniture brand that makes it easy to figure out which mattresses are GREENGUARD Gold certified by offering GREENGUARD as a product search filter. They do have a number of wood furniture options that are GREENGUARD Gold certified, as well. In case their GREENGUARD credentials weren't enough, they're also a certified B Corp!
8. Joybird has many of their fabrics reviewed by 3rd party testing companies and makes it easy to understand which of their fabrics are GREENGUARD Gold certified by making that a feature for each product.
GREENGUARD Gold certified kids furniture
We all want the best, safest products for our kids so it’s such a relief to see so many manufacturers putting emphasis on the GREENGUARD furniture brand and including GREENGUARD Gold certification for children’s products. Pottery Barn Kids, Crate & Barrel Kids, West Elm Kids, and Avocado all have robust assortments of GREENGUARD Gold certified products for children.
Keep in mind, however, that seeing the GREENGUARD Gold certification is just one step in making sure a product is safe for use by a child. Since GREENGUARD is focused on emissions, it will not certify the absence of other substances such as lead that can also be harmful to children. Make sure to inquire about other certifications and how a product was made, particularly if it comes from outside the U.S.
What are the limitations of GREENGUARD certified furniture?
GREENGUARD and GREENGUARD Gold certifications are a great step in the right direction of preserving the air quality in your home. That said, there are a few things additional things to consider. First, while GREENGUARD certification thresholds represent limits that are safe for most people, some people may still have reactions to even very low emissions levels. No one certification is going to be perfect for all people. If you know you have a particular sensitivity, it would be worthwhile to reach out to the manufacturer to better understand the materials that went into making a specific piece of furniture.
An additional limitation of GREENGUARD certification is that if you are interested in finding the safest and most sustainable furniture possible, there are more dynamics you’ll want to consider. This includes whether the materials used are recycled and/or recyclable, how eco-friendly they are, how far a piece will have to travel to reach your home, and how fairly the artisans who made the piece were treated. Quite often, manufacturers who care enough to seek the GREENGUARD certification also care about other elements of the product's sustainability and will be happy to share. It’s definitely always worth reaching out to learn more.
10 ways to improve indoor air quality
Improving indoor air quality is important for creating a healthy living environment. Limiting indoor air pollutants by looking for GREENGUARD certified furniture manufacturersis a great first step. Here are some others to consider:
1. Air things out. Proper ventilation can help remove indoor air pollutants. Open windows and doors when weather conditions permit, and use exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms to expel pollutants. Consider installing a whole-house ventilation system if possible.
2. Use air purifiers. Air cleaners can help remove pollutants from indoor air. Look for high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters that can capture things like dust, pollen, and pet dander. Consider placing air purifiers in the rooms you use the most or areas where you are the most concerned. (the bedroom of a child with allergies, for example)
3. Keep it clean. This is one area where I can’t lead by example, but smart people seem to believe that regular cleaning can help reduce things like dust, allergens, and pollutants in the air. Make sure your vacuum has HEPA filter and use it often. Dust surfaces with a damp cloth to prevent the spread of dust particles into the air. It's recommended to clean bedding, drapes, and upholstery regularly.
4. Dial down the moisture. The EPA indicates the best level is between 30% and 50% to discourage mold and dust mites. If you have areas of your house that are higher than this level, try using a dehumidifier or increase the ventilation.
5. Just say no. You’ve probably heard this before, but smoking is bad for indoor air quality so ask smokers to take it outside.
6. Use natural cleaning products. This one is a win-win because not only are there so many great natural cleaning products on the market but you can also make your own for much less than many store bought products. Most homemade cleaning recipes involve things commonly found in your home like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice.
7. Better living through less chemistry. Minimize the use of products that release pollutants into the air. Look for low-VOC or VOC-free options when it comes to indoor paint and look for natural alternatives to things like pesticides and air fresheners.
8. Plant it. We recently took a deep dive into plants with benefits – check it out! Certain plants like spider plants and peace lilies can help improve indoor air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.
9. Wipe those feet. Place doormats at entryways to prevent dirt, pollen, and other outdoor pollutants from being brought indoors. Start a policy of taking off your shoes at the door (bonus: your floors wills stay cleaner, too).
10. Testing, testing. Radon and carbon monoxide are invisible gases that can be harmful to your health. Consider testing your home for radon and installing carbon monoxide detectors to ensure safety
Look for GREENGUARD certified furniture on your next shopping trip!
We hope this helped you learn more about the benefits of looking for GREENGUARD furniture brands and GREENGUARD Gold certified products. Buying less-toxic, more environmentally friendly brands is something we can all do and one of the best ways we can make sure that more manufacturers prioritize responsible business practices.
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FAQs on GREENGUARD furniture brands
What are some of the details of GREENGUARD certification for furniture?
To receive the GREENGUARD Certification for furniture, GREENGUARD furniture manufacturers typically need to go through the following steps:
Product Testing: Manufacturers need to submit their furniture products to GREENGUARD for testing. These tests evaluate the emissions of potentially harmful chemicals, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, and other pollutants. The testing is conducted in controlled environmental chambers over a defined period to simulate real-world conditions.
Emission Limits: The tested furniture must meet specific emission limits set by GREENGUARD. These limits are designed to ensure that the products have low chemical emissions and contribute to healthier indoor air quality.
Certification Review: After testing, the collected data is reviewed by experts at GREENGUARD. They assess whether the product meets the required emission standards and guidelines. If the furniture passes the review, it can be granted the GREENGUARD Certification.
Certification Levels GREENGUARD Gold vs GREENGUARD certification for furniture is determined.
Certification Mark: Once a product receives the GREENGUARD Certification, the manufacturer is allowed to display the GREENGUARD mark on the certified furniture, products, and promotional materials. This mark provides assurance to customers and specifiers that the product has been tested and certified for low chemical emissions.
Annual Verification: The certification is not a one-time process. Manufacturers need to go through an annual verification process to ensure that the certified products continue to meet the emission standards. This ongoing monitoring helps maintain the credibility of the certification program.
It's important to note that the exact process and requirements may vary, so manufacturers interested in obtaining the GREENGUARD Certification for furniture should refer to the specific guidelines and procedures provided by the certification organization.
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