This is a post written in collaboration with Haiku Designs—an Elephant partner. We’re honored to work with anyone who is this dedicated to transforming our homes and offices into eco-friendly, “Zen Modern” spaces. ~ Ed.
“People don’t think about it—they eat organic, they exercise, but they don’t realize that a third of their lives is spent on a toxic mattress.” ~ Clay Phipps
It’s a buzzword we hear a lot these days.
It comes up in all sorts of scenarios and conversations—from what kind of food we eat to what type of clothing we wear.
But, do most of us even know what “eco-friendly” really means?
We asked Haiku Designs, based in Boulder, Colorado, who specialize in eco-friendly furniture and lifestyle choices around the home and office. They’re pretty obsessive about creating a healthier environment, both for the people they work with and the planet as a whole.
Here’s the run-down from them:
Most furniture today is made using a whole list of dangerous and toxic compounds and finishes. From particle board that off-gases formaldehyde, to chemical-based glues and finishes which often are toxic to the touch and also emit dangerous Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), traditional furniture manufacturing is not only an environmental concern in its construction and manufacturing processes, but is also for the end user.
After all, these toxic pieces of furniture end up in homes and offices across America, just off-gassing away…
Off-gassing? Never heard of it.
Off-gassing occurs when the chemicals used in the finish or manufacturing process release gas or emissions directly into the room. VOCs are chemicals that are unstable in room temperature. They release gas, which is more often than not of a harmful nature. The federal government does not regulate the amount of dangerous VOCs in furniture, but we now have several ratings systems, which significantly reduce the amount of chemical emissions allowed.
You know that strong smell that emanates from your out-of-the-box dining table, bed, or dresser? It often smells like nothing else you can quite put your finger on, and yet most of us brush it off as just that “brand new smell.” This is exactly what we should be concerned about, as this is most often the VOCs off-gassing. There is a whole list of chemicals in the VOC family and they are uniformly bad and dangerous to our health.
Check out the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s report on VOCs, here.
The kinds of health issues these can cause range from a compromised immune systems, to respiratory illnesses, to increased allergies and allergic responses. Long-term exposure to these and other chemicals used in furniture manufacturing can contribute to much more serious illnesses, too.
There is a better way to furnish our homes and offices. Eco-friendly furniture and natural mattresses and sleep systems that reduce or eliminate exposure to these types of dangerous compounds are at the heart of what Haiku Designs does.
There are also several stringent new furniture ratings systems that can help us make informed choices regarding the safety of our furniture purchases
The “E-1” certification is a classification system devised in the European Union that regulates how many contaminants furniture products can release into the environment. Another system designated in California is called “Carb2.” Both these ratings systems significantly reduce the levels of airborne toxic contaminants and formaldehyde. What this means to us as consumers is that furniture which meets either one of these two standards will be significantly more eco-friendly than products which do not have the certification.
Haiku Designs offers a wide selection of platform beds, dining room furniture, dresses, and modern bedroom collections which meet these furniture standards. It is essential to take care of our personal environment and lessen or eliminate our exposure to these toxic compounds, and we agree. But it’s not just about making our environments more eco, it’s also about improving our quality of life, and that starts with the spaces around us.
They also specialize in what they call “Zen Modern Living,” creating furniture selections that are simple in design and sophisticated in look to help create spaces of beauty, harmony, and relaxation.
“Eco-Friendly” is about More than just Ourselves.
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” ~ Unknown
Eco-friendly furniture is the best choice for our planet, and too. Some selections of eco-friendly furniture are made from sustainably-sourced resources such as bamboo, which is harvested like a grass and renewed every year or from FSC-certified forests, managed and harvested to insure sustainability. Haiku Designs’ bamboo dining room or bedroom furniture selections are also carbon sequesters, meaning they actually take carbon into the plant and bind it so it does not release into the atmosphere.
They work with several furniture manufacturers who make use of wood seconds and cut offs to create beautiful solid wood dining and bedroom furniture sets. These pieces that are normally thrown away are turned into something beautiful and useful.
Being eco-friendly is also about more than just the products, it’s about walking the talk.
And Haiku Designs does just that. They operate their company in an eco-friendly way, recycling all of their wood, paper, and cardboard products, as well as boxing materials. They ship locally, nationally, and across the world using only corn fiber foam packing peanuts and have invested in an extensive solar rooftop array to generate power, which is fed back into the electric grid by means of a net meter.
Being eco-friendy is about caring for and supporting our environment in everything we do, and in any way we can—both for the survival of our planet (and with it our own) in the long-term and for the good of our health in the short-term.
Waylon talks to Clay Phipps of Haiku Designs about differences between Eco Mattresses, Frames, Bedding vs. Conventional, & Why Mattress in a Box is Bad:
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren