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Latest In Organic Products: Furniture

Americans already have a taste for organic food and organic clothing. Now, the organic trend is making a mark on the world of furniture.

In The Early Show's "Trend Report" Tuesday, House & Garden magazine's special projects editor, Susanna Salk, shows some stylish examples.

According to Salk:

Such furniture is made with stuffing, upholstery fiber and wood certified as chemical-free. While organic furniture sales make up just a fraction of the $14 billion rung up by the organic industry, the trend is growing. Just as organic food has become acceptable in the mainstream, organic furniture is now moving in the same direction.

The most noticeable change during the past few years is who buys it. While in the past, organic furniture sales where primarily to people with chemical allergies, today a majority of sales are to consumers who want a "green" lifestyle.

From Brooklyn to Oregon, more stores are offering organic, but now, more than ever before, we're seeing a stronger design element among these organic products: form and function, commitment to beauty, and environmental preservation, all-in-one.

Organic used to mean sacrificing form, but now, the designs have gotten so nice that you'd never know they're organic. Ecology is uppermost in the design process priorities.

The idea is also to make the consumer feel good about what his or her money is going toward. As people become more aware that their daily life is filled with toxicity, many are "greening their home," meaning they're making it more environmentally friendly.

Not only are companies using chemical-free ingredients, but many stress easier assembly, so less packing material is used, meaning less gas is used for shipping. Some items are even carbon-neutral. For instance, a tree can be planted for each chair sold.

What is organic?

Organic refers to the way agricultural products, food and fiber, are grown and processed. Organic products are grown, raised or dyed without the use of synthetic chemicals, heavy metals or GMOs (genetically modified organisms, also called "genetically engineered"). They are free of toxins and irritants and are biodegradable.

What does "Certified Organic" mean?

"Certified Organic" means the item has been grown according to strict uniform standards set by the federal government. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees the National Organic Program, and makes sure any food labeled organic meets these standards in accordance with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990. However, the broadening scope of organic products has led to confusion about products claiming to have organic or natural ingredients, and who has authority over them. They include cosmetics and personal care items, as well as pet food, dietary supplements, textiles and fish. In the case of cosmetics, personal care items and textiles, the authority is the Food and Drug Administration. But the FDA isn't the only agency to co-regulate with the USDA when it comes to organics. The Federal Safety Inspection Service oversees meat labels, and the Environmental Protection Agency now performs NOP registration of pesticides. This leaves an enormous gray area that's not adequately monitored.

There isn't really an official certification process set up yet for upholstery/furniture. The upholstery lines featured on The Early Show are organic by construction, meaning all the fibers/fabrics are organically grown, the woods are reclaimed or sustainable, and adhesives are non-toxic. So, the whole process of making each component is done organically.

What are the benefits of organic products?

Choosing organic and or earth-friendly alternatives is a healthier option. It's chemical-free, so it's better for your skin and it's better to breathe in, especially for people with allergies. Also, organic products don't use harmful chemicals, which cause pollution, so the products are more sustainable. The benefits of organic items are in preserving the environment as well as our health.

How is organic different from recycled or reclaimed?

There is, technically, no such thing as organic furniture. There is earth-friendly furniture, which is covered with organic fabric and made with materials that are earth-friendly (recycled, reclaimed and/or low impact). Recycled and reclaimed are basically the same thing; with recycled furnishings, they generally process the material to re-use it, and reclaimed would mean it was something that was simply disassembled and reused.

What about the term sustainability?

The idea of sustainability is to encourage a way of thinking about resources that translates into significant lifestyle choices with an awareness of resource use, thereby permitting citizens to use less, waste less, reuse materials and conserve raw materials and energy in their lives. People who work in a daily way to conserve resources and help the environment are working toward sustainable living.

Go to Page 2 for specifics on products featured in the segment, and more.

Among the items Salk showed, with descriptions provided in large part by their manufacturers:

BEDROOM

BELLA TERRA BED
An upholstered platform-style bed by Bean Products — made with sustainable (meaning nothing has been destroyed in making it) wood so you can feel assured that the bed you're sleeping on has not destroyed or harmed the environment. The headboard consists of organic cotton and natural latex to eliminate synthetic foams and toxins. It is upholstered in your choice of 100 percent hemp or herringbone fabric. Even the stain is earth friendly. Fabric colors come in natural, black, espresso or chocolate. Wood colors: natural, mahogany, walnut or ebony.
PRICE: Twin $2,720, Full $2,990, Queen $3,395, King $4,295; earthfriendlygoods.com

LINENS
These stylish 200 thread-count bed linens are made with 100 percent organic cotton percale. Why? Because 25 percent of the world's insecticides are used to grow conventional cotton. So many people are not aware that our traditional lifestyles are so riddled with toxicity. So many are also not aware that virtually anything can be made from recycled, all natural and organic materials, and to the high standards we are used to with conventional products. The cool orange, blue, khaki and brown tones of this geometric design inspire Harmony in any bedroom. The reversible duvet cover and shams are designed with the harmony print on one side and alabaster on the other. Machine wash. Sold separately. Items come packaged in their own reusable 100 percent organic cotton self-fabric bags. Alabaster Sheet Set, Duvet Cover and Shams sold individually.
dreamsoftbedware.com

MATTRESS
Don't let the words confuse you. "Latex Mattresses," "Natural Rubber Mattresses," and "Natural Mattresses," all describe the same natural rubber core mattresses made from 100 percent natural and organic materials. Lifekind, the largest seller of organic mattresses in North America, produces Natural Rubber Mattresses 100 percent derived from the sap of rubber trees. They use no synthetic blends of styrene butadiene (SBR). Most of the so-called "Natural Rubber" marketed for mattresses is not natural at all. The Lifekind mattress core is also covered with 100 percent certified organic cotton ticking and batting, along with chemical-free naturally safer wool. A pure Natural Rubber Mattress is also resistant to mold, mildew and bacteria. Plus, dust mites will not live in a natural rubber environment. Talalay Natural Rubber Mattress
PRICE: $1,196 / Full; lifekind.com

MATTRESS TOPPER
Do you know house dust mites are responsible for 25 percent of allergies, 50 percent of asthma attacks and most allergic and respiratory infections? Now you can have a dust-mite free night with Indika's 100 percent French wool mattress pads. The pure French Biolane wool is sheared from live, organically raised sheep. The wool is then infused with Indika's revolutionary dust-mite treatment using all natural extracts proven to kill dust-mites.
PRICE: $150-$200; earthfriendlygoods.com or beanproducts.com

DECORATIVE ITEMS

YUEN TABLE LAMP
This Yuen Stained Table Lamp by Kwytza Kraft is made from recycled bamboo chopsticks. The paper lining gives it a glow that will light up the room. Comes with a 4 1/2 foot chord with on/off switch.
PRICE: $45, earthfriendlygoods.com

JUICE CLOCK
Created from 100 percent reclaimed and recycled detergent bottles, this clock will look good on the wall of any home. Available in orange, lemon and grapefruit. The compact quartz clock mechanism comes with snap-on hands, and battery included.
PRICE: $49; earthfriendlygoods.com

HANDPAINTED PICTURE FRAMES
Bring style, color and sustainability to your photo or artwork. All materials are from rescued, recycled and re-used sources. Choose from hand-painted picture frames with beautiful floral nature designs hand-painted by decorative artists, beveled-style picture frames beveled with 2- or 3-inch widths, or flat-style picture frames. All from reclaimed and recycled pine. The glass and cardboard have also been rescued and re-used. Finishes are made from reclaimed, water-based paint, and are non-toxic. All frames are polished and sealed with hand-rubbed wax polish. Seven stylish and textural colors.
PRICE $30-$42; greensage.com

ZAISHU STOOL
"Zaishu" is Japanese for small seat. It also functions as a small table and storage box. It requires no tools or problematic fittings like nails, screws or adhesives. Made from plywood "ideally salvaged from construction sites," the seats simply slot together. Requiring no packaging, the seats are designed to take on a used patina, while the external artwork has been created by a variety of designers and artists from Australia, Japan, Korea and Italy. Designed by Matthew Butler, whose Australian company Blue Square makes the claim: "Environmentally, we are a 'carbon neutral' company where we guarantee that a tree will be planted for each chair sold." PRICE: $270 (includes delivery); zaishu.com

GLASS KARPOS VASE
The first piece in a design collaboration between Delano Collection and Esque, the Karpos Vase emphasizes beauty as well as environmental sustainability. Sensual, alluring curves taper from the bulbous base to the slender neck and opening. This dramatic piece is made from 100 percent lead-free recycled glass and hand-blown, utilizing renewable energy powered electric glass furnaces. Colored with natural, non-toxic Copper Ruby.
PRICE: $380; vivavi.com

GLASSWARE
Recycled glass tumblers and goblets with decorative designs in clear or frosted glass. Some styles also available with no designs. The classic Willow Vintage style is inspired by a turn of the century antique mirror. Saved from reaching landfills, glass bottles once again become useful — this time as beautiful glassware. These stylish and unique goblets and tumblers are transformed from ordinary bottles. Glasses are dishwasher safe. They are not suitable for microwave use.
PRICE: $18-$48 for sets of two and four; greensage.com

BAMBOO
Bamboo is one of the most environmentally-friendly options to wood. Unlike hardwood trees, this grass grows fast and does not need to be replanted. It's an endlessly renewable resource. It takes in greenhouse gasses and produces 35 percent more oxygen than an equivalent stand of trees. Farmed bamboo also stabilizes the earth with its roots, preventing erosion. Plus, it's stronger than oak and is considered more durable than hardwood. When laminated, bamboo is nearly as strong as soft steel. And, it doesn't shrink or swell like hardwoods do, making it ideal for furniture and flooring.

HOLLOW END TABLE
The Hollow line of furniture reveals the potential interiors in each piece. Clean lines and contrasting tones of dark and light Bamboo are used to show volume and accentuate negative space. With a side magazine/book cubby and a thru-surface, the end table is comprised of a number of additional folds that create pockets for hidden storage. Also performs triple duty as a foot rest or small bench. The smooth surface is finished with BioShield Organic Herbal Oil. PRICE: $375; vivavi.com

BAMBOO CHAIR
Although appearing to be made with natural bamboo culms (stalks), the chair by EcoDesignz is made entirely from laminated bamboo. The hand shaped pieces give the visual effect of natural bamboo canes but with the strength and durability of layered bamboo.
PRICE: $165; earthfriendlygoods.com

LIVING ROOM

TIERRA MODERNO CHAIR & OTTOMAN
You don't have to sacrifice style by bringing eco-friendly décor into your home with this contemporary and sophisticated organic hemp chair and ottoman from Bean Products. Constructed with such organic elements such as hemp/silk fabric (hemp being one our planet's most natural resources with a multitude of uses), 100 percent natural latex foam rubber cushion, organic contents, as well as non-toxic natural based glues and safe low VOC (volatile Organic Compounds) wood finishes. Available in four organic hemp fabrics and four wood colors.
PRICE: $2,000, Ottoman $700; earthfriendlygoods.com

LOTUS CHAISE/SOFA
ABC Home, a successful Manhattan company, introduces the "Pure Seating Collection" — adding to their one-of-kind recycled and reclaimed furniture lines. The collection uses only the finest in sustainable and toxic-free ingredients (from alder good wood, non-toxic adhesive, to all natural fibers and untreated fabrics), as illustrated with their contemporary Lotus Chaise/Sofa. The exclusive organic upholstered line allows you to breathe freely and create a chemical and allergen-free environment in your own home. Available at ABC Home store in Manhattan only. Prices range from $650-$6,750. CHAISE PRICE: $3,550; abchome.com or 212-473-3000.

COCKTAIL/COFFEE TABLE
ABC Home's recycled, reclaimed and salvaged wood pieces bring the organic terrain of nature home. Created by fine arts trained craftsman, the environmentally sensitive modern collection includes a contemporary cocktail table (14" by 25" by 65") made of poplar wood originating from upstate New York. The reclaimed domestic woods from buildings, factories and trees felled by natural causes come in walnut, poplar, heart pine, hickory and mahogany — all with a low VOC finish.
PRICE: $3,695; abchome.com or 212-473-3000

PILLOW COVERS
Choose from 100 percent organic color-grown cotton or hemp/silk blend pillow covers. The cottons contain no dyes, no sizing or chemical finishes. The hemp/silks are low-impact dyed. Zipper closing. These pillow covers fit normal throw size pillow forms, which are 18" x 18". Allston Salina (organic cotton) $39, Concord Liberty (organic cotton) $39, Pasha Jade/Straw (flax/silk) $45, Kuli Blue/Straw (hemp/silk) $45 greensage.com

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