Green Upholstery and Furniture Fabrics: What To Know

To continue, somewhat, with the sustainability in business theme started this week when we talked about the green supply chain, this post by guest writer Samantha Peters talks about choosing upholstery and fabrics that have been sustainably manufactured.

Add some knowledge to your green consumer arsenal by reading Samantha’s quick review of how to choose sustainable materials for your evolving green lifestyle …


Green manufacturing is on the rise. People everywhere are revamping their decks, living rooms, and floors with environmentally friendly furnishings. From Chinese lanterns to rocking chairs, more companies than ever are looking to create eco-friendly home furniture and green upholstery that is affordable and sustainably produced. Many companies have honed in specifically on upholstery fabrics that are made from materials that have been sourced from sustainably managed ecosystems.

Source: via Bill on Pinterest


Eco-friendly manufacturers are looking to receive good marks from a variety of ecological regulatory bodies who are attempting to reduce the world’s carbon footprint, one textile at a time. The following checklist provides a few initial guidelines to follow in before investing in new fabrics and upholstery:

Avoid leather

A by-product of the animal food industry, leather is produced at commercial animal farms that pollute all the local ecosystems, including air, water, and soil. Additionally, the process of creating leather also produces toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, coal-tar, and cyanide-based dyes, and heavy metals such as iron and chromium. These chemicals are bad for human health and the environment.

The eco-conscious consumer searching for green upholstery options will look for pseudo-leather and faux leather alternative, like vegan microfiber, durabuck, hydrolite, or vinyl materials. These materials were created without the harmful manufacturing requirements demanded by leather, and thus create less pollutants in the environment and less wasted resources.

Avoid conventional cotton and polyester

The farming of conventional cotton utilizes nearly a fourth of all herbicides and fertilizers used in the world. This obviously creates environmental pollution that adversely affects the health of animals, ecosystems, and humans. Cotton production is also a huge drain on water and energy resources. Cotton’s scarcity demands conservation. If you absolutely must use cotton, at least make sure it is organic.

Organic cotton is harvested in more sustainable conditions and is often renewable. Similarly, polyester production requires the use of petroleum by-products and contributes to pollution and high energy usage. If possible, use natural fabrics over polyester.

Take a good look at hemp and wool

Speaking of natural fabrics, hemp is grown using virtually no synthetic chemicals and is much less of a drain on water and energy resources than leather, cotton, and polyester. Renewable, durable, and versatile, hemp creates a small carbon footprint and its absorbent fibers have a diverse array of usages, including linen, silk, fiberglass-substitution, resin, biodegradable products, biomass fuels, wood and paper substitution, body care products, pet foods, and art supplies. Wool, similarly, is renewable, doesn’t require chemicals, and is naturally fire resistant.

Hemp upholstered chair. Source: via Jill on Pinterest


In general, when looking for the fabrics and materials that will comprise your green upholstery you want to source sustainably, using materials that are renewable and don’t contribute to pollution. This is one of the requires of the Cradle 2 Cradle guideline that many green manufacturers are applying to furniture, upholstery, and even construction and city design.

Look for a C2C certification in the companies from which you pruchase your fabrics and materials. Hopefully, you will be accessorizing with furniture made form reclaimed lumber. Therefore, your living room can come alive with beautiful, elegant, environmentally friendly furnishings.


Thanks, Samantha!



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