Need help finding nontoxic furnishings for my new apartment in New Orleans. Any stores or websites you recommend?

Asked by Danny Garrett
New Orleans, LA

I recently moved into an apartment in New Orleans, LA, and I need help finding inexpensive eco-friendly, nontoxic furniture (mainly a bookcase, a computer desk, and a TV stand). I searched online for these products, but they are all too expensive (hopefully, I can find some of these items under $100). Any stores or websites you can recommend?


Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS

Answered by Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS

Bainbridge Island, WA

A Kitchen That Works LLC

July 14, 2011

Dear Danny,

I commend you for your desire to furnish your abode with eco-friendly furnishings. 

Your best affordable option is probably used furniture from Craigslist, garage sales or consignment shops. If used furnishings happen to be made out of “old-style” particle board, chances are they have already offgassed the majority of the formaldehyde or other noxious chemicals.

  • In your specific locale, try the Smart Homeowner website.
  • If you can’t find satisfaction there, realize that a variety of retailers -- such as Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Room and Board, West Elm (catalog only), and Ikea -- offer select pieces fabricated with FSC-certified woods, organic fabrics, etc.
  • However, it is difficult to find detailed information on the total product. For example, the furniture piece may be made of FSC-certified woods, but it can be very challenging to determine if the upholstery is chemical-free.

To obtain a higher level of certainty, you can go to Greenguard Environmental, where you can find a variety of furnishings that have been certified to not adversely impact indoor air quality. Natural Home & Garden magazine is a great resource for finding articles and advertisers that specialize in sustainable furnishings. Green Industry Resources is a website that features about two dozen manufacturers of sustainable furniture; however, you will have to do some investigating with each company to determine if their products meet your sustainable criteria.

In the not-too-distant future, we can anticipate Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for furniture.

  • EPDs document the full environmental lifecycle of a product -- cradle to grave.
  • Chances are, EPDs will be developed first for the commercial/hospitality market before they are developed for the residential segment. Stay tuned.

For more information:

Here are some helpful archived GreenHomeGuide posts to help you with your furnishing decisions.

Do you have a question about greening your home? GreenHomeGuide invites you to Ask A Pro. Let our network of experienced green building professionals – architects, designers, contractors, electricians, energy experts, landscapers, tile & stone specialists, and more – help you find the right solution.