Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Why We Only Use Sustainable, Certified Wood

It starts with certified, sustainable
Poplar and Maple hardwood frames
Our customers are concerned with buying furniture that is not made with toxic fire retardants or other chemicals.

Although that is a key feature that sets us apart from other manufacturers, our commitment to sustainability is of equal concern.

Furniture is the third largest user of lumber, after construction and packaging. Although most consumers are aware of the problems facing rain forests, knowledge of the specifics are under the radar.

The Amazon Rainforest is consistently ravished for it's hardwoods, mostly illegally, and then exported on a global, unsustainable scale. This wood finds its way into both expensive and inexpensive furniture.

Rainforests function as virtual lungs for the planet. They absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen more efficiently than other forests. This helps the world’s climate to stabilize. In addition, rainforests are home to 50 percent of all plant and animal habitat species on earth. The existence of global rain forests protects against soil erosion, drought, and floods. It also supports the indigenous populations who have been dwelling there for centuries.

An example: China has an ongoing call for rosewood, because it is the type of wood in demand for their classical furniture designs. With an increased supply and demand situation, rosewood has become the most highly trafficked property in the world.

Forest crimes are not the only part of the picture. Trees are an integral part of the ecosystem which is connected to the control of insects, disease, and droughts.

Government involvement in the United States protects and regulates forests. One of the better-known rules, the Idaho law, requires forest practices to protect soil and water, and guarantee reforestation
after trees have been harvested.

Illegal logging is the source for about 15 percent of lumber used in furniture. That is why we utilize legally and sustainably sourced wood, bought from vendors with a verifiable chain of custody. It is tagged with the label “SFI certified,” short for Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

Ecoselect purchases only Poplar or Maple, which is then kiln-dried to stabilize it. Since it comes from the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, the delivery transportation footprint is relatively low.

Curious to learn more about how each individual can make a difference, via their purchases and life style? Take this Ecological Footprint Quiz. Check out their Canopy Project, which “strengthens communities through tree planting.”

We are all in this together.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Marching for the Environment

In New York City, thousands peacefully
assembled for Earth Day this year.
This April is turning into a blockbuster month for environmental action.

April 22 was both Earth Day, and the March for Science. On April 29, people will gather in Washington, D.C. to show their support for taking steps to keep the planet safe. The 2017 People’s Climate March is expecting huge crowds there, and around the nation through satellite events.

The first Earth Day was held in 1970. Gaylord Nelson, a Governor and Senator from Wisconsin, saw the writing on the wall. He was particularly concerned about the oil spill which had occurred in Santa Barbara in 1969.

Taking a page from the activism of the 1960s, Nelson pulled together citizens to become part of a grassroots protest that would bring attention to protecting the earth.

As we learn about diminishing resources, disappearing animal species, and experience extreme weather events more often, it’s clear that we all must play a part in moving the needle towards sustainability.

I have written before about the unhealthy materials frequently used in furniture, and how they add to the indoor pollution concerns of families. Thinking about my granddaughter, top on the list for potential impact is our young children and future generations. Last month’s posting about “New Findings on the Relationship between Flame Retardants and Kids” was our highest read post to date -- so I know that this a prime issue for our clients as well.

Through social media, we have forged connections with “Moms” groups, manufacturers with similar goals, and folks who are promoting renewable energy, non-toxic products, and recognition for how each person can make a difference. We are proud to be part of this community.

Sister Marches are happening throughout the country and around the world. I encourage you to find one at a location near you. I attended the Earth Day rally here in Charleston, S.C. where we had a great turnout. I plan to be marching in our local event on Saturday.

Together, we can all generate a change that will benefit ourselves and future generations.

Monday, March 27, 2017

New Findings on the Relationship between Flame Retardants and Kids

Many of our customers connect with us specifically because they are concerned about buying furniture that comes with the assurance: Safe for the family.

It is for that reason that we always have our finger on the pulse of the latest health information. I have written previously about the issue of flame retardants in furniture before from legislation to the evolution of its use (in response to tobacco related fires). We were also mentioned in a Dr. Oz segment exploring the hazards of chemicals in furniture and manufacturers who shun them

Now, there are new findings to share with you and they are concerning.

A March 2017 study conducted by researchers at Oregon State University has found a connection between pre-school children exposed to common flame retardant chemicals and behavioral issues.

 A complete abstract was published in the Environmental Health journal, titled “Cross-sectional study of social behaviors in preschool children and exposure to flame retardants.” The stated objective was to determine if “flame retardant exposure was associated with measurable differences in social behaviors among children ages 3–5 years.”

Conclusions indicated that children with higher flame retardant exposures “exhibited poorer social skills in three domains that play an important role in a child’s ability to succeed academically and socially.”

One of the authors of the paper, Molly Kile, an environmental epidemiologist, stated, “When we analyzed behavior assessments and exposure levels, we observed that the children who had more exposure to certain types of the flame retardant were more likely to exhibit externalizing behaviors such as aggression, defiance, hyperactivity, inattention and bullying.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Looking at Love Seats in the Month of Love

From our Garland Collection, the stylish and natural
 hemp fabric loveseat from EcoSelect Furniture.com
What better time to talk about love seats than the month of February, when Valentine’s Day is smack in the middle of the month.

Ironically, although this piece of furniture is the prototype of a romantic seating arrangement, its beginnings actually have nothing to do with courting or love.

The design concept was developed to accommodate women’s voluminous clothing during a period that included hoop skirts and yards of fabric. A woman needed a seat all to herself, in order to spread out her couture while she was at rest.

The terminology of “Love Seat” didn’t come about until the 1800s, when many pieces made replicated an S-shape. It allowed a couple to face each other for personal conversation. That’s where the intimacy began and ended. There was the safety and propriety of an arm rest to physically divide them!

Today, the Love Seat has evolved into a piece of furniture that is multifaceted in both use and design.

Many of our customers in urban areas, especially New York City, look to this construction as the perfect solution to get more seating into their apartment’s limited square footage. In houses in suburban areas, we have created Love Seats specifically to suit a bedroom setting.

Most frequently, the Love Seat is an alternative to the traditional L-shaped configuration of sofa and chair. When facing each other, with a low table in between, they become a perfect duo for formatting an entertaining unit suited for conversation and get-togethers.

We offer ten styles, matching all of our collections (except the Malibu). Nine of them can converted to sleeper sofas. With a pull-out bed frame and ecofriendly mattress, the problem of where to put the overnight guest is solved!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Green and Durable Furniture Begins with a Solid Foundation

Savile Sofa - EcoSelect Furniture

In every conversation I have with customers about how we make our sofas sustainable and without toxic elements, I always begin at the very beginning with our frames. Like a house, the design and durability of our product depends on a good foundation.

In the January 2017 issue of Southern Living, there was an article by Deb Schwartz outlining, “Sofas Deconstructed.” There is a sidebar feature on page 103 titled, “The Anatomy of a Sofa: The Frame.” Schwartz noted, “The most important part of any sofa is the frame.”

We couldn’t agree more!

Having spent four decades in the furniture business, I have always believed that a superior frame construction is essential to the longevity and comfort of a chair or sofa.
It all starts with solid hardwood frames with a lifetime guarantee.

At EcoSelect Furniture, we begin by using top quality lumber from locally certified sources. One and a quarter inch (5/4”) kiln dried maple or poplar hardwood are our woods of choice. Both are abundant in the eastern forests of the United States, grow relatively quickly, and are “straight grained” which allows them to resist warping. One of their top qualities is their density, a plus for holding screws and adhesives well.
To ensure security and strength, we double-dowel the joints and secure the connections with a non-toxic glue. Every element is important!

Furniture can take a beating, and we build ours with an eye to that inevitability. To ensure that corners and high stress areas are exceedingly resilient, we use hardwood corner blocks. For increased strength, both glue and screws are applied to secure them.

A drill down is given to the issue of what Schwartz calls “the second-most important construction consideration.” That is the “sofa’s suspension system,” otherwise known as the springs. I was thrilled to see the reference to “eight-way hand-tied springs” as the definition of a “quality product.” This method of tying springs in eight directions is a cornerstone of our production methods. In addition, we put a second set of springs inside our seat cushions for added comfort and durability.

Just like the article outlines, I always ask potential buyers about the situation that the chair or sofa will be placed in. Is it a formal setting? Will it be a family room with kids and animals as regular users? This helps them pinpoint the best choice.

There was no specific mention of flame-retardant materials in the run down, but by now, you know that is non-toxic materials is the key feature of an EcoSelect piece of furniture.

Oh, and by the way, if you check out the magazine, I would say that our designs fall into the category of Classic and Handsome!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Happy 2017 from Ken and EcoSelect

Another year has come to an end…

As I look back over 2016, I am grateful for the new friends and clients who have become a part of the EcoSelect community.

EcoSelect, in turn, has continued to welcome support and allies among those who share our belief that furniture can and should be both beautiful and safe.

Regardless of what transpires in terms of national regulations, EcoSelect is pledged to continuing to stand by its commitment to toxic-free sofas and chairs.

That means no fire retardants or formaldehyde glues. It stands for using sustainable materials including hemp and certified lumber. Equally important, we support the expertise of local craftsmen and women, who carry out the individualized labor that goes into making each piece of our furniture.

We couldn’t do it without you!

We appreciate your letters and your acknowledgment of our work through a five-star rating on Facebook. Your engagement, through ongoing interactions about the importance of environmental matters via Twitter, continue to inspire and inform us.

We are part of a larger picture is a given. It’s a mutual relationship. That is a given.

We create furniture that protects the health of families and the planet. You, as a consumer, choose to make a difference by purchasing our product. Thank you for all you do to make a positive impact on the environmental landscape.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2017!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Are These Furniture Items on Your Radar?

Our solid hardwood frames are designed to last
I always enjoy getting calls and e-mails from customers who are excited about the delivered items they have ordered.

Recently, “Jackie” wrote: “We received our loveseat today and it is fantastic. Thanks for making our third sofa for our home.”

“Joseph,” another repeat buyer, informed me about the sleeper sofa he was purchasing. He wrote, “I bought the exact same one in May 2015 for my studio apartment, and it held up so well I am getting another one to fill out the living room in my first house.”

Ironically, our loveseats and sleeper sofa are two items that customers are not always fully aware of as options.

Loveseats are designed to complement the seating of a sofa with an additional two seats in an “L” shaped setting. It creates the feeling of a sectional, but is more flexible in terms of placement. Most are about 65 inches long compared to the 85 inches of the average sofa.

In apartments, where space is at a premium, loveseats can be paired, by situating them directly facing each other. This allows for an intimate seating and conversation setting.

Note to Urban dwellers: The Savile sofa is our “apartment” size sofa at 74” long. It comes with two generous seating cushions.

Sleeper sofas also fulfill the function of space saver. All of our styles can be ordered as sleeper/sofas, except for the Malibu and Georgetown – due to construction constraints.

Sofa lines take a queen size mattress, with the exception of the Savile, Central Park, and Highland models which accommodate only a full (double) mattress.

The folding frame mechanism is top quality and weight. It has an anti-tilt function to ensure that contact with the floor is maintained at all times. A double-locking TV headrest position is included, to raise the head when desired. To guarantee no-sag support there are heavy duty tubes and wires, and the legs are one piece units for enhanced stability and strength.

Our mattresses are 5 inches thick, with a 312-coil spring unit encased by a damask cover. The mattress is hypo-allergenic.

And in case you missed it…

The Arlington, Central Park, Highland, Logan Square, and Presidio models can be ordered as recliners. Options include a swivel base or a tilt swivel base. No handle is needed to get to a comfy position! The recliner mechanism is a “push on the arms” style. The chair has up to a 350-pound weight capacity. The mechanism is a three position (sitting, TV, full recline) unit with excellent extension and elevation.
Store your remotes and magazines in the Club Ottoman

We also do a series of ottomans for folks who enjoy putting their feet up after a long day. Our multi-function Club Ottoman does well with city dwellers always looking for any extra inch of space. It is equipped with lift-lid magazine, newspaper and book storage, and a tilt-out tray for a television remote or other electronic controller storage. We all have plenty of those! The lift lid features “toy-box” spring loaded hinges which close slowly and under pressure, to prevent pinching and finger injury.

The Club Ottoman is sized for the club chairs in our line at 28 inches wide and 18 inches high. The height is a few inches lower than the seat height of chairs, designed for maximum comfort.

When it comes to choosing ottomans, don’t be afraid to mix and match. You can do a hemp covering even if you have a leather sofa or chair.

Our goal at EcoSelect is to create a variety of potential ensembles so that all your furniture can remain free of toxic chemicals!