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!