I just added STEM to Debra’s List last week after a reader asked about it, and now I feel the need to give further guidance after receiving another question from a different reader.
I love your questions because I can see what you don’t know and how much I need to explain so you can get a good result.
And I learned this particular reader couldn’t tell which of all the choices were more or less toxic-free. So I’m going to explain the choices here.
First of all, the folks at STEM have been making less toxic sofas for about ten years, at Viessi. They have been listening to customers. And they know their stuff.
They will send you free samples of the materials so you can look and feel and test them out before you buy.
You can sit on whatever you order for 100 days and they will take it back if you don’t like it, and they will pay the shipping. They finance.
The baseline at STEM is: No fire retardants. No stain repellants. Beyond that, you can adjust the purity and the price by the materials you choose.
The starter price for a sofa is $1750. I’m going to choose this sofa and customize it with different materials and give you prices. This is the “Nein” sofa.
First you are asked to choose a FILLING. Options are:
- Poly Foam Cushions + Fiber Pillows
- Poly Foam Cushions + Down Pillows
- Organic Natural Latex Frame & Cushions + Wool Fiber Pillows
As you choose each option it will tell you the new price, and calculate a new monthly payment. No fill comes with the base price.
- Poly Foam Cushions + Fiber Pillows = $3091
- Poly Foam Cushions + Down Pillows = $2816
- Organic Natural Latex Frame & Cushions + Wool Fiber Pillows = $3454
Next you choose the FABRIC. A variety of polyester fabric are included in the base price. Click +MORE and use the “Eco-Friendly” menu to choose 100% Natural Content or Organic Fibers. There is one choice that comes included in the base cost (hemp and cotton with 15% recycled polyester—sorry, STEM, that’s not 100% natural). Other actually 100% natural options are 100% hemp (+276) or a linen/cotton blend (+480). The organic choices are also linen/cotton and also +$480, so here I would go with the organic linen/cotton. It’s only another $200. But you can save $480 if you’re willing to go non-organic and have that 15% recycled polyester.
So totaling this up, the range is
$2816 for the PolyFoam and Down Pillows with the standard Hemp/Cotton/polyester fabric
$3934 for the Organic Natural Latex Frame & Cushions + Wool Fiber Pillows with organic fabric
About $1000 difference.
Now here’s the difference in toxic exposure.
The big difference is in the filling,
- Poly Foam Cushions + Fiber Pillows = Seat pillows are filled with “CertiPUR-US certified poly foam” That’s regular polyurethane foam. Read more about CertiPUR-US here. Back pillows are filled with polyester.
- Poly Foam Cushions + Down Pillows = Seat pillows are filled with “CertiPUR-US certified poly foam” That’s regular polyurethane foam. Read more about CertiPUR-US here. Back pillows are filled with down feathers that are byproducts of the food industry.
- Organic Natural Latex Frame & Cushions + Wool Fiber Pillows = The entire frame, arms, and seat cushions with certified organic natural latex, made from the sap of rubber trees, with no harsh chemicals. They wrap the latex and fill the back pillows with domestic OEKO-tex certified wool which follows sustainability and cruelty free standards and is free of all chemical additives.
Remember the most toxic chemicals in a sofa are the fire retardants and the stain repellants. They are gone. Period.
Then there is the polyurethane foam fill, which is now only in the seat cushions, so it’s been reduced by half over a conventional sofa.
And then there is a choice of polyester fabric or all-natural or organic.
They do have clearance models, so you might be able to get a lower base price, and the prices also go up based on the design and size of the sofa.
I hope I’ve made this a little clearer and easier to for you to evaluate if this sofa company might be right for you. I do see there are good toxic-free choices here, but you need to choose them carefully.