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Question from Stacey

I am trying to find safe/safer, affordable furniture. I see one popular store (Crate and Barrel) makes a sofa that has “soy-based polyfoam” cushions, “wrapped in fiber-down blend and recycled fiber, encased in downproof ticking.” There are also springs in the sofa.
What do you think about this sofa? Is it better than most or would you completely avoid it?


Lisa’s Answer

Since 2015 all of Crate and Barrel’s sofas are made without chemical flame retardants.  That eliminates the most concerning of chemicals, but there are plenty of others to watch out for.  I’m not sure which sofa from Crate and Barrel you are looking at but the ones I looked at have regular polyurethane foam cushions that are wrapped in a cushion that is part soy and part polyurethane.  It is still mostly polyurethane so I’m not sure how much better it is than a conventional sofa.  PU foam, even if it is not bathed in flame retardants, can emit VOCs.  Other things to look out for are chemical treatments on the fabrics such as Scotchguard or “stain resistant’ features.  Glues and adhesives can be other sources of emissions.  So, this is a better couch than one made with flame retardants but it still may have other sources of harmful emissions.
Unfortunately, totally non-toxic sofas are pricey.  My favorite is from Medley, formally called Stem.  It is made with natural latex fill, non-toxic glues and adhesives, and organic natural fabrics.  Take a look at Debra’s List for other options.


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