When buying an eco sofa for your eco home one of your main concerns is probably whether it’s made from sustainably cut wood. But the way its upholstery is made is just as important.
The textile industry has always had a bad reputation amongst environmentalists. It generates huge amounts of pollution making synthetic textiles, like polyester and nylon. Added to this are the millions of gallons of water it pollutes from washing textiles in anti-creasing agents, fire retardants and chemical dyes, with the leftover residue poured into the local water system, poisoning streams for fish and other wildlife.
The manufacturing of leather upholstery isn’t much better. The process of ‘chrome tanning’, for converting animal hides into leather, is awash with toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde, sulphides and acids. These chemicals combine to create a toxic sludge that’s also poured away into local lakes and streams.
Thankfully, the textile industry has started becoming more innovative in response to consumer demands for it to become greener. Eco textiles are now available for making eco upholstery that are luxurious and comfortable, and far less damaging to wildlife and the planet.
Eco textiles for making eco upholstery
There are a variety of sustainable textiles to choose from for making eco upholstery. Popular kinds include bamboo, organic cotton and hemp, which are all plant based and can be harvested sustainably. Bamboo stems grow back in less than a decade, whilst cotton and hemp can be harvested from the same fields over and over again.
Ordinarily, cotton is quite damaging to harvest, due to the large amount of pesticides and fertilizers farmers spray on their crops. Organic cotton, on the other hand, is harvested sustainably without such heavy use of environmentally damaging chemicals. This makes it a much greener eco upholstery material for decorating eco sofas.
Eco upholstery is coloured with eco dyes
Conventional dyeing methods are far from environmentally friendly. A lot of water is needed which is then polluted with the toxic chemicals used to fasten the dye onto the cloth. This is then simply poured into the local water system. However, there are alternatives.
Low impact fibre reactive dyes have been around for decades. But there have been great advances in recent years, leading to their promotion as an environmentally friendly option for eco upholstery. Low impact dyes don’t contain toxic bonding chemicals but are still able to bond more easily to textiles than conventional dyes. This means they use far less water and consequently cause less water pollution.
Another eco friendly option is to use vegetable based dyes. These are harvested from natural, renewable sources, such as tree bark or dried fruit. Eco dyes typically use less water to fasten onto clothes, and because they’re not derived from petroleum they’re far less polluting to manufacture.
When eco dyes are combined with eco textiles you get an environmentally friendly eco upholstery material for decorating eco sofas, and other eco furniture, in your eco home.