Healthy Green Design: Natural, Organic Fabric

Reader Contribution by Stephanie Nickolson
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Stephanie Nickolson has designed residential, commercial and eco-conscious environments for more than 24 years. Her firm, Stephanie Nickolson Design, promotes the use of sustainable, non-toxic,  recyclable and environmentally-friendly products and services. The firm works largely with clients who have allergies, chemical sensitivies or who have children with special needs. 

With winter approaching, thoughts of snuggling up into your favorite chair with a hot espresso or hot chocolate may sound ever so inviting, but if the chair and fabric used to upholster the frame are not-so-eco-friendly, it may be no wonder why you’re sneezing or just not feeling so great. Fabrics that are not eco-friendly contain chemicals and colored dyes that harm us. For example, cotton that is conventionally grown (versus organically grown) is the most chemically-laden crop in the world. If the cotton isn’t certified, it was likely treated with chemicals such as formaldehyde.

Mod Green Pod’s fabrics are all 100 percent organic cotton. Photo Courtesy Mod Green Pod.

Nowadays, I keep hearing the words “no formaldehyde”  about a variety of products from nail polish to fabrics. Formaldehyde is added to some products as a preservative. When infused into fabrics, it aids in the prevention of wrinkling. Another chemical that may be hidden in fabrics are PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), which are used as a flame retardant. These chemicals release VOC’s into the air, causing brain, kidney and lung damage over time. Fabrics that are used for children’s articles, such as pajamas, bedspreads and even stuffed animals, are treated more heavily with these flame retardants. The PBDEs are so deeply ingrained into the fabric that even  with repeated washings, the chemical will not come out.

The good news is that more and more companies, such as Mod Green Pod (all the photos shown here), Kravet Green and Bretano Fabrics, have introduced healthier-for-you-and-the-environment fabrics into their lines. Mod Green Pod uses all 100 percent organic cotton fabrics, Kravet offers 100 percent recycled polyester fabrics, and Bretano Fabrics offers a variety of eco-friendly choices. Kravet’s collection offers a unique blend of post-industrial and post-consumer fibers that are woven and treated with no added chemicals. Water-based products and eco-friendly dyes are also used.

Kravet Green’s fabrics are made of 100 percent recycled polyester fabrics. Photo Courtesy Kravet Green.

To date, we don’t have a universally accepted “green” fabric standard. One organization we can rely on, however, and to which Mod Green Pod is a dedicated member, is the Organic Trade Association (OTA). The OTA is working hard to establish the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), its stringent voluntary global standard for the entire post-harvest processing of apparel and home textiles made with organic fiber, in the fabric industry.

If you’re considering a new fabric, drapery or furniture purchase, keep in mind this design tip that I love to practice while designing an interior: the art of eclecticism. I love to create drama by infusing an all-traditional room with a bold, contemporary print, or vice versa. I throw in some antique accents, furniture pieces or fabric into a modern environment, and–Voila! See how unique and personal your space becomes.

Editor’s Note: Natural Home does not recommend, approve or endorse the products/services offered by companies guest bloggers review online. You should use your own judgment and evaluate products and services carefully before deciding to purchase.