Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Eco-friendly furniture that's safe for the environment AND your family!

Searching for furniture I'm comfortable with is always a struggle. Even though buying used and 're-using" is green, you don't always know what types of paints or finishes were used on the piece. Lead paint actually disintegrates over time and turns to dust, so mouthing the paint is no longer the only concern. If you're on a budget, there's MDF furniture, but that has a host of problems related to the chemicals used in it's making (click here to read about the dangers of MDF). Real wood furniture can be expensive and there's still no assurance that low VOC products have been used in it's making. So up to this point I've been biting the bullet and buying furniture from IKEA which makes the safest version of MDF that I've found and letting it off-gas in the garage for a bit. Not ideal, but not many better options. So you can imagine my delight when I opened an email one day and there was an advertisement for Way Basics -furniture made out of their exclusive eco-friendly ZBoards.

zBoards are made almost entirely (99%) from post-consumer recycled paper, and do not consume additional natural resources like trees and the enormous amounts of water needed to make virgin paper. While very strong, paper zBoards are made from the lightest form of wood byproduct.  Their patented, environmentally sound manufacturing process turns this post-consumer recycled paper into superbly strong boards that weigh 62% less than particle board with unmatched quality and durability. There also is no formaldehyde in their products.  They also use a water-based glue that is completely environmentally friendly, and recyclable too! No VOCs and eco-friendly material and manufacturing process - bonus! And Way Basics furniture is held together by cardboard dowels and 3M brand adhesive so it's super easy to put together.

Was this too good to be true?

I decided to find out!

Way Basics provided a sample Cube for me to review. I was surprised at how much the zBoards look like standard MDF furniture pieces but it is much lighter and without the nasty odor. Another plus was that the corners weren't super sharp like standard DIY furniture - that's important for me since I've got 2 preschoolers who could find ways of getting injured even if they lived in a bubble. It took me less than five minutes to put my cube together following the directions provided. Using the dowels and adhesive strips was so much easier than breaking out the screwdriver or allen wrench.

The finished product is very attractive and would fool most people into thinking it was either wood or mdf. It's a sleek, modern design that's also safe for the environment and your family.

The zBoards seem like they could take a beating and since a 200lb man stood on one on the video on their website, I decided to try to replicate the "strength test" myself. After letting the adhesive "bond" for a few days and making sure I had it on placed on the correct side (all in the directions), I stood one one to see what would happen. Nothing - it's really strong! Just make sure that you have your pieces sitting in the right direction, per the instructions, so the vertical strength is not compromised.

Way Basics makes Storage Cubes, Cube Storage, a large selection of Bookcases, Storage Benches, and the coolest Children's Tables and Chairs! Some pieces can even be put together and customized to meet your individual needs. The products are available in classic veneer finishes -white, black, natural and espresso wood - along with some fun, ultra modern colors!

The verdict? Way Basics provides a GREAT product. The cost is slightly more than standard MDF DIY furniture but that extra premium is worth it for no toxins like formaldehyde or VOCs, plus Way Basics products are eco-friendly from manufacture through disposal (zBoards be completely recyclable).

The best part - they are running a special today on Check out all the great styles and snatch a bargain!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Muir Glen Moves to BPA-free cans

I called Muir Glen today and got more information on their cans. As of October 2011 they have switched to BPA-free cans for all their tomato products. The bad news is, because canned foods have a long shelf-life, you could still get a can that contains BPA. I called and spoke with a CSR and they do not have a list of manufacture dates for when the change went into effect. You can tell once a can is open by the lining you'll see... if it's white, it is the older-style can that contains BPA. If it is copper in color, it is BPA-free. For your best chance of getting a BPA-free can, choose a can with a far-off best-by date. I bought a can with a 2/14 date... I'm planning to use them for some organic chili this weekend (BPA-free Eden Foods beans and some Simply Organic chili mix). I'll report what I find when I open it.