Looking for the best bean bag chair that’s comfortable, healthy, and easy on the environment?
They’ve always been a staple in kids’ playrooms and teenagers’ gaming pads, but nowadays there are also some modern adult bean bag chairs that would look beautiful in the living room, too!
But… just like with just about everything else we buy these days (*sigh*), most bean bag chairs are far from eco-friendly, made with materials that are not-so-great.
So in this article, I’m going to talk briefly about why traditional bean bag fabrics and fillings aren’t the healthiest, and then I’ll give you some better non-toxic alternatives.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
Non-Toxic Bean Bag Chairs: Table of Contents
- What’s the Deal—Are Bean Bag Beans Toxic?
- What Materials Should We Look For In An Eco-Friendly Bean Bag Chair?
- Are There Non-Toxic/Eco-Friendly Certifications?
- What About Non-Toxic Bean Bag Covers?
- 7 Brands That Make Eco-Friendly, Organic, and Non-Toxic Bean Bag Chairs, Covers, and Filling
- Bean Products from The Ultimate Green Store
- White Lotus Home
- Carolina Morning
- Pottery Barn
- Looping Home
- Cloud Makers
- Home Luxury Boutique
- Om Home Brand
- Brentwood Home Play Couch (aka “Nugget Couch”)
- What’s the Best Bean Bag Filler? (Eco-Friendly & Non-Toxic Of Course)
Featured Image Credit: Pottery Barn
What’s the Deal—Are Bean Bag Beans Toxic?
All plastics are toxic to a certain extent so it’s safe to say conventional bean bag beans stuffed with polystyrene are not good. Almost all of the little foam beads you’ll find in bean bags are made from polystyrene.
As we discussed in our guide to plastics, polystyrene is essentially the second-most toxic form of plastic, after PVC. If the polystyrene beads find their way out, they are toxic if ingested and the swallower should be immediately taken to a hospital.
The beads are made from:
- Styrene, as the name indicates, which is a suspected carcinogen.
- Benzene, which is another carcinogen.
- Along with hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are harder on the environment than carbon is.
On an environmental note, polystyrene also can’t biodegrade; instead, it just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces in the environment, creating toxic microplastics and releasing harmful HFCs into the atmosphere as it goes.
What Materials Should We Look For In An Eco-Friendly Bean Bag Chair?
Instead of polystyrene, look for bean bags covered with a natural fiber (see below) and filled with materials like:
- Organic/natural latex
- Buckwheat hulls
- Kapok fiber
- Plant-based foams made from soy and vegetable oils
- CertiPUR and/or GREENGUARD synthetic foams
- Recycled polystyrene
(I’ll talk more about these fillings and find out where to buy them further down in the post!)
Are There Non-Toxic/Eco-Friendly Certifications?
CertiPUR and GREENGAURD are two common eco-certifications you’ll find on bean bag chairs and filling. Both are third-party certifications meaning they’ve been independently verified to be free of a list of other harmful chemicals.
While products containing these certifications are infinitely better than virgin polystyrene, it’s important to note they still contain synthetic foam and recycled polystyrene.
I’ve included them as options in this article because it’s still somewhat slim pickings when it comes to finding an eco-friendly bean bag chair that’s 100% organic and non-toxic. Sometimes it’s okay to choose the better (if not perfect) option!
What About Non-Toxic Bean Bag Covers?
Considering that this is the part of the chair that will be against your or your child’s skin for a long period of time, it’s better to choose natural and/or organic fabrics in order to reduce the amount of off-gassing.
Try looking for bean bag covers made from:
Of course, these fabrics are also more eco-friendly in their production and end-of-life when compared to polyester as well.
7 Brands That Make Eco-Friendly, Organic, and Non-Toxic Bean Bag Chairs, Covers, and Filling
The Ultimate Green Store carries organic bean bag chairs for adults and kids that are handcrafted in the USA out of natural materials like organic cotton and hemp. For the filling, they use:
- CertiPUR-US certified foams, which are low-VOC foams without PBDEs, TDCPP or TCEP flame retardants, heavy metals, formaldehyde, or phthalates
- “Superfill,” which includes recycled polystyrene beads and pre-consumer recycled shredded foam
- “Eco Superfill,” (my recommendation) which includes shredded natural latex foam in place of standard urethane shredded foam
These chairs are personalizable, too!
F.Y.I., you might find several other online retailers selling Bean Products and rebranding them as their own. You can tell because they have the same product images and descriptions, but just know that they’re all the same thing!
The covers for these bean bags are made from 100% cotton (conventional, not organic). The filling is made out of their own plant-based “Evergreen Foam,” which is made from a blend of soy, castor, and other vegetable oils and is completely free from fire retardants, formaldehyde, nickel, mercury, parabens, and other hazardous materials. They have a wide variety of colors to choose from, too.
Available in pre-stuffed or cover-only.
While not *technically* bean bag chairs, Carolina Morning has a really wide selection of non-toxic and organic cushions, pillows, yoga bolsters, and floor furniture of various shapes, sizes, and colors.
They use materials like organic cotton, hypoallergenic kapok fiber, and natural buckwheat. Although this brand is geared toward yogis, their products can be used for lounging, working, and gathering together with loved ones, too. Their designs are meant to support and encourage proper posture and alignment in order to prevent and decrease aches and pains!
Cushions, covers, and fill.
Pottery Barn’s bean bag chairs are not completely non-toxic, but they do have several things going for them. Many of their teen bean bag chairs and similar loungers are GREENGUARD Gold Certified, which means they have been independently verified to be free of a list of toxic substances that contribute to indoor air pollution. Several of the chairs are certified Fair Trade as well. They also have a really wide selection of designs, whether you’re looking for faux fur, solid colors, or cute animals (hello, Hedwig!).
That being said, these bean bags aren’t made from natural or organic materials. Instead, they’re made mostly out of polyester and polystyrene. A great deal of it is recycled, which definitely makes it a more eco-friendly option than most conventional bean bag chairs. But as mentioned above, these materials are plastics and therefore do pose some problems to human and environmental health.
If you like the chunky knit aesthetic, you’re going to love Looping Home’s pouf ottomans, bean bag chairs, and loungers. These are handmade to order out of recycled conventional cotton (not organic) and are available in several different beautiful neutral shades.
Some of Looping Home’s products are available pre-stuffed, but they use conventional polystyrene, so I recommend just purchasing the cover and then filling it with something else (see below).
If you like more of a rustic feel, these handmade bean bags are made from a blend of eco-friendly linen and conventional cotton. You can get plain, natural linen or a patterned fabric like horses, cats, bees, poppies, hearts, and more.
These come without the filling, so you can either use them to store your child’s stuffed animals, or you can buy the filling separately. (Keep reading for more suggestions on bean bag filling alternatives.)
Kamile, who owns Home Luxury Boutique shop on Etsy, hand-makes all of her bean bag chairs and has a few that are made out of 100% natural linen. These come in Kid, Adult, and XL sizes, so they’re a great option for just about any living space.
If you like to surround yourself with items that are simple, functional, and family-friendly Om Home Brand is your place. This shop carries a variety of eco-friendly bean bags, floor cushions, poufs, and ottomans made out of 100% natural, organic linen. Inspired by nature, these bean bags are designed to be loved, long-lasting, and durable.
Brentwood Home Play Couch (aka “Nugget Couch”)
Brentwood Home has a bean bag chair which is made out of recycled plastic bottles and CertiPUR foam (which is definitely better than nothing), but the outer cover is also made out of synthetic fibers and doesn’t come with any non-toxic certifications.
Their nugget couch, however, is a great bean bag alternative option that kids love! Finding a nugget couch that is completely free from synthetic foams is basically impossible (as of right now), but this couch comes with a couple of different certifications, including GREENGUARD Gold and CertiPUR, which indicate that it’s been tested against a list of toxic substances.
The foam is also made with 20% plant-based material (like soy, corn, and castor bean), which again, is not perfect but definitely better than the majority of nugget couches on the market.
These couches come in six fun colors and six block-type pieces that can be rearranged to make forts, kingdoms, and all kinds of different play environments.
Some other things to note:
- The covers are removable and machine washable.
- Everything is made in the USA.
- It’s a climate-neutral product (made with recycled plastic bottles)
- And trees are planted with each purchase.
What’s the Best Bean Bag Filler? (Eco-Friendly & Non-Toxic Of Course)
If you don’t want to mess with the recycled/synthetic bean bag fillers, you might choose to buy a natural or organic bean bag cover (like Om Home Brand, Home Luxury Boutique, Cloud Makers, Looping Home, or White Lotus) and then fill it with a material that you feel good about!
6 Eco Non-Toxic Bean Bag Fillings To Consider:
- This organic latex filling is GOLS certified and organic
- It’s made in the USA
- Organic latex is plant-based, non-toxic, and biodegradable and feels very close to synthetic foam.
- Offer a firmer feel (like what you’d experience with a meditation pillow).
- 100% Organically Grown and Processed Buckwheat Hulls
- Midwest USA Grown
- Note: Some individuals may really like the buckwheat hull feel, but if you’re looking for a super cushy bean bag, this probably isn’t the fill for you
- Has a texture similar to cotton or silk but feels more like the stuffing in a conventional pillow
- Kapok is a renewable resource sustainably harvested from the tropical Kapok tree
- Vegan and free from petroleum and toxic chemicals
- Cork is also a good option since it has a little spring to it but it’s also firm enough to hold your weight.
- This blend will give you the soft pillow-y-ness of the kapok, with some of the bounce that comes from latex.
Stuff It With What You Have
- Lastly, as Cloud Makers suggests, you can use your kid’s bean bag cover as a stuffed animal storage unit!
When looking for eco-friendly and non-toxic filling, keep in mind that every type of material is going to feel a little bit different—some might have more bounce while others will provide your body with more support.
Our Advice: If you’re planning on filling multiple bean bags, I recommend starting out filling just one bean bag to make sure you like the feel of it before ordering more filling for the other chairs.
What is the healthiest / least toxic bean bag filling?
The healthiest and least toxic fillings for your bean bag chairs are going to consist of natural materials. Some of my favorite non-toxic fillings include organic latex filling, organic buckwheat hulls, organic kapuk fiber, and cork. Many of the brands listed in this guide also carry bean bag filling, but Etsy is also a great place to check.
Are bean bag chairs environmentally friendly?
The majority of bean bag chairs sold at big box stores generally contain toxic chemicals and are stuffed with polystyrene — neither of which I would consider environmentally friendly. The majority of the bean bags listed in this blog offer a more environmentally friendly choice through natural, organic materials, stuffing, and non-toxic certifications.
Are bean bag chairs safe?
Yes, bean bag chairs are generally safe for kids and adults — so long as no one’s pulling out the stuffing and eating it. Bean bags are still a great way to provide alternate seating, an extra toy, or some decoration to any room in your house — especially by choosing brands that are creating non-toxic and organic bean bags.
What is the best kind of bean bag chair?
The best kind of bean bag chair is one that’s safe for you and your family and easy on the planet — like each of the 7 brands mentioned in this article! But in all seriousness, I can’t give an outright recommendation because everyone’s bean bag needs are different. There are a variety of amazing brands out there so figure out what kind of look best matches your aesthetic, then scroll through our recommendations and find a non-toxic style that works best for you.
Sit back and relax knowing you’ve got non-toxic and eco-friendly bean bag chair options for your home!