Organic DIY – Bean Bag Chairs

At Palmpring, we’ve been pioneering the organic sleep movement for over 20 years. Besides producing mattresses and pillows using certified organic natural materials, we also like to support other organic projects in our community.

Cassy Aoyagi was interested in making an organic alternative to standard bean bag chairs for her son and his dog. Using organic latex scraps from Palmpring, she was able to complete her project without compromising on quality or cost!

We sat down with Cassy to learn more about how her organic DIY project came to be…

 

The Organic Beanbag Journey

What made you decide to create your own organic bean bag chair in the first place?

As a mom and environmentalist, in my personal life and day job, I take as many opportunities to spend my money in a way that reflects both my beliefs and bolsters the health of my family and environment. I realize that capitalism may not be set up such that my small purchases influence the market as a whole, but you bet every penny I spend will exert its full effort to speak loud and clearly about purchasing products that bolster health and conserve the environment. Organic production stands for the least chemical and toxic methods to produce and source products. This is more important to me than anything, as chemicals have degraded nature, our health, and our water supplies, particularly in Southern California where ground water contamination and polluted oceans have been directly negatively impacted by older, antiquated chemical practices to grow and produce materials.

 

Why was it important to you to use organic materials in this project?

When I was a kid, I had a bean bag and remembered loving it. We’d lay around and read, watch tv, play games, and do nearly everything on it. As I read more about the filling options, I found out that Polystyrene was the standard filler. Remember those little tiny, styrofoamy looking balls that stick to everything?? Those are them. I learned how those are made, where the materials to make it come from and in every way that information did not match up with my expectations for a non-toxic, natural material that might even potentially be from a reclaimed source. I couldn’t bare the thought of my 6-year-old sons face being buried in toxic materials and chemicals, not to mention the off gassing that spreads into the air you breathe in your room until the product has aired out. In addition to the chemical smells, buying new material made from forms of plastic (fossil fuels), just doesn’t fit with the future needs of planet earth. We need to get off of fossil fuels, which means less plastic. And plastic doesn’t degrade, so picking materials that naturally decompose, over time, and less intense to make or fossil fuel free is always a better choice. So the polystyrene was out.  When it came to the cover for the bag, that was easier. I contemplated buying organic fabric from a fabric store, right about up until I learned that it required some sewing, which I’m terrible at. Then I found organic premade bean bag covers. They come in different sizes and color choices, so that was the easy part. Outside part done, now, back to the inside!

 

What did you try as a filler before organic latex? Were there any drawbacks?  

When I started researching an alternate filler to polystyrene, I found a product that seemed perfect. They were “buckwheat hulls”, and they were ORGANIC.  What could be more perfect, a byproduct from an organic crop that is being upcycled to a new use!! So I purchased 10 lbs. To my dismay, the 10 lbs would have filled about 1/6 of my 32″ bean bag. I would have needed to order about 12 more bags, at a very high cost $30/bag, but the inconceivable part I couldn’t overcome, was how heavy the bag would be. 120lb bag did not seem like fun anymore! So I returned the hulls and started to marinate on the next idea, at which time, I had none lined up……….empty!

 

How did you find out about Palmpring?

I’d been having neck problems and my husband encouraged me to look at new pillows. And keeping with the same eco friendly philosophy, we sought out a vendor that sold organic pillows, with organic stuffing. We are local to the Foothill area of Los Angeles, and found Palmpring in Pasadena. As soon as I walked in the store and saw that all of the stuffing for the mattresses and pillows were derived from sustainably farmed, organic latex, the light went on (kinda like lightning). So much so that I couldn’t even focus on my pillow. I started rambling on to the store salesperson about the bean bag, my struggles, and if they had extra stuffing and if I could buy it, do they shred it, and where they stored it. I must’ve really confused Max, but he kept a pleasant smile regardless of my odd behavior. I realized the moment I walked into the store, the organic latex was the answer for my filler for the bean bag. Light weight, resilient and met my criteria for environmental friendliness.

 

Where did you find the rest of the materials you needed for the beanbag?

I finally contained myself and brought the focus back to the pillow I came for in the first place, but once I finished selecting my pillow, I immediately went back to the bean bag matter. I slowly explained my dilemma to Max and discussed the matter of buying just the natural organic latex to stuff the bean bag. Max, got back to me immediately with a price and amount. We picked it up from the store within a few days, and I was soooo happy.

 

Briefly take us through the steps you took to assemble the beanbag and create the finished chair.

We brought 6 bags of the organic latex home. They came in giant chunks, to my dismay, i would have to shred it up myself to make it work for the bean bag. But after I put my son to sleep, i finished the project. Ripping 6 bags worth of latex and stuffing it into the bean bag and after about 1 1/2 hours, I finished. The bean bag is about 40 lbs, on the heavy side, but so worth it!! It’s in his room now, his dog and him both sleep and lay on it, play legos, eat, read and everything I remembered doing as a kid on the bean bag. It fluffs back up very nicely and is super comfortable. If I was to do it again, the only thing I’d change is to by the next size down cover, since my son has a small room and the bean big is fairly large. Hopefully my story will help you streamline your next bean bag project!! 🙂

 

Do It Yourself

Do you have your own organic furniture project you’re working on? Scrap organic latex is available at Palmpring for only $20 a bag! Use the highest quality, chemical free natural latex for your next custom furniture project. Let Palmpring help you bring the organic sleep movement to your neighborhood today!