When it comes to the things you surround yourself with at home, it’s important to be sure that you’re making the right choices. Part of that is choosing sustainable furniture and home decorations that will help you feel good about your living space.
And, while choosing items made from sustainable materials, like bamboo and organic cotton, can be a big part of making over your home decor to be more sustainable, it’s only one piece of the puzzle.
Sustainable home decor involves making choices that minimize waste and create a healthy environment that’s as free of harmful chemicals as possible.
You don’t need a fat wallet or a professional designer to put together a seamless home decor scheme that reflects your personality and interests while fostering improved indoor air quality and reducing your carbon footprint. These five tips can show you how.
1) Decorate with Plants
Houseplants are gorgeous. They can bring an airy, fresh feel to your indoor space, and they encourage you to look for ways to bring more natural light into your home. They also filter harmful toxins from your indoor air and produce oxygen.
There are so many different kinds of plants you can grow indoors, like hardy, sun-loving succulents; dangling vines; cute bonsai trees; tall, leafy potted palms; and brilliantly colorful flowers.
House plants are one of the most versatile design elements you can choose because they come in all sizes, can be potted into a dizzying array of different colors and styles of planters, and can be placed on a table or shelf, hung from the ceiling, balanced on a plant stand, or simply tucked into a windowsill.
Not sure about your black thumb? Plenty of houseplants are easy to care for, and many species can withstand a little neglect.
2) Maximize Natural Light
If you take the previous tip to heart, you’re going to need to make the most of whatever natural light you can come by, although plants do have varying light needs, depending on species.
But even if you don’t adopt any plants, letting in more light can really make your space feel bigger and brighter, and it can lower your energy costs, too. Ditch the heavy curtains and blinds and use caulking and weather-stripping to keep the cold out.
Use large mirrors and light-colored paint to reflect light and make rooms feel larger. Use dark colors to absorb light and heat in rooms on the colder, north side of the house, and lighter colors on the sunnier south side.
3) Buy Organic, Sustainably Made Furniture and Mattresses
Sustainable decorating should involve as much reusing, repurposing, and recycling as possible — the more you can make use of things you already have, the more you can reduce your waste and eliminate the environmental impact of buying new.
But sometimes you just need something new, and when it’s time to replace that old mattress or sofa, source something made with organic, sustainably produced materials to reduce your carbon footprint.
Conventionally farmed cotton, for example, is one of the world’s most environmentally detrimental crops, accounting for 16 percent of global pesticide use but only 2.5 percent of global agricultural land.
An eco-friendly mattress made with organic cotton is much better for the environment and has the added bonus of not being contaminated with potentially toxic pesticides.
Other materials to look for include bamboo, organic latex, and FSC-certified wood or reclaimed wood. Antiques and secondhand pieces are also a good option.
4) Avoid VOCs
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are toxic chemical compounds that transform into gasses easily.
Many household products, including synthetic materials in conventional mattresses and upholstered furniture, as well as paint, crafts supplies, the glues and adhesives used in particleboard and medium-density fiberboard (MDF), air fresheners, household cleaners, moth repellents, and more, contain VOCs.
They’re known to cause ill health effects ranging from respiratory irritation all the way to cancer and major organ damage, so it’s best to minimize their presence in your home as much as possible.
5) Support Local Craftspeople
When you buy furniture or home decor, supporting local craftspeople and artists not only strengthens your local economy and community but can also reduce your environmental impact.
That’s because buying local eliminates the need to ship items across hundreds or thousands of miles, so there are fewer emissions and maybe even less packaging waste associated with your purchase. Many local craftspeople use natural and reclaimed materials in their work, too.
When it’s time to revamp your home decor, keep sustainability in mind. Choose artwork, furniture, linens, and more with an eye towards minimizing your impact on the environment, and you’ll find yourself easily accumulating higher-quality and more unique pieces that will truly showcase your personality.