Contributed by Emma Metson
Pollution, waste problems, climate change, global warming, health risks, etc. — everyone’s facing these significant issues.
You can do a lot of different things to help save the environment, but without a doubt, the best and easiest place to start is at home. Everyone will agree that decorating their home brings a sense of pride and accomplishment, and this is where you should start.
Your choices do impact the environment, but maybe without you knowing it. Did you know that a majority of paints contain harmful chemicals? Are you also aware what processes and resources are involved in making that furniture? And what about your skyrocketing utility bills?
So if you care about the environment, it’s your responsibility to take action. You have to keep yourself informed about how the smallest of things can have significant effects on the environment. With that, let’s take a look at some thoughts on decorating your home the eco-friendly way.
Buy locally-made products
Before you decide to order that nice-looking piece of furniture, think again. Do you know where it was made, how it was made, and how it was transported? Instead, consider buying what you need locally whenever possible.
Locally-made products reduce the amount of packaging and shipping required during transportation. That means fewer resources are used, which cuts down your carbon footprint. Besides, buying locally means you’re supporting the community and providing more jobs for your neighbors.
Love preloved items
Another great way to reduce your impact on the environment is by buying second-hand products. It works to your advantage, especially if you want to decorate your home and you’re on a tight budget. This way, you’re reducing the need for new products to be made which means no further damage is done to the planet.
Gumtree and eBay are just two of the best places to shop around for preloved furniture. [Editor’s note: you can find it for sale locally, too. Some stores call it used furniture. Others call it antiques. Antiques will be more expensive, but very likely better quality. Maybe even better quality than what you can find new.]
And while you’re at it, consider selling your old furniture and appliances as well. Throwing them away means more waste is produced. You can also give them to friends or donate them to charities.
Use energy-efficient lighting
Proper outdoor lighting is a key factor in enhancing the curb appeal of your home. It is crucial. especially if you are planning to sell your house. You may not think much about it, but poor lighting can affect the result of a building survey negatively — something that you don’t want. [Editor’s note: it’s also crucial in not contributing to light pollution.]
The right indoor lighting can make a small room seem bigger. It can also make a dull and lifeless space full of energy. But aside from these benefits, you can help the environment using energy-efficient lights.
The idea is pretty similar to energy star rated appliances, which use less energy and still function efficiently. The older kind of lights also emit greenhouse gases and pollutants so keep that in mind. If you plan to switch your lights, always go for eco-friendly options like the LED ones.
Go for natural flooring
Synthetic floors are more common mainly because they’re cheap and are more resistant to stains. However, they won’t last as long and aren’t helpful to the environment as opposed to using natural flooring.
Natural flooring is made using a variety of materials like plants and animal fibres. These materials are biodegradable, so they won’t hurt mother nature come their end of life. Many synthetic floors are also made using harmful toxins and chemicals which are bad for the health. Natural floors don’t have any of these.
And speaking of floors, you should also consider using bamboo as hardwood flooring. It’s the fastest growing plant on earth which makes it more environmentally-friendly to use than timber trees.
Only use certified wood
Wood comes from trees, and trees come from forests. Some of the wood in the market comes from forests that are not managed responsibly. Practices like illegal logging, clear-cutting (removing all trees in a tract), and destroying ecosystems are examples of irresponsible harvesting of wood.
If you’re in the process of making a major renovation, upgrading your kitchen for instance, look for the FSC certification. FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council which is an that certifies that the wood used to make cabinets or countertops was harvested sustainably.
If you can’t find FSC-certified wood, you can also look for wood with SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) certification, which is less rigorous.
Choose products with low VOC content
Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs are organic chemicals that vaporize at room temperature. Some of these substances contribute to global warming. In addition, they also harm human health in the long run.
One of the easiest ways to give your home a new look is by giving it a fresh lick of paint. However, not all paints are created equal, and some of them contain VOCs. For all you know, you and your family have been breathing toxic air for years already.
Carpets and furniture can also emit VOCs into your home. So do your research and make sure that the products you’re buying don’t contain VOCs or have minimal amounts of them. Doing so will help save the planet including you and your family.
Purchase Energy Star rated appliances
If you think that it’s about time you replace your old washing machine or freezer, replace them with the ones that are ENERGY STAR® rated. These are energy-efficient appliances that use up to 25% less energy compared to their non-rated counterparts.
Not only do you save yourself from high electricity bills, but you also lower your home’s carbon footprint. But of course, you don’t have to just rely on using ENERGY STAR® rated products. You also need to make sure that you use them properly and efficiently to get the best results.
If you want your home to be ‘green’, why not use plants as a decor? Better yet, consider indoor gardening. It’s a great hobby that you will surely love and brings a ton of benefits in the process.
For starters, plants are an excellent choice when it comes to home décor, which adds that natural look. They also breathe carbon dioxide and emit oxygen in return, all while helping purify the air inside your house.
Reuse, reduce, recycle
Lastly, give your existing home decors and furniture a chance. You don’t always have to replace things by buying new. Sometimes, a piece of furniture only needs new paint or a sanding down to give it a fresh look and a new life.
It’s practical, cost-effective, and eco-friendly. In any case, don’t throw things out. Think carefully if you can still do something to save and reuse them. Otherwise, sell or donate them.
To sum it up, decorating your home the eco-friendly way is not so hard a task. You just have to keep yourself informed and do your research. Yes, the process can be very rigorous, but it’s definitely worth your effort.
Emma is a part-time property developer and blogger. She is passionate about home improvements; especially environmentally friendly changes that can make your home and the world a healthier place. Check out her blog, Fixtures and Flowers or follow her on Twitter
Reclaimed wood wall. Some rights reserved by Wicker Paradise.
Buy local graffiti. Some rights reserved by Sheila Scarborough
Bamboo flooring. Public domain from Wikimedia Commons
ENERGY STAR. Source unknown