When decorating your home these days, it is not just the look or style of your furniture and fittings that should matter; you should also take into account their effect on the environment. Going green no longer means sacrificing quality and style, there are lots of fantastic green products on the market today- making it easy for you to create live in the home of your dreams, safe in the knowledge that you are doing your bit for the world you live in. Here we will take a look at some of the surprisingly harmful products which we all use fairly regularly and also have a look at the more responsible alternatives you can pick up instead.
Vinyl wallpaper and conventional paints that are two of the most widely used toxic products on the market. Both release potentially harmful toxins into your home’s air long after decorating which leads to a drop in the quality of air breathed in by you and your family. To solve this, only purchase paint with VOCs (or low volatile compounds). You can also purchase green wallpaper that is made out of non-vinyl products, like bamboo pulp or grasses.
The flooring in our home can also be harmful to our environment. Wood used for flooring that is taken from non sustainable forests for example does huge amounts of damage. When looking to install hardwood floors, buy only products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This means that utmost care was taken to harvest wood using sustainable methods. Also, look for woods that have been reclaimed. Other natural floor coverings include cork, bamboo, linoleum and concrete. For rugs and carpets, look for ones with fibres made of recycled products or natural materials like wool, jute, sisal, sea grass or coir (coconut husks). These types of floor coverings are widely available, and are generally long-lasting. Check for labels indicating that the product is actually green.
When buying new furniture for your home, buy green. Look for labels that mark certified sustainable wood, low-VOCs, and recycled materials. Plenty of furniture makers now have lines for the green consumer. Whenever you are buying furniture, make sure it is durable, and doesn’t have to travel far to reach you as buying local will drastically reduce your carbon footprint by lessening the amount of transport fuel used. Buying from local dealers will also greatly help economic sustainability in your area.
However, one of the best ways to get green furniture is to recycle it by buying vintage or antique pieces. Not only were many of these pieces exceptionally well-crafted, you are helping the environment by keeping these items from filling up a landfill, and you are avoiding contributing to furniture manufacturing. If you don’t like the looks of the vintage or antique furniture, you can refinish it with low-VOC paints or stains, and you can also have it reupholstered with natural fabrics.
Soft furnishings such as curtain material, slipcovers, pillows and bedding have lots of greener options that are durable, beautiful, and natural. One great option is bamboo fabric. Bamboo is a great grass that grows fast, and doesn’t require a lot of chemical pesticides and fertilizer. You can also purchase organic wool and cotton. When you are buying fabrics, make sure they are untreated by chemical stain-repellents, which have a higher toxicity. If dyed, look for solution dyed fabrics.
Finally, for a green décor that is truly green, consider adding plants to your room. Houseplants can help clear the air, removing harmful toxins and replacing them with clean oxygen. Some of the healthiest houseplants are the philodendron, ivy, spider plants, palms, ferns, and peace lilies.