Going green part 3 - using natural materials

There is a growing awareness in the impact we are making on the environment. This has led to more people getting involved with recycling and reusing, as well as reducing their consumption. Interior design is no different. Many designers, professional and amateur, are aiming for more green decorating, using natural materials that have a smaller impact on the planet.

This includes products made from recycled materials or items from renewable resources. Your flooring is a good place to start. Reclaimed wood is popular. It generally has an antique look and can bring character to the room. You can also choose sustainable woods such as bamboo and cork. If you prefer carpet, you can still go green.

Recycled carpet is one option. This carpet is manufactured from old textile fibres and recycled plastic. On average, a square yard of carpet can contain as many as forty 2 litre plastic bottles. Carpet from renewable resources such as wool are also available. If your walls need an update, take a close look before purchasing paint. Some paints contain volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. These paints can release harmful chemicals into the air over time, potentially making you and your family sick.

Look for paints labelled organic, non-toxic or low VOC. Consider using lighter colours on your walls as they make the room appear brighter and reduce the need for lighting. When choosing furniture for your room, you should also consider its green value. Antiques are a good choice as they tend to have fewer amounts of chemicals than newer items, not to mention get reused multiple times through the years.

Bamboo furniture is another good option. It grows rapidly, often with little or no pesticides used on it. If you already have furniture but are looking for a change, consider updating it. A fresh coat of low VOC paint and changing knobs or drawer handles can be an easy way to breathe new life into existing furniture. You may also want to consider reupholstering chairs and couches. Choose organic and natural curtain fabrics to reduce your impact on the environment. Windows are another consideration.

Choose window treatments with an eye not only to style, but also energy conservation. A good set of green (of course!) curtains can help prevent cold from entering your home during the winter and block the heat of the sun in warmer months. As with other products for your home, it is possible to find curtains made of recycled, organic or sustainable materials.

Curtains are not for everyone. You may prefer shades or blinds. Bamboo shades are one option. They are made from a renewable resources and are durable. If you prefer blinds, choose wooden Venetian blinds over plastic ones as the plastic can release toxic chemicals into the air.

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