In the quest for sustainability at home, decor is one of the easiest places to start. Don’t know where to start? We’ve got tips from low-VOC pain to the best house plants for better air.
The rush of home renovations and redecoration projects that began during covid show no signs of slowing down. Also on the increase is interest in sustainable decor, energy-efficient appliances, non-toxic materials, and air quality.
Sustainability at home
A recent survey found new home buyers want sustainability throughout their home builds and renovations. This includes everything from solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations to paints, rugs, and furniture.
Every bit helps reduce your home’s carbon footprint. Some homes are even being built with recycled metal and cement, FSC-certified wood, and designed to reduce heating and cooling costs.
Home decor is one of the easiest areas to bring sustainability into your home. Here are some easy swaps you can make.
1. Low-VOC paint
When choosing paint for your home, look out for low-loose options in volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are chemicals that can off-gas into the air and cause health problems. Low-VOC paints have come a long way in recent years, and there are now many great options available that don’t sacrifice quality or color.
Paint is one of the easiest ways to change the look of a room, so it’s a great place to start when you are thinking about sustainability. However, there are many other sustainable painting practices, such as using recycled paint or choosing paints with natural ingredients like clay. These alternatives can be more expensive than traditional paint, but they are better for your health and the environment.
If you want to take things a step further, you can even look into zero-VOC paint. This type of paint doesn’t off-gas at all, making it a very safe option for your home. However, it can be more expensive and more complex to find than other types of sustainable paint.
2. Furniture choices
When you are furnishing your home, think about where your furniture is coming from and how it was made. Then, try to choose pieces made from sustainable materials like bamboo, wool, certified wood, bamboo, rattan, or recycled plastic. These materials will help you reduce your carbon footprint.
If you can’t find furniture made from sustainable materials, look for secondhand or vintage pieces. You will be giving new life to an old piece of furniture, but you will also be saving it from ending up in a landfill. “Even if you have a new house, put in a vintage piece—there is a soul there—craftsmanship that we don’t have anymore,” Designer Erin Lokitz told Ethos.
Another excellent option for sustainable furniture is to buy items that can be used for multiple purposes. For example, a coffee table that doubles as a storage ottoman is a great way to get two pieces of furniture in one. And a daybed that can be used as both a sofa and a guest bed is another useful option for small spaces.
3. Eco-friendly fabrics
There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to fabrics. First, look for natural fibers like cotton or linen. These materials are all biodegradable and will break down over time, unlike synthetic fibers like polyester or nylon.
Second, try to choose fabrics made from sustainable materials like bamboo or hemp. These plant-based fibers require less water and energy to produce than conventional fabric options. Finally, when washing your fabrics, be sure to use eco-friendly laundry detergent and hang them up to dry whenever possible. This will save energy and help your clothes last longer too.
4. Get creative with secondhand finds
One of the easiest ways to reduce your impact on the environment is to shop secondhand. You can find amazing décor pieces at thrift stores, garage sales, and online marketplaces.
Be creative and think outside the box when it comes to repurposing items. For example, an old dresser can be transformed into a bathroom vanity or a bedside table. When you want luxurious and sustainable flooring, consider Spanish tile to make it happen. You can often find tiles and other leftover materials at home surplus stores at discount prices. Mix and matching is in these days, so mix colors, sizes, and styles.
One of the best ways to personalize your space is to add some art. But when you are thinking about sustainability, it’s important to choose pieces that won’t end up in a landfill after you are done with them.
There are many great options for eco-friendly art, such as paintings made from recycled materials or sculptures made from found objects. Also explore vintage or antique pieces. This is another great way to get unique items for your home while supporting the reuse economy.
Upgrading appliances when it’s time is no small task. There are scores of options out there at all price points. There are a few key things to keep in mind.
First, look for Energy Star appliances. This means they’re reducing their energy use and will save you money while also reducing the impact on the grid and the environment.
Also, look for companies that highlight their sustainability efforts that go beyond just the Energy Star rating. A number of appliance brands are using recycled metals, reducing shipping materials, and working to reduce emissions overall.
We spend a third of our lives in bed, but they can be some of the most toxic and unsustainable parts of our homes. Beds can contain known carcinogens including formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds that can cause a range of health issues.
Sheets, pillows, and comforters can often be just as toxic, made with synthetic materials or cotton that’s been heavily sprayed with herbicides and pesticides, some of which are linked to cancer.
Opt instead for clean, organic, and eco bedding that makes your home more sustainable and may even improve your sleep.
One of the biggest covid trends was cultivating green thumbs. Houseplant sales surged as apartment dwellers and homeowners alike brought nature indoors.
There are numerous benefits to houseplants beyond just keeping us company, though. They can improve air quality, bring pops of color, and are an inexpensive way to brighten up a room.
9. Let in the light
Take advantage of natural light by keeping your windows clean and using light-colored window treatments. This will help brighten up your home and reduce your need for artificial light. During the daytime, open your curtains or blinds to let in the sunlight.