We all want to take care of the environment, and reducing our carbon footprint at home is a great way to make an impact. The good news is, just because you’re using sustainable materials in the construction and decor of your home, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on style.
The following are some simple ways that your home can be more eco-friendly and stylish at the same time.
Look into Environmentally Friendly Paint
Traditional paints (both latex & alkyd/oil base) can contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s). These paints may also contain toxic chemical compounds such as formaldehyde, ethylene glycol and heavy metals. However, there is a growing industry of Low VOC or No VOC paints coming to the market because they are becoming in high demand by consumers that want to use more eco-friendly paint.
Many top manufacturers are now offering these “green” paints (no pun intended) because they do not emit significant amounts of harmful gases into the air. Growing concerns about toxins found in conventional paint products and the negative effects they have on our health and the environment has created strong interest in these green paints which for the most part have the same look and feel of conventional paint.
The benefits of using eco-friendly paint include:
- Low odour during application
- No odour or off-gassing after cure
- Friendlier to anyone sensitive to chemicals
- Lower emissions from VOCs
- Easy cleanup, no hazardous waste
Choose Stylish Eco-Friendly Floors
At one time, there were only a few bland choices available for those looking for eco-friendly and sustainable flooring for their homes. As more and more designers started seeking out eco-friendly materials for their environmentally savvy clients, manufacturers have stepped up and given the design world many beautiful options to choose from.
Cork Flooring: Cork is harvested from the bark of the cork oak tree which is commonly found in the forests of the Mediterranean. The trees are not cut down to harvest the bark but instead the bark is harvested and grows back every three years, making it an ideal renewable resource. It has anti-microbial properties that reduce allergens in the home; it acts as a fire retardant, its easy to maintain and it acts as a natural insect repellent too.
Bamboo Flooring: Believe it or not, Bamboo is actually a form of grass, but with the strength of a hardwood making this an excellent choice for flooring. Bamboo is sustainable and grows very quickly—it reaches maturity in three to five years making it much faster to re-grow than a traditional tree.
Linoleum: Don’t confuse this flooring with vinyl. In reality, Linoleum is made with a concoction of linseed oil, cork dust, tree resins, wood flour, pigments and ground limestone. It’s very durable, fire retardant and water resistant and completely eco-friendly.
Concrete Flooring: We normally think of concrete floors as being cold, dusty, and only suitable in the basement under some other kind of flooring. That’s not always the case. Polished concrete floors can look amazing, be tinted, heated and there’s no need for traditional flooring to be laid over it.
Glass Tiles: Ever wonder where your glass wine & beer bottles end up? They’re recycled into glass tiles. Glass tiles won’t absorb stains and won’t build up mildew or mold in damp environments.
Wool Carpet: If you like the warmth of carpet under your feet, look for wool! This natural renewable resource is very durable and can last centuries.
Reclaimed Hardwood Floor: If your heart is set on traditional hardwood, consider reclaimed wood. This is flooring made from existing wood from trees that were cut down long ago. And salvaged wood flooring from other projects is a great option for older homes and cottages.
Before you purchase all your furniture from that tempting online distributor, consider looking closer to home. Thrift stores may have just what you’re looking for at a fraction of the price, and it keeps items from going to a landfill. Local markets, antique shops and vintage stores always have unique items and you’ll love the thrill of the hunt!
In addition to buying furniture and decor closer to home, doing so can cut down on the fuel and labour costs associated with packing and shipping your items from a far distance. Why buy a rug made from virgin and synthetic materials when you could buy one made locally from recycled felt and natural rubber? Reduce CO2 travel emissions.
The main point is that no matter where you purchase your furniture and decor, be sure to look at the materials you are bringing into your home and try avoid toxins often found in resin, glues, foam, polystyrene, synthetic latex and stains.
Think About The Ethics
Our own well-being as humans, and the well-being of the environment are completely linked. It’s important to consider the labour and ethics behind the products you purchase for your home.
If you’re in the market for quality furniture, accessories and decor, there’s a growing market of products you should look for.
Companies that offer fair-trade certifications and fair working condition certifications mean these items are made by craftspeople in marginalized communities like BIPOC or women. So be sure to consider who is making the items you buy and find out how well they’re treated while doing so.
An Eco-Friendly Home CAN Be Stylish!
It’s only recent that technology has caught up with the demand of more environmental and sustainable products for building and decorating a home. Thankfully, manufacturers are always coming out with more stylish items that their savvy buyers want. Having an eco-friendly home doesn’t have to come at the expense of style. Smart shoppers nowadays can easily find both and feel good about their choices.