The drive to be more eco-friendly is gaining traction. As the average citizen becomes more aware of the issues facing the environment; so does the role people are playing in said issues. More and more are interested in doing their part, and ‘greener’ goods are becoming increasingly available.
When it comes to interior design, you may worry a ‘greener’ home means an uglier one, but nothing could be further from the truth. If you are thinking of tweaking your interior and want to be more environmentally aware in your efforts; here are just a few ways to accomplish that goal.
While it may not be common obvious, flooring is one area where you can make a big impact in our eco-friendly efforts. Much of traditional flooring is anything but ‘green.’ Not only does this cause issues for the environment, but it may cause issues for you as well. For example, many traditional carpets are full of nasty chemicals that slowly leak out into your home, and into your body.
If you like your carpeting, you have a few different options that are better for the planet and your health. Wool is one such choice. This natural resource can easily be spun into thread, and like regular carpet, dyed in every shade possible. It is also highly durable, and will last a long time (provided you take good care of it). P.E.T berber is another choice to consider. This sustainable carpet material is made out of plastic bottles! You can find it in a variety of colors and styles, it is highly durable, and resistant to spills. Other natural materials to look for include sisal, jute and cotton.
Cork is another great material that can be directly harvested from the bark of the tree, meaning it does not even need to be cut down. It takes just three years to grow back, making it very sustainable. Bamboo, which is actually a grass, is as hard, or harder than the most common types of trees used in wood flooring. It grows to maturity every three to five years. You can find it in a variety of shades, making it easy to find one that fits in the scheme of your design. You can also use glass tiles made from recycled bottles, or concrete, which can be polished and tinted to look like ‘regular’ flooring.
Energy Friendly Window Treatments
Energy-efficient homes can also be attractive ones, with eco-friendly window treatments available in a huge array of colors and styles. An awning can really add something to the outside of the home, and keep your cooling bills in check by blocking up to 65 percent of solar heat on south-facing windows and 77 percent on those facing the west, during those hot summer months.
Blinds don’t have to be boring, and are a great way to conserve energy in the summer—when completely closed, they can reduce heat gain by about 45 percent. While you may be thinking of those boring, plain white ones, you have so much more variety than that. For example, plantation shutters, which are thick wooden blinds, come in a variety of shades, and can be a great addition to any room.
Drapes can really pull a room together, and can be a perfect finishing touch on a room, but if you want to be more eco-friendly, choose carefully. Medium-shade drapes with white plastic backing can reduce heat gain by about 33 percent. Drapes with black-out materials can help keep heat in during the winter and heat out during the summer. Keeping them closed during the day may not be ideal, but always keep them closed at night for optimal effectiveness.
When it comes to furniture, there are lots of ways to be more eco-friendly. If you are looking for upholstered materials, opt for those covered in organic fabrics and stuffed with natural latex foam. When it comes to wood furniture, look for products with the FSC logo—this eco-friendly certification from the Forest Stewardship Council means the product was harvested in accordance with their strict standards. Or, like flooring, you might consider going with bamboo products—remember, just like wood, but much more sustainable.
If a piece of furniture is marked as ‘stain-resistant’, it contains a host of harmful chemicals that are used in the manufacturing of Teflon, the product used for this purpose. Anything made from manufactured wood products, like plywood and particleboard, contain glues made from formaldehydes.
These are just a few tips for designing a more eco-friendly home. Make whatever changes you can, it all adds up.