It is becoming increasingly obvious that our daily behaviour has a direct negative impact on the environment. For example, using plastic bags for groceries, drinking iced coffee through a plastic straw, or purchasing new clothes from a fast fashion store largely contribute to air, water, and land pollution. As a society, we have developed hundreds of habits that are disastrous to the environment. The good news is that many of us are actively attempting to change our actions towards more sustainable living and, if you landed on this article, you are most likely trying to do exactly that. We are happy to assist. Check out our top 7 tips for creating a green interior design in your home.
1. Fix or recycle old items
Before you go on a shopping spree for new furniture, closely inspect your old items. There is a good chance that at least some of it can be either fixed or recycled. For example, applying a fresh coat of paint to your kitchen cabinets can do miracles for your kitchen. You can reupholster dining room chairs, sand down and restore an old wooden table, and replace broken handles. There are also dozens of ways to upcycle your furniture. Turn an old door into a stunning one-of-a-kind table or a dresser into a bench with smart storage for your hallway.
2. Reduce your energy consumption
According to research, 40% of the total world energy is currently consumed by buildings. Most of it goes towards HVAC and lighting systems. Fossil fuels – be it gas, coal, or oil – remain a dominant source of energy. In 2015 it comprised 80.71% of energy consumption in the UK, for example. However, for many of us, taking our houses off the grid and switching to sustainable energy sources is not an option. That’s why the second best thing you can do is reduce your energy consumption. There are several ways to do that:
- Make sure your home is well insulated: doors, windows, attic, floors, and walls;
- Purchase energy-efficient appliances;
- Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs;
- Place your working station closer to windows to take advantage of natural light;
- Use light reflective paint for rooms that you want to be brightly lit.
3. Shop for eco-friendly furniture pieces and items of décor
An increasing number of retailers offer eco-friendly options for furniture and decorative items. They are usually made of reclaimed materials, sustainable wood, recycled metal, or plastic and are low in toxicity. Check out this list for 10 eco-friendly furniture brands in the UK and Europe. You can take it one step further and shop for items that are produced locally, thus helping reduce the environmental cost of shipping.
4. Incorporate waste reduction into your design
There are numerous ways to reduce our daily waste, so why not make it easy by creating an interior design that accommodates this habit. For example, create a hidden, but easily accessible storage for recycling. Allocate extra space in your kitchen cabinets or pantry for reusable containers. Dedicate a space for composting (check out this fantastic guide to composting in apartment living).
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5. Find a balance between durability and eco-friendly materials
When creating an eco-friendly design, try to think not only in terms of the history of an item – the materials used to produce it, transportation, etc. – but of its future. You want to make sure that your furniture stays in good condition for as long as possible, so carefully plan your purchases. For example, leather is a highly durable material for sofas and chairs, but it will cost you a pretty penny. Synthetic microfibers, on the other hand, are stain resistant, but are poisonous to the environment. Check out this cheat sheet for the most environmentally friendly fabrics.
Another important factor to consider when planning for durability is maintenance. Make sure you understand the upkeep needs of each item that you purchase and ask yourself whether it is feasible.
6. Choose eco-friendly paint and wallpaper
The EU has had strict regulations on the level of harmful chemicals in paint for a few years now. However, that doesn’t mean that all paint on the market has the same low level of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) or that VOC is the only factor that differentiates eco-friendly from non-eco-friendly paint. For example, the amount of energy that goes into production and delivery of a product is an important factor in its sustainability level. Here is a useful guide to buying eco-friendly paint, which also offers a list of brands you can look into. Similarly, do research into different types of wallpaper and brands that offer eco-friendly solutions.
7. Add plants to your interior design
We have covered the numerous benefits of indoor plants in previous articles. However, in addition to making your home feel warm and cosy, plants are incredible for a range of health and environmental reasons. They filter out various pollutants from the air, reduce carbon dioxide levels, and help keep air temperature down in summers.
The demand for environmentally sustainable interior design is on the rise. That means more and interior designers in the UK and abroad, brands, and manufacturers will have offer solutions to accommodate this demand. However, don’t blindly buy an item because it has an ‘eco-friendly’ sticker on it. If you want to create a truly eco-friendly design in your home or
office, we recommend to do your own research or consult a professional before making purchasing decisions.