How to Make Your Interior Design More Eco-friendly!
Did you know that, on average, a British person is responsible for the emission of 8.34 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year? For comparison, the average person in the UK has a greater carbon footprint in six days than the average person in Rwanda.
The good news is that the public awareness of the need for environmentally smarter solutions is at an all-time high. The environment is now seen as the third most pressing issue facing the nation, outranked only by Brexit and health.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that we have been receiving an increasing number of requests from our clients and questions from our readers about the different ways to make their interior design more environmentally friendly.
“I recycle. I compost. I use reusable straws, water bottles, and cups. I try to shop at second-hand shops and take my bike or public transport as much as possible. My husband and I are thinking of remodelling and I want to make sure we’re as environmentally conscious as possible...within our budget, of course. Could you provide me with a few suggestions on what we should pay attention to?”
We received this email just last week, but we’ve been answering similar questions for a while. There is no short answer as your choices are endless, depending on your budget and lifestyle. However, we thought we’d summarise the tips that are the easiest to implement.
Switch to more efficient energy consumption
Did you know that, as a nation, we waste around £4.4 billion every year by unnecessarily leaving our lights on? Making steps towards lowering our energy consumption is not only environmentally smart but financially practical. You can save thousands of pounds over the years if you:
Use compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) light bulbs,
Maximise the usage of natural light by placing your work area close to a window or a skylight,
Invest in dimmers,
Add timer- and motion-sensor-controlled lighting in low-traffic areas,
Turn your electrical outlets into smart sockets with smart plugs that will allow you to monitor your energy consumption and can be turned off from your phone, eliminating energy vampires.
Learn how to correctly read the labels
Waterwise: certifies efficient water appliances
Energy Saving Recommended: certifies energy-saving appliances and materials (appliances, windows, insulation)
Carbon Reduction Label: certifies a product’s carbon footprint
British Allergy Foundation Seal of Approval: certifies allergy-friendly products and is especially useful when picking out furniture, carpeting, bedding, etc.
BRE Certified Environmental Profile: certifies construction materials for their environmental footprint
Replace synthetic materials
Try to reduce your usage of plastic and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in interior design or, at least, purchase products made of recycled plastic or bioplastic (plastic materials produced from renewable biomass sources). Reclaimed wood, bamboo, recycled metal, cork – these are all more sustainable materials, which are also highly versatile.
Upcycle as much as you can
Don’t be so fast to throw out old furniture and other items around your house and replace them with new stuff. You will be surprised just how much stuff that you already own can be easily transformed into something new and beautiful, saving you money and decreasing your environmental footprint.
Reupholster your sofa and chairs
Refinish your kitchen cabinets, chairs, tables, nightstands, dressers, worktops etc.
Repaint your picture frames and plant pots
Replace old knobs and other fixtures
If you are really feeling creative, you can do wonders turning old windows into a message board and an old door into a stunning desk.
Purchase from local sources whenever possible
This does, of course, come down to your budget and style preferences. That’s why, if you have that opportunity, do go with a local manufacturer. See if you can find a local furniture designer, for example, or walk around a few flea markets and thrift stores. You will be surprised by some of the treasures you can find there.
Incorporate plants into your interior design
Plants absorb carbon dioxide and help purify the air in your home of chemicals and toxins. They also reduce stress and anxiety. And they instantly make a home look more cosy and warm.
If you are unsure which plants to get, check out these nine plants that don’t require much sunlight.
Purchase less and pay for higher quality
The less you purchase, the less you contribute to your environmental footprint. That’s pretty straight-forward. However, smart shopping for furniture and elements of decor is not about depriving yourself of things that you need or want. Rather, it is focusing on the quality of the stuff you buy.
Durability is an important factor in creating a more eco-friendly design. A study by the University of Arizona found that buying less is better for your health and the environment than buying from “green” brands. It makes sense, too. Every item that you purchase comes with its own history – how many resources went into manufacturing it, the size of the environmental footprint associated with transporting it, and so on. By buying items less frequently, because what you have is of high quality, you are reducing the impact your purchasing decisions make on the environment.
Of course, this list is far from exhaustive. There are so many other little things you can do to create a more eco-friendly design in your home. However, in our experience, trying to commit to all of them at once does not develop sustainable habits. There is little value in making a one-off sustainability-based decision if you don’t make a habit out of it.
We hope the tips we’ve presented to you today will help you make environmentally smarter decisions. If you’d like to share your tips with us or have any questions, we’d love to hear from you!