Many of the elements that make up your home are constructed out of materials with massive carbon footprints.
Large volumes of valuable raw materials are used to make furniture, with huge amounts of pollution produced in gathering, transporting and processing the raw materials. Even worse, many old pieces of furniture end up in a landfill.
There is an alternative solution to this terrible waste of the planet’s natural resources. Eco-friendly interiors, which use sustainably-sourced materials, can be both beautiful and innovative.
Let’s take a look at some of the most creative and practical sustainable decor solutions.
Elements of sustainable decor #1
Although wood is a renewable resource, it is currently being harvested at a much faster rate than trees can be replanted. An element of sustainable decor is to use recycled and sustainably sourced wood.
• Using wood from old barns to build your furniture adheres to the principle of reduce, reuse, recycle. You can easily use planks from an old barn to create an eco-friendly bookcase. Remember to check for pests and rot before you start constructing your furniture.
• If you prefer to buy new furniture, make sure that it is made using wood from sustainably managed plantations, where a new tree is planted for every one that is cut down.
• Bamboo is a lightweight yet strong material, which makes it perfect for constructing furniture such as chairs and tables. Bamboo is a sustainable choice because it is one of the world’s least endangered wood species, thanks to its ability to grow quickly in many different parts of the world.
• When choosing outdoor patio or garden furniture, choose a weather-resistant wood such as teak, which will last for decades before needing to be replaced. However, make sure that the teak is sourced from a sustainably managed plantation. Avoid teak that is imported from Burma as this wood is harvested from natural forests, which has a devastating impact on animal habitats.
Elements of sustainable decor #2
Lighting has a huge influence on the atmosphere in your home. However, it can also be one of the biggest sources of wasted energy. Here are some tips for sustainable decor when it comes to lighting your home.
• Choose motion-activated lights that turn off when no one is in the room.
• Always use energy-efficient light bulbs. The Canadian government is phasing out traditional incandescent light bulbs, which waste a lot of energy producing heat rather than light. A ban on manufacturing and selling 75- and 100-watt incandescent bulbs applies starting January 1, 2014, followed by a ban on 40- and 60-watt varieties at the end of that year. If you are still using incandescent light bulbs, now is the perfect time to make the switch to an eco-friendly alternative.
• Energy-efficient bulbs come in a range of styles. Long tubular fluorescent bulbs are good for providing bright light in big rooms, while cone-shaped reflector bulbs are perfect for use in recessed-ceiling lights. You can even buy bulbs that simulate natural light.
Elements of sustainable decor #3
Even the paint you put on your walls can be an environmental disaster. Paint contains volatile organic compounds (VOC) that are emitted when the paint dries, irritating nasal passages and polluting the air.
• Paint sold in Canada must have less than 250 grams of VOCs per liter, but you can buy paint with as little as 50 grams per liter. Using low VOC paint helps to keep our air clean and free from harmful chemicals.
• If you prefer to wallpaper your home, use solvent-free paste to hang wallpaper made from recycled materials.
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