If you've read our previous article on building and remodeling your home the eco-friendly way, you're probably wondering how you can also green your home's furnishings. Don't worry, the following tips and resources will help you decorate green just like the professionals. Keep reading to find out how to minimize your use of synthetic, nonrenewable, nonrecyclable resources and maximize your household design with nontoxic, high-quality materials and objects.
DECORATE WITH LOCALLY MADE PRODUCTS
Reduce the environmental impacts of long-distance transportation, help your local economy, and create a market for materials that meet U.S. standards for environmental protection and human health and safety by shopping closer to home.
FAVOR SUSTAINABLE FURNISHINGS
Designs made from recycled and renewable products provide visual satisfaction, as well as practical function and flexibility.
- Make your own furniture from interesting, existing materials such as wheel frames, grapevines, and door frames.
- Use reclaimed lumber from fencing, flooring, and structural supports and paneling. Cabin Furniture and Décor retails hutches, benches, and dining-room tables and chairs made from reclaimed lumber.
- Choose fast-growing wood varieties from sustainably managed forests, such as mango and bamboo. (The bamboo chairs in the photo above are available at Overstock.com.)
- Avoid species known to be threatened, like new teak, mahogany, and woods from fragile tropical or subtropical regions, such as the Philippines , Indonesia , and South America .
- Wood furnishings should have the FSC seal to ensure they were forested with the environment and indigenous cultures in mind.
- Choose upholstery carefully, ones made from organic cotton, durable hemp, or fabrics woven from recycled cotton and polyester blends.
Furnishing made from recycled, organic, or sustainable materials can be more expensive than mass-produced department store models. But every time any of us chooses a green option, those choices become more affordable for all of us eventually. In the mean time . . .
- Consider Antiques: They may add character and charm to your living space, but antiques won't rack up additional energy, water, or other manufacturing costs. In fact, purchasing antiques reduces the amount of waste entering landfills because that “old” furniture isn't being thrown away.
- Buy Online: Check eBay, FreeCycle, Craigslist, and other online communities for quality items at reduced prices.
- Sell Online: Let someone else put that mis-matched couch or chair you have to good use and use the proceeds to help purchase the more expensive Eco-friendly version you've had your eye on.
- Shop at Craft Fairs: Support local artisans who make exquisite but affordable furniture from salvage materials and weavers who create pillows, cushions, throw rugs, and blankets from organic wool and cotton.
EVALUATE FABRIC FOR FURNITURE AND DRAPERIES
What is the cloth and how has it been colored? There are numerous cloth options, ranging from rich and elegant to practical and serviceable. They include:
- Organic silk produced without killing the worms that spin the silk.
- Organic cotton
- Recycled polyester
- Hemp/silk or hemp/cotton blends
- Cotton twills and brushed twills made without chemical finishes or sizing
CHECK OUT ECO-FABRIC DESIGNERS FOR CLOTH AND UPHOLSTERY
- Anna Sova offers ecosafe silk and organic cotton draperies.
- Aurora Silk retails organic silk, yarns, and threads.
- Green Sage features organic textiles for reupholstering furniture or sewing drapers and cushions.
- True Textiles markets Terratex, a fabric made from recycled polyester, corn-based “PLA” fibers, and sustainable wool.