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How to Decorate A Home Sustainably

Reading these eco-friendly home décor tips will open your eyes to see just how simple it can be to become more eco-friendly in your home design decisions. If you've just recently moved into your home, eager to decorate, or you're looking to update your current interior design, it's a good idea to put some effort into the effect that your home renovations and decorations may have on the environment. Weather you're a well-seasoned environmentalist or someone who's barely given sustainability a second thought until now, these tips and ideas will be a great resource for you.

1. Choose Natural Materials

Earth-derived materials are usually better for the earth as they are less toxic and will biodegrade over time. Plus, they are often higher quality and more aesthetically pleasing than man-made products! Often times, natural sustainably sourced materials may require a bit of extra care, such as dry cleaning.

Some of my favorites are :

  • Wool (carpets, pillows, throw blankets)

  • Wood sourced from sustainable forests (furniture, storage, flooring)

  • Wicker (furniture, baskets, decorations)

  • Bamboo (light fixtures, furniture, containers, flooring, etc.)

  • Jute-Sisal (rugs, carpet, baskets)

  • Cotton (linens, towels, upholstery)

2.Upcycle items you already have or purchase second hand.

You would be surprised by what you find hanging out at thrift shops, garage sales, or online resale markets. Many items may still be brand new but offered at a lower price, or are only gently used and need little to no care. Checking second-hand shopping options is smart for your wallet and the earth. It reduces the carbon footprint and emissions caused by manufacturing, shipping, excess packaging waste.

We can also repurpose items we already have on hand to reduce the amount of landfilled waste and manufactured goods. For example, an old rug(if pretty) can be made into pillows, a beanbag, a wall hanging. An old bowl or pitcher from the kitchen can become a flower pot or flower vase. This is when decorating becomes so much fun and personal. Getting creative in designing your space with things you have or find is a beautiful way to make your house your own, so that it feels more like home.

3. Choose plastic products that are recycled/recyclable.

You should first check your local area to find out which materials are able to be recycled, and aim to steer clear of those plastics that are not. Some areas allow any plastics to go into curbside bins, while some only accept a few. Here in Nassau County, only plastics labelled #1 & #2 are allowed in the curbside bins. Other materials may be recycled, but need to be dropped off at a specific location or recycling facility.

Buying fewer man-made materials will mean less destruction of the planet. Plastic and waste is a huge issue because plastic takes centuries to degrade. It's a good idea to make the switch to purchasing plastics that are made out of recycled plastics, to reduce the amount of plastic that gets landfilled.

In the flooring industry, there are several carpet options that are marketed as fully recyclable. Once recycled these carpets will be melted down to form new carpet or other plastic products. However, the process to recycle those carpets is difficult, costly and out of reach for many homeowners. On the other hand, many carpet manufacturers offer a line of carpets that are comprised of 50-100% recycled plastic, boasting that one square yard of carpet contains as much as 37 plastic bottles. This is an amazing way to make use of recycled plastic on a large scale and makes a big dent in the amount of landfilled plastic and carpet. Still, when it comes to plastics, use and buy them sparingly, choose materials wisely, and recycle as much as possible.

4. Invest In quality items that will last.

Two well-known clichés ring true for this tip. The first, "quality over quantity", and the second, "you get what you pay for." Purchasing cheaper items to save money may seem smart, but ends up being more costly down the road. Its usually more cost effective to buy higher priced items that are well-made, as they will have a longer lifespan than the least expensive alternative. It simply makes no sense to purchase something that will need to be replaced within a year, when you can spend a little extra on a similar product that may last 2-5 times longer.

Furniture is a great example of this. Quality made furniture (like almost all antique furniture), that's framed with real hard wood and upholstered in strong fabrics with classic brass tacks, will stand strong and serve a purpose for decades, long after the material's pattern has gone out of style. However, a good amount of modern day furniture is built using composite or particle "wood", and covered with cheaply made fabrics. These pieces are much more likely to become dilapidated, worn, and warped, within a few short years. Since the furniture was so affordable, it's not worth the labor and materials it takes to repair the piece(if repair is even a possibility) making these sofas and chairs much more likely to be landfilled than other pieces of furniture that are 20+ years older and still holding up well!

The same can be thought of when it comes to carpet or rugs. Ever notice that oriental and Turkish rugs, while they may be expensive, stay strong and vibrantly colored throughout the decades? How many cheap rugs would need to be purchased and replaced within that same amount of time? This is not to say that you can't find quality products at great prices. There are some great deals out there. However, when making purchasing decisions, it's always worth a second thought about how the product was made, how much use and abuse it will endure, and low long it will likely last in your home. Go for the higher quality, so that you're not replacing it and producing more waste than necessary.

5. Repair damaged items.

When items become worn or damaged, don't immediately toss and replace them! It's worth a quick search in your local area for experts that may be able to help with repairing or restoring it. If we want to be more sustainable in our actions, we need to stop the mindset that everything is disposable or replaceable. For example, furniture can be repaired at your local upholstery shop. Rugs can be repaired by your local carpet binding experts(that's us at Creative Edge!)

I hope these ideas have inspired some simple and sustainable choices as you decorate your home, rental property, or your business. If you have other ideas for eco-friendly interior designing or resources for purchasing sustainable products or ways to upcycle items I would love to hear from you!

If you have a rug that has been damaged or that no longer fits in your space, please call us rug repair experts, I would love to help you fix it or modify it to suit your needs!

Thanks for reading and happy decorating!

Alexis Buchanan

Founder-Creative Edge

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