A fresh new week has begun and all is looking rather rosy now I have my new glasses and can see properly again. Although, I have to say there was a positive side to my not writing as much with more time to
daydream think about design and interiors. One such moment caught me procrastinating about our environment and the effect we have on it, especially when it comes to redesigning our homes.
Today’s post is the result of my pondering. How many of us would ultimately choose to go all out and design our homes with our environment in mind? Perhaps, we’ve held back because we think we’d end up with a hippy looking space or could it possibly be we are unaware of the vast array of eco-friendly products out there? So I thought I’d put together a design scheme using only sustainable products for a living room to show just how fabulous being eco-friendly can be.
The Eco-Friendly Living Room & Guide
What To Look Out For
Cork is such a brilliant eco-friendly material. It’s completely natural, recyclable and biodegradable. It also provides wonderful textural surfaces to our homes as well as soundproofing properties if used on walls and flooring. I could go on and on about how marvellous cork is, but as this is a collective of environmentally friendly materials today, you might want to check out my post here on the wonders of cork and our homes later.
Incredibly durable, seagrass is a wonderful natural material. Seagrass actually applies to a range of plants that are grown in water and found in coastal waters around Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. Opting for natural materials ensures that they when they reach their end of life, they are fully biodegradable.
Responsibly Sourced/Ethical Manufacturing
Look for designers like Tom Raffield who approach design with sustainability in mind including their manufacturing methods. Using renewable sources to create a greener carbon footprint, Tom Raffield’s designs are formed by the use of steam bending process; a low energy method of manufacturing which has very little wastage. This process also ensures that there’s no use of toxic or harmful chemicals, just water. The timber is from sustainably managed woodlands where more trees are planted than cut down. This wood is either unseasoned, green or air-dried to avoid energy-intensive kiln drying processes.
Sustainable Materials – Bamboo
If you read my post on Why You should Consider Bamboo For Your Homes, you’ll know that bamboo is a brilliant sustainable material for our homes. It’s not only extremely durable, it’s also naturally water-resistant, and has natural anti-bacterial qualities. Bamboo is a surprisingly versatile sustainable material that is being used to create some amazing products; from hardwearing sustainable flooring like the one below from The Solid Wood Flooring Company to furniture designs like these fab tables from Bloomingville. You really can’t beat bamboo for its longevity and versatility when it comes to our homes.
FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) Accredited
When looking for furniture such as sofas, you can do your bit for the environment by looking for FSC approved sign. Adventures In Furniture is just one company that is committed to producing furniture that is doing their bit for our environment by sourcing wood from responsibly managed forests or recycled timbers. They’ve even won awards for being an eco-friendly company.
FSC stands for Forestry Stewardship Council. The FSC regulates the management of forests, including the rate at which trees are removed for timber. This goes beyond simply ensuring more trees are planted, but also takes into account such things as the biodiversity of old growth forests and the rights of indigenous people who rely on forests for their homes and livelihoods. The FSC doesn’t just certify a forest, but offers a “chain of custody” programme which ensures that the sustainably harvested timber can be tracked all the way from the forest, through sawmills, timber merchants and workshops all the way to the retailer and ultimately your home.
I’ve featured Maud Interiors before here on the blog and just couldn’t resist including one of their vintage handmade Moroccan kilim cushion covers. Ethical and Fairtrade Companies like Maud Interiors offering vintage one-of-a-kind finds provide your homes with a unique look. It definitely beats buying cheap unethically massed produced products.
When it comes to the detail, you can’t beat accessories to add interest and personality to a room. I’ve chosen this pretty recycled Forest Glass bottle vase from Audenza and at £12.50 it’s a steal. I’m loving the green too, which will go with any decor.
On a much larger scale, this Morellow Panja rug is hand-woven using recycled fabric and leftover fabrics to create a wonderful amalgamation of colour and pattern. I’m personally loving the warm autumnal hues, especially at this time of year. It’s a bargain at £105 too!
TIP – ETHICAL TRADE: Look for companies like Ian Snow, who ensure the people who make their goods, are well looked after. In this instance, employees receive benefits such as Provident Fund pensions and employee insurance. The company also supports the Indian blood bank.
Companies such as Little Greene that are committed to protecting the environment by producing VOC free paints and reducing the ecological impact that the paint industry has on our environment.
Conventional paints can contain formaldehyde, heavy metals and other nasties that are known as Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs for short. These VOCs can shockingly last up to five years in your homes. To put it into context, professional decorators are said to have a 40% chance of contracting lung cancer, according to The World Health Organisation. And then there is the cost to our environment. For manufacturers to produce one litre of paint can result in 30 litres of toxic waste!!
To help you choose from the companies that declare eco-friendly on their tins, but aren’t necessarily so, you need to look for plant-based, water-borne paints. The next best thing to look for is plant-based, solvent-borne ones with natural solvents. Try to avoid those using titanium dioxides, which is a big contributor to environmental problems.
So what do we think? Are we converted into going green in the home? It’s certainly one that we should consider more. And, of course, there are many other materials/products that are environmentally friendly that we could choose to don our homes with. All we have to do is be a little bit more mindful when it comes to our shopping habits.
Until next time, thanks for stopping by!