L: Annie Sloan, R: Skagerak
Change starts at home, as the saying goes, and to mark the 52nd Earth Day this year, we’re taking a look at how you can decorate your home in a more sustainable way.
Earth Day is the world’s largest civic event, featuring beach clean-ups, climate talks, demonstrations, educational programs, festivals and more. Earth Day occurs on April 22 each year and originated in the United States in 1970 and is widely credited with starting the modern environmental movement.
Since its inception, Earth Day events, campaigns and initiatives have resulted in the planting of over 100 million trees, mobilized 36 million volunteer cleaners and advanced the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.
The goal of Earth Day is to inspire long-term action beyond April 22 and encourage individual responsibility for our planet. Read on for 5 ways to make your home more sustainable, according to experts…
1. Give your furniture a facelift
“Low waste living and upcycling are at the heart of creating a mindful home,” says Sophie Hill, Marketing, Insight and Innovation at Rothley. “We’ve definitely seen a rise in upcycling that’s likely to continue – from sewing and remodeling old outfits to making patio furniture out of wooden pallets. For the less experienced DIYer, taking an old piece of furniture and customizing it is a great way to reduce waste and also means no one else will have the same piece as you.”
Lucy Ackroyd, Christy’s Head of Design, suggests painting or wallpapering old furniture – Annie Sloan’s range of chalk paints and decoupage papers (pictured above) are perfect for this.
“Instead of throwing away your old furniture and buying new, a coat of paint could just be the magic you’re looking for to transform your unloved closets, tables and shelves from drab to luxurious,” says Lucy. “As well as paint, you can also add decals, vinyl or even wallpaper to update storage units – don’t forget to swap out knobs and handles for more grand looking fixtures and accessories.”
2. Purchases to support communities
Sourcing handmade textiles and accessories is one of the easiest steps to a more sustainable home design. Products that use traditional craftsmanship—particularly techniques that still require human hands—are less environmentally invasive and can support artisan communities.
Christy’s SPUN cushion range is made from recycled materials by Indian artisans, The Rattan Company sources and crafts its rattan products from local farmers and artisans in Southeast Asia who support a natural economy, while Nkuku stock a wide range of traditional Kilim textiles that still exist are woven, braided and sewn on handlooms.
3. Rely on quality for your hard-wearing textiles
Extend the life cycle of durable textiles such as towels, mattresses and bedding by buying quality pieces made from natural or recycled materials.
John Lewis has a selection of EarthKind™ bedding that uses recycled natural fillings from used pillows and duvets, which are then sorted, cleaned and remade by hand. And our own Country Life Mattresses at Dreams are handcrafted in the UK from the highest quality British wool, which is 100% natural, renewable and biodegradable.
“Keeping textiles out of landfills is another important way to protect our environment,” says Lucy. “To avoid immediate wear and tear, buy quality towels. Since towels are such hardworking bathroom accessories, that’s exactly why you should invest in them. Look for towels with double folded edges and double stitching, which reduce the risk of the towel fraying over time. The higher quality the towel, the longer it will last, which will save you money and the planet in the long run as you won’t have to replace your towels as often.”
4. Choose the most natural materials
“Sustainability and the use of organic materials have become more important in recent years,” says Ben White, design and retail specialist at Swyft. “With increasing public exposure to climate change, the idea of sustainability has entered the home furnishing industry and our homes. This will be reflected in the way we buy furniture: a move towards furniture made with reclaimed woods and accessories made with recycled glass and metal. .Investing in useless furniture and accessories is a thing of the past.”
Some of the most sustainable materials for your home are:
- Bamboo – one of the most renewable resources available due to its ability to grow rapidly in different climates.
- Wool – a renewable, biodegradable and recyclable fiber. Certified organic wool guarantees that no pesticides are used either on the pasture or on the sheep themselves.
- Cork – only the bark of the cork tree is harvested, eliminating the need for felling.
- Teak – When it comes to wood, teak is a safer choice as trees in Indonesia are subject to strict government policies with restrictions on felling and a reforestation program.
- Hemp – Grown free of pesticides and fertilizers, hemp uses 50% less water in the manufacturing process than cotton.
5. Go green with color
VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are found in many household products and appliances, including cleaning products, refrigerators, and paint. They can enter our environment and, in the most severe cases, cause eye, nose and throat irritation and respiratory problems. Aside from adverse health effects, the emission of VOCs into the atmosphere causes the formation of ground-level ozone, which leads to smog.
If you’re redecorating your home, look for low or no VOC paint – most paint manufacturers list VOC levels on their paint cans, so make sure they’re 5g/L or less – and there are additional benefits if your paint is air purification, reducing pollutants in the environment.
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