The thought of creating an environmentally friendly home immediately brings up all the criticisms of “going green:
* It’s too expensive.
* It’s a fad.
* It’s UGLY!
Fortunately, architects, designers and decorators have been listening to these complaints and they’ve come up with some improvements. However, the first improvement that needs to take place is your own attitude toward sustainable living.
The idea behind the sustainable living movement is making choices that are “less,” that is, using less water, less energy and fewer non-renewable resources while still create a home that’s comfortable and beautiful.
For instance, not all “green” home decor is expensive. In fact, the decorating style known as Shabby Chic actually centers on re-using quality furnishings that have fallen on hard times. The key is to develop an eye for quality that can see past the inevitable nicks, dents and scratches of a lifetime of use. Stores such as those operated by The Salvation Army, Goodwill and many other charities often carry this items. Some designers recommend giving recycled furniture and accessories a fresh look by painting them white, one of Shabby Chic’s basic colors.
Say for instance you need a new dining room table. Rather than simply buying one from a furniture store, consider other options, such as a purchase from a secondhand store that can be reconditioned, or even building your own using a table base kit and recycled lumber from a junkyard.
Another way to ensure your home decor is eco-friendly is to check the materials that make up any furnishing, flooring or accessory. For instance, did you know that some kinds of new carpet emit formaldehyde vapors? Or that certain kinds of dyes can actually be toxic to humans? If we can read nutrition labels to determine what’s in our food, certainly we can find out what’s in the materials we use to decorate our homes.
On the other hand, if you’re fond of an existing part of your home decor that’s made from natural materials – such as a wool area rug — you don’t have to replace it. However, if you’re striving to “green” your decor, consider some of the new area rugs offered by several manufacturers. These stylish rugs are made from recycled materials and colored with non-toxic dyes. Being modular, they give plenty of flexibility in arranging your “green” decor.
Speaking of change, don’t add to the waste stream by simply tossing out your old furnishings as you redecorate. Instead, contact conservation organizations such as The ReUse People, who will check your throwaways for reusable items, collect them and send them to organizations such as Habitat for Humanity. You can even get tax credit by donating in this way, which could pay for your redecorating.
Finally, if you do purchase some new items for your “green” decor, don’t have to fret that you’re not really being green. Underwriters Laboratories – yes, the folks who set the standards for light bulbs, toasters, coffee makers, etc. — has just launched a new UL Environmental. Its purpose is to work with manufacturers to validate, test and certify environmentally sustainable projects and to help consumers make sense of products’ “green” claims.