Simple Ideas for an Eco-Friendly Living Space
Many people think they have to do mayor undertaking and renovation to be greener, you can if you want of course, but in fact you can start by taking small steps to help the planet. There are many little things that each of us can do by doing simple and inexpensive tweaks to reduce waste and chemicals and save fuel and other natural resources. Just take a look at these great ideas to create an eco-friendly home:
Find new uses for old stuff. Turn a wine bottle into a vase and a ladder into a towel rack. Re-purposing things conserves manufacturing energy and landfill space. Check out these cool repurposing ideas.
Try organic-cotton towels. The cotton is grown pesticide-free, and they're fluffy ($5-$15 each, westelm.com). Also, use fabric shower curtains; they have a longer shelf life than the plastic kind, and once you toss them out, they do decompose in landfills.
Add color, not chemicals. Applying regular paint releases toxins that drift from homes into the atmosphere and contribute to air pollution. Look for companies that sell non-volatile organic compounds (VOC) or low-VOCs. They are better for the environment. Try this eco favorite: Benjamin Moore's Aura ($55 a gallon, myaurapaint.com for stores).
Try organic sheets, while you're at it. These 350-thread-count Pottery Barn ones ($89 for full size) feel luxe; Target's organic line is also soft. And don't limit yourself to sheets--go for comforters and duvets in organic cotton, wool or silk, too.
Buy the right wood. Yes, wood furniture and knickknacks are long lasting and stylish, but ecologically, the best pieces are from well-managed forests; look for a seal from the Forest Stewardship Council.
Use eco wallpaper. Look for wallpapers made with nontoxic glues and environmentally friendly fabric. Try Madison and Grow, the wallpaper is hand silk-screened using water-based ink. The papers are clay coated for extra durability and can be wiped with a damp sponge. Their manufacturing process emits no VOC’s.
Control the temperature with window shades. Reducing the amount of fuel used for heating and electricity used for air-conditioning are two key things you can do. Raise shades in winter to let in sunlight and lower them in summer to block out rays.
Buy vintage. The short explanation: New pieces take natural resources to produce; retro ones don't require any. Find deals at ebay.com, garage sales and thrift shops--or raid your grandma's attic for everything from rockers to china. Another great alternative is to buy refurbished/redesigned recycled furniture if rummage sales and a bit of DIY aren’t your thing. Try MetroSofa.com which has Green furniture that is simply gorgeous.
Switch to natural cleaners. They are just as effective as regular products--minus the chemicals that get washed down the drain and can end up in water systems. Mrs. Meyer's makes nice-smelling ones that work for every room in the house (from $5, mrsmeyers.com). You can also make your own non-toxic household cleaners.
Have other great eco-friendly ideas for a living space? Share with us!