Why have an environmentally sustainable home?
I have become much more aware of the need for environmental sustainability in my home over the last few years. The climate crisis is a global problem and I often thought “Well, what can I do that will help solve such an enormous problem?” It is quite overwhelming. I always thought I was doing my ‘bit’ by recycling plastics, glass, paper, cardboard etc. My recycling bin was always full!
Then as I was making purchases to furnish my newly renovated home I realised that, not only did these items come in lots of packaging but I hadn’t really considered what materials they were made from or if they were eco friendly or ethically sourced. That was my turning point. I began to research ways to improve my approach to protecting our planet.
Where do you begin to create such a home?
I began to explore the practical ideas on how to furnish and decorate my home in a way that was practical, affordable and ultimately kind to the environment. I searched for companies that focus on sustainability and sell ethically sourced, eco-friendly products. Now some products I came across were quite expensive and beyond my budget at the time, so I knew I couldn’t purchase everything at such a high price. I eventually decided that I would follow the 5 R’s methodology of sustainability and use these practices to create an eco friendly home without sacrificing quality and style. Here is a brief outline of the 5 R’s with some simple examples of my approach towards a more sustainable lifestyle.
Refuse to buy items for your home that are unnecessary or that you don’t need. Now I’m not saying you have to have the bare minimum of furnishings (unless Minimalist Style is your thing), but thinking carefully about what you are buying, where it is manufactured and what materials it is made from goes a long way to helping protect our planet.
I initially wondered what was meant by unnecessary. Would a piece of art work or an ornament be deemed unnecessary? I decided that this wasn’t the case because we can connect emotionally to these items and we definitely need a sense of well being in our home.
Reduce those impulse purchases and particularly reduce the use of items that cannot be recycled in any way or that may be considered harmful to the environment. Using natural, biodegradable materials such as wood, wool and cotton in your home rather than plastics will make a big difference. Bamboo is considered sustainable and a good choice for furnishings but you may want to check out if chemicals are used in the process of making items. Rattan is also a popular choice in interior design due to its biodegradable qualities, Natural products can create a stylish, welcoming environment in your home.
Reuse old items rather than throw them out. If it is broken, then see if it can be repaired before buying something else to replace it. Some old pieces of furniture just need a bit of TLC and they’ll be as good as new, as well as having the advantage of saving you money too. Speaking of saving money, the ‘Reuse” method can definitely do that if you check out local pre-loved shops or charity shops for some unique pieces for your home. Gumtree and FaceBook marketplace have lots of good bargains too. Some are giving away items for free! So you are saving money and preventing items going into landfill.
If you don’t want to reuse your items, then see if a charity shop will take them. They are always looking for donations and as the saying goes ‘one man’s trash, is another man’s treasure’.
Get creative and repurpose items you already have in your home. Turn a stool into a side table or a small basket into a plant pot holder. You could simply have a reorganisation and move furniture into different rooms and see how it looks. We get so used to seeing the same old pieces in a particular place and sometimes having a switch around can really help to revamp a room.
I have used this approach in my home many times. I had two matching occasional tables that were previously in my lounge. I decided to repurpose them as bedside tables and they look great in my bedroom. I have repurposed a small wooden chest into a side table and a chest of drawers into a shoe rack. Trying out a variety of uses for the furnishings you already have will cost nothing and may fit perfectly into your restyled space.
After all other options have been considered for your items, (donating to a friend or charity for example) then recycling is preferable to allowing it to go into landfill. Find out if there is a recycling plant near you that will take your items. Recyclenow.com is a useful website to use. You just have to enter your postcode and they will list all recycling services near you. Some local councils may charge for a pick up service but some charities may offer this service free of charge.
So that is my outline of the 5 R’s that can be considered when working towards furnishing an eco friendly home. I hope some of these ideas have inspired you to delve a little deeper and experiment for yourself.
I myself am ‘a work in progress’ with regards to living sustainably so I am constantly exploring and trying out different ideas. I often refer to my daughter if I need some suggestions for best practices and she will point me in the right direction for inspiration.
I have a busy summer planned as I’m going to be decorating my youngest daughters room (with environmental sustainability in mind) and will be considering the 5 Rs as I do so. I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences with you.
If you have any additional suggestions that I should consider, or any comments on this article then please leave a message below.