Sustainability is one of the key trends for today’s home interiors and architecture. In our increasingly polluted world, we are becoming more and more aware of the negative environmental impact of our actions, which puts ‘green’ approaches to interior design right at the heart of the home. If you want to incorporate more environmentally responsible elements into your next home improvement project, here are four important factors you should be taking into account.
Focus on energy efficiency
Did you know that greenhouse gas emissions caused by our energy consumption is a major contributor to climate change? There’s a lot you can do to improve the energy efficiency in your home in terms of heating, lighting and running domestic appliances.
Well-insulated windows are a good starting point, since most of the building’s heat escapes here. Curtains will keep out the cold air in the winter and the heat of the sun in the summer, while blinds and shades allow you to control the amount of light/heat as needed. Carpets also act as excellent thermal insulators, but make sure you choose natural fibres that have not been chemically treated.
Energy-efficient lighting should start with making the most of any natural light coming in. This could include using a light coloured room scheme and reflective surfaces to increase the amount of daylight. Supplement with artificial lighting using energy-saving LEDs, halogens and compact fluorescent light bulbs that last longer.
Choose sustainable materials
For sustainable building projects, it’s important to prioritise the use of products and materials that have the lowest environmental impact. Obvious choices are natural wood, stone, wool, fast-growing bamboo, etc, as long as they’ve been produced in a responsible way.
Look for labels, standards, and certifications about the product’s provenance. FSC forest certification labels on timber, for instance, are evidence that the wood and paper products were made with materials from well-managed forests and/or recycled sources.
What’s more, the sustainability of a particular product or material should be assessed during its entire life span – from extraction, production, transportation, and processing all the way to its final disposal. Use furniture and products from sources that promote safe production processes and socially responsible business practices.
Reuse, recycle and reduce waste
Sustainable thinking and waste reduction go hand in hand, and perhaps it is high time to reassess our consumerist approach of buying new, when a repair or second-hand replacement would do just as well. Popular sustainable interiors trends now include recycling, upcycling and repurposing.
Why not visit your local architectural salvage yard for reclaimed building materials, fixtures and fittings that add personality to your home? Junkshop finds can be repurposed, refurbished or refinished to give them a new lease of life. Antique furniture or vintage décor is always an exciting option, with ‘preloved’ items adding an eclectic touch to your interiors scheme.
If you want to go one step greener, opt for ‘new’ synthetic products that are made from recycled waste – for kitchen sinks and worktops, wall and floor tiles, carpets and fabrics and more. That way, waste becomes raw material for new products in a circular loop of manufacturing that effectively eliminates waste altogether.
Create healthy environments
Indoor air pollution is a major consequence of climate change, and products and materials with high levels of toxic emissions are largely to blame. We breathe in the daily toxins released into the air by furniture and fittings that have been treated with harmful chemicals. Luckily, an increasing choice of safe and chemical-free, non-polluting products is available, from organic hypoallergenic paint to fabrics and timbers that have not been treated with pesticides, to eco-friendly cleaning products.
To improve their air quality in your home, it’s important to ventilate rooms regularly. Plants can also act as effective natural air filters. A well-known study carried out by NASA in the 1980s identified a whole list of houseplants with detoxifying properties – here’s more information. Why not bring a touch of the Great Outdoors into your home for a natural vibe that’s both healthy and sustainable?