It can be confusing to know what products and materials to use when you’re trying to update your home’s look while being eco-friendly. So, we’ve put together this list of tips to help you redesign sustainably and make your home healthier.
1. Use natural materials
There’s a wide variety of home decor products made from natural materials. Some are obvious, while others are a bit surprising. For example, linoleum is made from wood flour, rosins, ground limestone, powdered cork, pigments, jute, and linseed oil (all natural materials). Bamboo is used for flooring and other products. It can even be used as a structural element. For fabrics, choose cotton and linen. Wood is an obvious choice, although how it’s harvested plays a role in its sustainability (see number 6 below).
2. Save energy
Saving energy reduces the amount of carbon emissions released into the air from power generation. You can save energy by changing existing incandescent and fluorescent lightbulbs for ones with LEDs in them. LEDs last much longer and use only a fraction of the energy used by traditional bulbs. If you’re looking to make a real difference in your energy use, it may be time to update your windows and doors. Today’s windows offer double and triple panes of glass with gases in the middle to improve their insulation value. And well-insulated exterior doors help keep the elements outside, saving on energy and money.
3. Add plants
Plants and other greenery help keep the air fresh, as well as absorb airborne toxins. Humans have a natural desire to be connected to the outside world. In addition, plants have been shown to provide a variety of positive outcomes: improved mood and well-being, cleaner air, increased productivity and reduced stress. Adding a bit of nature to your indoor environment can make you both happier and healthier.
4. Reduce toxins
Volatile organic compounds or VOCs are found in a wide variety of household products and materials. These compounds can cause respiratory health problems, as well as cause bad odors when they let off gas. In fact, the familiar smell of paint and that “new car smell” are the effects of these compounds off-gassing from the materials they’re in. Luckily, today there are a wide variety of low-VOC and no-VOC products available. Use these products, like paints and adhesives, instead of their more toxic cousins.
5. Reuse and recycle
Instead of buying new furniture or other materials to update your look, change or modify what you already have. For example, recover a dingy-looking couch for a whole new look. Or paint a wooden chair to match the decor in a room. Another option is to buy items from a local thrift store or auction website. Reusing and recycling materials is generally less expensive, and it keeps trash out of landfills.
6. Look for labels
There are a variety of product labels designed to help you select more sustainable materials and products. For example, lumber and other wood products can be certified as SFI or FSC. Both labels are proof that the products have been raised and harvested sustainably. When looking for appliances, windows, doors, and other energy-saving products look for the Energy Star label. This label means these products have been shown to save energy over similar products.
7. Buy local
Buying materials sourced from local manufacturers can help save carbon emissions and reduces energy use. Whether products are transported by train, truck, or plane, they all produce greenhouse gases and carbon. In addition, buying local will ensure that the products are designed for the local climate. This can be especially important when sourcing exterior components like windows and doors. You can also help support local craftsmen and artists by choosing their works instead of buying from big-box suppliers.
8. Avoid plastic
If at all possible, avoid purchasing plastic materials. They can be toxic and often aren’t as durable, break easily, and end up in the landfill when they are no longer useful. Watch for hidden plastic materials like polyester fibers and epoxy. Choose products made from durable materials like wood, metal, stone, cement, etc. Using these materials will save you money in the long run and be better for the environment.
Parr offers a variety of building materials that can help you update your home’s look or build something new. We offer quality lumber, windows, doors, cabinets, and paints. Look for your closest store to get the help you need to make your vision a reality.