Interior design need not be wasteful or bad for the environment, there are many great tricks and materials you can use for a sustainable home.
QUALITY NOT QUANTITY
The first tip is quite simple. Buy less and buy better. When choosing large or even small ticket items for your interiors choose items you are going to love, not just now but long into the future. If you buy the best quality you can afford, those items will last longer, wasting less resources. For example, choosing a rug made from resilient and practical Merino wool will keep your home looking great and feeling comfortable for many years while a slightly cheaper synthetic rug will wear out and need replacing much sooner, ending up costing you and the environment much more.
Being environmentally conscious doesn’t have to break the bank. Another way of decorating your home in an eco-friendly way is to recycle or up-cycle. And we don’t mean separating your milk cartons from your glass jars. If you are looking for that perfect chair or coffee table, look first at what you and your family and friends already have. That sofa you have fallen out of love with could look great used in a different room or with updated cushions or coverings. Or the dining chairs your sister no longer likes might look better in your home than hers with a fresh coat of paint or seat covers.
If you don’t find what you are looking for close to home try your local antique store. Don’t forget that buying locally (rather than online or from overseas) is also best for the environment as it uses fewer fuels. Websites like ebay and gumtree where you can arrange to collect an unwanted item from a seller in a nearby suburb are also a great option. Giving a new use to something that would be otherwise discarded will not only save you money but have more meaning and make you feel great about your purchase.
When purchasing something new for your home consider first what the product is made of. For example, blankets and throws should not be made of man-made materials created in large pollution creating factories. Instead, choose a blanket made from Merino wool, a completely renewable resource grown year-round on the back of sheep using just air, water and grass.
THINK OUTSIDE THE HOMEWARES STORE
Looking for that perfect artwork or decorative item for your mantelpiece? Rather than purchase an expensive and not sustainably produced dish or sculpture look to your environment, literally. A piece of driftwood found on a nearby beach will have more meaning to you and cost nothing financially or environmentally. Similarly weaving yourself a wall hanging made from Merino wool will mean more to you, be more unique and ultimately better for the environment. Look also to local artists using sustainable materials. Instagram can be a great place to discover someone in your area making beautiful and one-of-a-kind pieces. You’ll be not only protecting the environment by not adding freight to your purchase but you’re supporting someone doing good for the world by using sustainable materials.
The best way to have an energy efficient and therefore environmentally friendly home is to insulate it well. Using Merino wool carpets, roof and floor insulation and curtains will regulate the temperature of your home, keeping it warm in winter and cool in summer and in turn, reducing the need for air conditioning.
Illustration: Barry Allen Patenaude