Most of us are actively trying to be more environmentally friendly. Maybe we make an effort to recycle as much as possible, or we grow veggies on a small apartment balcony to decrease our food miles. When it comes to home decor though, “eco-friendly” is associated with some negative stereotypes. In some people’s minds, eco-friendly automatically equates to expensive and ugly. In actuality, the large-scale desire and demand to live more sustainably has made eco-friendly decor more accessible in terms of cost, availability, and variety.
Simply put, eco-friendly decor can make your space more attractive, save you money on your utility bills, and significantly reduce your environmental footprint. Follow these simple tips from Modernize to make your apartment decor more environmentally responsible, while still reflecting your personal style.
Be Smart about Lighting
Natural light can boost your mood and provide you with a much-needed dose of Vitamin D. During the day, open your blinds and curtains to illuminate your home and save money on your electricity costs. As you do need more light, make sure that you are switching your incandescent bulbs out for CFLs or LEDs. They may cost a little bit more money, but they will last 5-10 times longer than your old bulbs.
Don’t Buy New. Practice Upcycling.
Skip the big box stores and flex your creative muscles when it comes time to furnish your apartment. Need a coffee table? Convert an industrial cable spool into a unique table with storage for your books all around the edges. Want a unique headboard that doubles as a work of art? Salvage an old door to make a bold design statement at little-to-no cost. Love vintage suitcases, but have no place to store them? Make them pull double duty as storage and a nightstand by stacking them next to your bed. Thinking of putting an herb garden in your kitchen window? Repurpose tea tins for a funky, colorful alternative to traditional planters. Upcycling already-existing items cuts down on the manufacturing process, meaning less natural resources are used and less carbon dioxide is emitted into the air to transport or process them.
Seek Out Sustainable Materials
When you’re renting and frequently moving from place-to-place it can be tempting to cash in on trendy, inexpensive furniture. Unfortunately, a lot of this furniture is made of particleboard or veneer and doesn’t last very long. If you consider the number of times you’ll have to replace that $60 dining room table, you may want to consider investing in furniture that is more durable and will ultimately be easier on your wallet.
While you’re making an investment in better quality furniture, also look for sustainable materials.
Bamboo is one of the most popular eco-friendly furniture choices available. A typical tree requires dozens of years to reach the size necessary to complete a large dining room table. Bamboo, on the other hand, can reach anywhere from 18-47 inches in a 24-hour period! It also releases 35% more oxygen than the equivalent of forest trees.
Cultivate an Indoor Garden
Plants are a lovely and inexpensive way to decorate your home. They also help purify the air you breathe. Cleaning products, and even your furniture (particleboard, paints, and glues are particularly big culprits) can add formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals to the air in your home. According to Rodale’s Organic Life, “Formaldehyde, a volatile organic compound that is emitted in low levels by a variety of household-building products and furniture, may cause cancer in humans and has been known to trigger asthma attacks and allergic reactions when present in high levels.” You can minimize the toxins in your air by choosing eco-friendly decor and introducing plants that remove indoor air pollutants. A Boston Fern, rubber plant, English ivy, and peace lily are just a few houseplants that are easy to grow and reduce formaldehyde, benzene, and other harsh chemicals from the air in your home.