You’ve installed solar panels for alternative energy, poured concrete for flooring and countertops (instead of using wood or stone), and colored your walls with no-VOC paint that won’t pollute your interior air. The stage is set and now it’s time to fill your house with the functional, comfortable furnishings that will turn it into a home. And believe it or not, every stick of furniture you add to your space can support your eco-friendly sensibilities (even as they support your body and your belongings). Here are just a few ways you can keep your entire living space green when you decide on the décor.
1. Reuse. The best way to go green with furniture is to keep what you already have (so as not to create waste or a need for future manufacturing). If you want to replace only specific pieces, see if you can find a way to reuse it elsewhere in your home. An old bedroom set could go to a new guest room, while an old chest of drawers can be painted and moved to the living room for media storage. And rather than tossing worn couches and chairs, have them reupholstered or simply throw on a slipcover. They’re probably more comfortable and durable than newer furniture anyway.
2. Reclaim. You can likely find reclaimed furniture stores in your area and it’s a great way to get pieces that are still usable and generally refurbished. Best of all, they will cost you a lot less than brand new, provide your space with a fresh look, and help you to reduce your carbon footprint as you furnish your home.
3. Recycle. There are a surprising number of retailers that offer fantastic pieces made from recycled materials. Skateboards can be used for a chair back and bottom while the tip of an airplane wing can be made into a coffee table. Even recycled wood flooring makes for some beautiful cabinets and chairs. You can find some really amazing pieces assembled from recycled goods.
4. Zero-VOC varnish and adhesive. Furnishings for the nursery are sometimes found with these non-toxic sealants and adhesives, but more and more items now feature eco-friendly innovations like these that will keep your home green and your family safe.
5. Sustainable wood. You may think that wooden furnishings should be avoided as a way to halt deforestation. And this is true when it comes to rare hardwoods. But there are definitely sustainable options when it comes to wood. Bamboo is a good choice; it is drought-resistant (so it needs less water) and it grows to full height in as little as three years (plus, it’s gorgeous). You may also want to look for wood that comes from environmentally responsible tree farms.
6. Concrete. It certainly doesn’t sound very comfortable, and yet, loads of outdoor furniture is made from the stuff. For the indoors, though, you can definitely find polished and sealed tables and shelves that will make you forget the lowly cinderblocks you depended on for seating back in college.
7. Organic textiles. When it comes to the finishing touches for your furniture (fabric covers, pillows, throws, and other linens), make sure you get organic textiles whenever possible. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, then consider making these items yourself.
Jamie Ryan is a writer for Everlasting Hardwoods where you can find a great selection of Ipe furniture for your home.