Above recycling and beyond sustainability
What does an eco-friendly and stylish home look like?
Have you ever wondered what your desks, chairs, and everything that surrounds you at home are made of? How they are actually made and what chemicals and materials were used to make it? What was the process before it arrived at your home, and how much impact that had on the environment? Nowadays, we are faced with the unavoidable problem of climate change every day. Progressively, we’re all making the effort to live more sustainably by carefully collecting and separating waste, swapping nylon bags for biodegradable ones, and making changes in our everyday life where we can. The interior design industry is a sector where consideration for sustainable alternatives isn't given the time day.
We were in the same shoes until the day we attended a Green Marketing Conference and realised change was essential, and something we were going to identify ourselves with by making it an integral part of our companys ethos. When we started to brainstorm about designing sustainable spaces a particular question made us very curious:
Is it possible to create an aesthetically pleasing and eco-friendly design at the same time?
We thought that the best idea would be to follow this green line throughout an entire project; where we create a sustainable eco-friendly home that also meets our taste. We wanted to prove that it is possible and feasible to live in a sustainable home. It’s at this point we started to plan the ideas and solutions in this article, aiming to reduce the environmental damage we cause to mother nature.
Let’s see how is this look like in practice
The first thing to consider is the conditions and capabilities of the space. If it is a used one, you can renovate the coverings and also the doors and windows with a skilled professional. If this isn't possible just stick with the natural materials.
For the flooring, the best options are corkwood, bamboo, linoleum and wood parquet with an FSC certificate (this certificate guarantees that these products have come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits).
In terms of carpets, we chose jute, but coconut fiber, sisal, and seaweed products are also perfectly eco-friendly and conscious choices. Wool is also a great natural option, but we prefer cruelty free products. These natural elements in your home can reduce pollution and they are also anti-allergic and antistatic. You can find some cute natural rugs in Naturflor, so it is totally recommended to visit their shop.
If you have the opportunity and desire to care about the heating side of things, we recommend you to switch to a heat pump combined with floor and ceiling heating and cooling systems. This system is also available for old build homes, if you have the space for the outdoor unit; it’s also possible to change the radiators or convectors into some kind of surface heating. This is the most efficient and eco-friendly option available in the market right now. We should also discuss solar panels, which can be a dauntingly large investment upfront but will generate a return in seven to ten years. Solar power is an unlimited renewable energy source constantly available for us and is considered eco-friendly nowadays.
When buying furniture we always prefer natural materials. Try to avoid plastic and other unnatural elements. For example, corkwood is eco-friendly, because when you harvest it, you don’t have to cut out and kill the tree, the crust can regenerate itself. We loved the idea and that’s why we choose the side table from Vitra and the Lolipop lamp. Check them out in the pictures.
Another option for the environmentally conscious designer is recycled furniture. For example, the DesignByThem Confetti Collection is an awesome initiative, and all of their products are made of 100% recycled plastic. Additionally Adventures in furniture is the perfect sustainable provider; they only use recycled solid wood or FSC approved options which is why we choose their couch to our project. We loved the Eco-rating tab, where you can see and understand each furniture’s eco-friendly evaluation.
While we’re on the topic of furniture, we have to mention Fészek Részek, which is a completely vegan and sustainable furniture manufacturer. They only use the laws of physics to assemble furniture elements, so they don't need any other material than wood.
Bamboo is the perfect solution if we are speaking about naturality. It’s fully compostable so even after we stop using them, it can be recycled easily by composting. It has plenty of good properties so we can use it in a wide range of solutions - like a lamp in the bedroom or even a toothbrush (it is a perfect and environmentally conscious choice to get rid of the detrimental plastic ones).
For curtains and pillow covers we recommend chemical free linen. We also found a nice alternative for the eco-friendly mattress.
We found the shop of Naturillo when we were looking for chemical free paint options and we were amazed again by the wide variety of products, colours, and techniques. Do you know that when one litre ordinary paint is manufactured it can result in thirty litres of toxic waste, like formaldehyde, which can cause asthma and allergies after you put it into your wall? For furniture painting we recommend Auro products.
For decor items and accessories we highly recommend flea markets and shops, who sell used items, where you can find real hidden treasures for small money usually. If you buy things just please be steadfast and conscious about it. Always try to check the ingredients and widen your own knowledge about eco-friendly options, like soy candles (as normal candles also can be toxic). Plants and flowers (in pots) are the best decor items, not just because they are beautiful, but they can purify the air in your home for example from the previously mentioned formaldehyde.
With kitchen machines, you should look for the Energy Star tag and always check the energy rating to be A++. For countertops we recommend quartz, but bamboo can be a good solution too. The best idea, if you want to reduce water consumption is to buy water saving taps, but you can also buy water-saving adaptors, which will help to have the same effect via your old tap.
We have to mention IKEA Kungsbacka, which is made from recycled wood and PET bottles. They are constantly widening the variety of conscious and eco-friendly products.
If you have the opportunity you should consider planting some herbs, vegetables, fruits in the garden or on your terrace. You can reduce plastic waste and can have plenty of yummy bio food within reach if you choose this route.
There are composting boxes in the market for really enthusiastic eco humans in order to turn waste into useful materials that can feed your plants. The best bit? You don’t even have to own a garden for it!
The previous solutions also work in the bathroom. Ecomalta is an interesting material to get to know as it’s environmentally friendly, recyclable, and colour with sustainable pigments. The tile on the wall called Mirage Norr is made of porcelain and totally eco-friendly.
Opinions are - naturally - subjective, but when we came to finishing the plans we realised and wanted to share a few key things:
- You don’t have to sacrifice design on the altar of sustainability and consciousness
- There are plenty of opportunities and possibilities available everywhere. You just have to open your eyes, ears, and mind and be conscientious of what you choose to work with
- This won’t be news to you but it is so important to act now in order to give our kids a better future
- This project was about a home but this could be any space in any size where the positive effects can be doubled
- We are here and ready to help you armed with all kinds of information about eco-friendly design if you are interested. Feel free to get in touch with us about any space. We can help reduce harmful substances from your home, restaurant, coffee shop, hotel or anywhere you can think of.
- Because we care for nature, after every project we plant trees to give back.
Let’s work together, Andi and Nora