DESIGN

Make Your Home More Green: The Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Materials

The more I see and read about the state of this planet, the more depressed I get. In this design world where the majority of my focus is with this blog, it is certainly not easy to figure out what’s right and wrong, what to look for if you want to make the conscious choice when buying furniture.

To make it a little bit easier for you to make better choices next time you shop for your home, I have created a guide to bring your home and the planet in a more sustainable direction.

  

Bamboo is an evergreen perennial flowering plants in the grass family, which grows fast, is super sturdy, and really beautiful. This natural material has a soothing aesthetic, which makes bamboo furniture great in the interior without compromising the environment. To obtain the most effective bamboo production all parts should be used, including the darker parts, which normally is discarded. That’s really a shame, as it gives a unique and natural play of colors when used properly, like Ikea’s Knixhult lamps (shown above).

Wool is a real sustainable material, because of its longevity, being durable and resistant to stains. Wool also doesn’t need to be washed often, if ever, so the environmental consumer impact is pretty low. When shopping for wool products, you need to make sure that the manufacturer knows where their wool comes from. Look for the Responsible Wool Standard, a global standard that addresses the welfare of sheep and of the land they graze on.

Like bamboo Rattan is one of nature’s most sustainable products to use in the interior, because of its really longevity. Rattan is a fast-growing natural fiber, which needs to be boiled and sundried before use. This process gives it endless potential, as it can be bend and formed in all directions. One of my favorite brands using rattan is Spanish Expormim, who creates so many stunning, almost artsy, pieces for the interior.

Cotton is of course very important raw material in the interior, its used in everything from couches and pillows to bedding and mattresses. Cotton production is pretty harmful for the nature, as it is often linked to pesticides, fertilizer, and a lot of water. Cotton is only sustainable when its reused and grown with consideration for the environment. Big fashion brands are leading the way and together with WWF they are signing up for the Better Cotton Initiative. Among interior brands that have already sign up is Ikea, H&M, and Marimekko. I would love to see MANY more. The BCI ensures that brands only used recycled cotton or cotton grown with less water, fertilizer, and pesticides – they even make sure that the farmers get a bigger cut. Keep an eye out for recycled cotton items next time you shop for your home – and needless to say, but I am going to anyway, make sure to recycle your old pillows, sheets, and beds.

Wood is a material with endless possibilities. It is durable, recyclable, and there is so many different types and qualities. All homes have some furniture in wood, my guess is the majority of what you own is wood. We are uniquely reliant on forests – without them, life as we know it would not exist. We’ve exploited our forests through the ages, but if we give them the chance, they will bounce back. Trees are our allies against climate change, because they help absorb and store carbon, always look for sustainable labels like FSC certifies or recycled. Interior brands who doesn’t use FSC certified or recycled wood already need to start NOW.

Plastic is probably the material we talk most about these days. It is basically inevitable to live an everyday life without getting in touch with plastic. Luckily, I guess, experts predict that our oil- and gas supplies will be exhausted in just 50 years, and hereby also the sources for plastic. Obviously, we need to start looking for other materials for the many plastic products we use every day. The easy one, is of course to start reusing all the plastic we have produced and leave on landfills around the globe. Many brands have started already, creating products in either recycled PET-bottles, ferm living some pretty cool rugs last year, or bioplastics, which is made from sugar beets, corn, and straw. However, not all bioplastic is good, as it won’t dissolve itself if left in nature. Oxo-degradable plastics might be sold as a good thing with some brands, reality is, it might be broken down in nature, but it won’t disappear, just made into very small pieces. Another Danish brand, who I’ve talked a lot about on this blog in the past is Mater, they reproduced one of Nanna and Jørgen Ditzel’s chairs from 1955 in recycled plastic made by fishing nets and plastic waste from the oceans.

 

Always think recycle and eco-friendly alternatives if you want a more sustainable home and lifestyle – at least do it for future generations and the health of our planet. Always make sure your old furniture is recycled or sold/given away to someone else, when you buy new pieces. It is so important that we don’t keep overuse the limited resources we have on this planet, especially if we want humanity to survive for the next many generations.

 

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