Although we’d like to think of sustainable living as the norm, rather than a trend, we still have a long way ahead of us to achieve this. On the other hand, thinking of sustainability as “cool” and “trendy” isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Wrapping positive habits in a beautiful package means we’ll only get more excited about it, and hopefully, influence others to do so, too. As the American spiritual author Wayne Dyer said, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”.
In an ideal society, we would live in harmony with nature, preserving the resources of the planet and guarding the wellbeing of the ecosystems for the next generations to live in. Similarly, when it comes to sustainability in our homes, we would be thinking of how to transform our environment in a way that it lasts longer, leaving a positive impact and supporting a healthier lifestyle for its habitants.
As leading lifestyle consideration, sustainability is the focus of interior design in 2022, increasingly seen in the responsible use of materials, the incorporation of biophilic design elements in home decoration, the choice of long-lasting furniture pieces and the challenge to repurpose and reuse as much as possible.
From shopping more responsively to repurposing old furniture, here is a list of 7 things you can do to transform your home into a space that is a pioneer of sustainability.
When deciding on your furniture styles, look for handmade pieces and opt for brands that use sustainable manufacturing practices. By choosing a local brand, you’ll reduce pollution from shipping, encourage the growth of the local economy and support small businesses.
If you want to go for a cheaper option, browse the local second hand stores - you might find the perfect vintage piece you were looking for! If you’re working on a big remodelling project, then materials are key. Seek out the ones that are made closer to your location, whether that be wood flooring, paint or doors.
Amongst the many benefits of choosing locally sourced furniture pieces, buying local would reduce pollution by cutting down on fuel for transportation. Supporting local manufacturers also means strengthening the local economy and community. Furthermore, you can reduce the risk of engaging with companies that have unfair working conditions for workers abroad.
2. Reuse and Restyle
What’s more sustainable than reusing things you already have? Apart from being a perfect creative activity for your free time, repurposing an old object into something new can minimise the need for continuing shopping. Why not make a worn out sewing machine into a side table, an old piano into a bench for your dining area, an old wardrobe into a country style pantry or a dresser into a kitchen island? The ideas are endless.
3. Vintage pieces
Vintage and second hand pieces are a great way to decorate your home with furniture that’s sustainable and also unique in their appearance. People are now looking for alternatives to mass production, preferring products that better reflect their personality and feel timeless. A great way to go is to mix and match the old and new in styling that feels authentic to you and won’t date.
4. Use natural materials
Natural materials are not only better for the environment, but they also promote a feeling of restfulness and relaxation, thanks to their natural colours and textures. As many brands have started switching to an eco-friendly production, it’s becoming easier to find sustainable alternatives to the items you’re looking for.
To make the interior of your home more sustainable, opt for organic materials, reclaimed woods and accessories made from recycled glass and metal. Sustainably produced vintage textiles and fabrics can be beautifully styled in a modern home, creating an original mix of styles.
Material wise, look out for such with renewable and biodegradable qualities. Cork is a perfect example which we’re increasingly seeing in home decoration. Great for insulating, while adding texture and warmth to a surface, cork can find a plethora of design opportunities in almost any home.
Bamboo is a perfect alternative for many types of projects. It can replace traditional lumber for flooring or in construction. This fast-growing, renewable plant is durable, water-resistant and anti-bacterial, too.
5. Incorporate Biophilic Design Principles
For those of us who stay at home during most of their day and are leading an urban lifestyle, connection to nature is key for good health. A calming environment with good natural lighting and surrounded by lots of plants will bring you closer to nature not only visually, but by using all of your senses. If the dimensions of your home allow for more experimentation, think about assembling a mini indoor garden.
If not, there are plenty of ways to achieve a biophilic design theme, whether that be through a plant-focused decor, nature-inspired colours and textures such as blues and greens, deep reds and earthy, grounding shades. Shape wise, consider organic, curvy forms that resemble the naturally occurring ones in nature. Decorate with nature-themed wallpapers or, best of all, physically bring plants inside.
6. Integrate Smart Technology
Smart technology is a growing field - many smart home features can be used to help you reduce energy consumption in your home. Integrating energy-efficient smart products in your home is a great way to cut down on electricity bills as they can reduce your heating and electricity needs. Devices like smart thermostats, smart light bulbs and switches can help you keep track of your energy and water usage in order to reduce it. While these can be pricey, they can save you a considerable amount of money each month.
Thinking of new appliances for your home? Whether you’re after a new fridge or a dishwasher, research for an eco-friendly alternative. Many appliances integrate smart features that run more efficiently. Other useful features can be a connection to a mobile application or keeping an inventory stock.
7. Try the Zero Waste lifestyle
Zero waste lifestyle can be very challenging, however, there are many simple tricks to adopt from it which will reduce your carbon footprint. Get creative with your used tins and containers and reimagine them into handmade planters. Grab seed or cuttings from your current plants and propagate more houseplants instead of rushing to the garden centre. Reuse what’s in your recycling, for example, repurpose your glass jars into storage jars. For some extra kitchen storage, grab parts of old furniture and turn them into shelves.