The green movement is trickling down into every facet of our daily lives. If we care about our planet and all the issues surrounding the depletion of natural resources, global warming and the environmental impact of non-sustainable products, then we can make new choices today that demands a sustainable and green environment, especially in our homes.
A new kind of interior designer is on the rise in response to these concerns. If you seek out a green interior designer, you can rest assured they will be mindful of finding eco-friendly products, materials and systems for your home. Yet this is more than just filling your home with “green” products. It affords you the opportunity to work closely with your designer to embrace a bigger picture of how the choices you make impact not only you and your home life, but the global issues that affect many people and the environment.
Green interior design requires new vision to see all the various ways in which we can upgrade virtually every room in the home to become more energy and environmentally friendly. To green our interior requires we look at alternative heating and cooling energy sources, lighting and appliance efficiency, water management, non-toxic finishes and paints for the floor and walls and sustainable furniture, flooring and building products. There is much to consider, and you might be wondering how and where to begin.
The first is to consider the overall energy efficiency of the home in regards to heating and cooling as well as electric. Is your home situated with a south facing roof on which you can install solar panels, either for creating solar thermal systems for heating or photovoltaic systems to generate electricity? Do you live in a windy climate where a home wind turbine could generate electricity? These are the big questions, and once these are considered and accomplished, you can turn your attention towards a green interior.
Steps Towards A Green Interior For Your Eco House
Tremendous amounts of energy can be lost through non-efficient windows. Good windows are needed to provide light, good ventilation and trap heat. With proper windows in place, you can focus on window treatments that not only serve your heating and cooling needs, but also fulfill sustainability by using eco- friendly materials such as linen for drapes or bamboo for shades.
Good environmental choices for flooring today include wood, concrete, bamboo, cork and even an eco- friendly linoleum. Manufacturers of these materials need to disclose the sustainability of their products. A sustainable material is one that in its creation does not contribute to natural resource depletion, and whose creation does not impact the environment in a negative manner during nor at the end of its useful lifetime. Be mindful of any floor finishes or sealants used are non-toxic.
Choose eco-friendly paint to color your walls. Many paint companies are now producing quality options for coloring your walls without health risks. Companies like BioShield pride themselves on healthy living paints. They produce a wonderful clay paint as well as non-toxic stains and thinners.
You can recycle your old appliances, and replace them with new energy efficient refrigerators, dishwashers and stoves. Kitchen appliances result in about 15% of a household’s electric consumption. New energy star appliances are designed to reduce consumption by as much as 75% less energy.
We spend one third of our life sleeping. It is important that our bedrooms provide a healthy environment for quality, restorative sleep. Many mattresses are chemical ridden so consider an organic, sustainable mattress as well as sheets, pillows and blankets. Choose area rugs made from natural fibers over wall to wall carpet that is known for chemical treatments. Air quality is most important in the bedroom.
The kitchen is about conserving electrical energy while the bathroom is about conserving water. Start with the toilet that accounts for almost 30% of home water consumption, and leaky toilets cost you money and waste water. Replace your old toilet with one that combines water efficiency and low flow. The same applies to both sink and shower faucets. A 10 minute shower can use 30-50 gallons of water. Water efficient sink and shower faucets are available on the market. Consider also a gray water recycling system for the bath which can reduce, recycle, reuse about 20 gallons of water a day.
Decor and Accessories
Lastly, make it an enjoyable adventure to find sustainable products to enhance your decor. Start locally. Explore home products being made by area artists and artisans. Rather than fill your home with mass produced products, take your time and seek out a handful of special, unique pieces which you know have been created with environmental mindfulness. Garages, attics, storage units, closets and landfills are filled with junk. Choose to become a conscious, discerning buyer. Less is more, and better for the planet.
For each one of these steps you take, you are closing the loop of your own home ecosystem. You are creating a sustainable home environment that supports nature’s own motto: reduce, recycle, reuse. Good job!