Happy Earth Day everyone! I think we all love our planet dearly, and this unique situation we are currently in has shown some amazing positive effects on the environment. This is a great reminder that our individual changes can and do make a difference. Let’s take this time to rethink and eliminate bad habits that are harming our beautiful planet, let’s approach things differently once we go back to our (new) normal lives.
I’ve always advocated for Eco-conscious choices where possible, I believe that these choices result in healthier, more productive and overall happier places to live and work in. I know that every little bit matters, so let’s start with awareness.
By paying attention to what materials you’re bringing into your space and understanding their implications you can take the first step to Eco-conscious living. A small change makes a huge difference.
It’s a no brainer, natural materials are the best for our homes and workplaces. However, I continue to see individuals purchasing items that are toxic. I once convinced a pregnant stranger buying a synthetic rug for her nursery not to, while standing at the till she was discussing her selection with her mom, and I couldn’t help but to interject and convince her to pick a less toxic option. She was extremely thankful!
Pick materials that have the least amount of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
VOCs easily become vapors or gases and tend to have compounding long-term health effects. They can be found in common household items and products such as furniture, carpet, paints, adhesives, paint thinners, solvents, wood preservatives , cleaners and disinfectants, air fresheners, aerosol sprays, caulks, and fabrics.
Find out what your flooring needs are look for materials that work for you. Bamboo is renewable and very environmentally friendly, also does not emit any gas like other wood flooring. Cork is a natural and useful material that has many applications. As always, reclaimed wood is a great choice. If it’s LVT (luxury vinyl tile) be aware that some vinyls are more toxic than others. Engineered flooring can be toxic too, depending on what its made of. European flooring standards seem to be more environmentally friendly, so that’s not a bad place to start looking, even to get your ideas started for Eco-friendly options.
RUGS/CARPET: When shopping for nontoxic rugs look for natural fibers like wool, jute, sisal, and organic cotton. Pay close attention to the backing and the underlay pads which are often cheaply produced with toxic materials. Natural latex, jute, and wool are great alternatives. Most hand knotted rugs made in Pakistan are from natural materials and dyes. Ask questions and pick the best possible option for your needs with the environment in mind as well.
PAINTS: Chalk paint is great for refinishing furniture. If you don’t want the matte, more casual look of chalk paint you can slap on a coat of varnish or (all natural) shellac to seal it.
- Milk Paint
- Benjamin Moore – Natural Paint
- Jim Connelly Studios – Painted Furniture
- EZ Strip – Green Paint Removal Products
ADHESIVES: Do your research when picking materials. When renovating, some choices are not totally natural but I still research to find the most effective option, like for a recent condo renovation I was doing a glue down engineered wood, so I made sure to select a glue which does not off-gas VOCs.
- Eco-Building – Sealant Adhesives
FURNITURE: Opt for furniture that is made formaldehyde-free wood and low VOC, water-based stains, finishes, and adhesives.
Wood naturally contains formaldehyde. Here are some sustainable furniture options but note, not all of the furniture companies listed are green. They are companies striving to be more sustainable : )
- Brothers Dressler – Toronto based, makes furniture with twin brother using re-purposed wood and recycled fabric where possible.
- Forever Interiors – For headboards, kitchen and coffee tables, made with reclaimed wood
- 5th Edition – Our very own collection of upcycled, antique, and refinished home accessories
- Of Things Past – Consignment luxury home furnishings and decor
- Antique markets – when the world reopens!