To be kind to the environment while redecorating your home, you should try wherever possible to reuse furniture that already exists. Repurposing furniture could be as simple as looking around your home, or you could go to a local flea market or antique store. Not only will you be helping the Earth, you’ll be saving money!
Along those lines, finding and buying furniture online saves time and money. Two excellent places to start are Freecycle (freecycle.org) and Craigslist. These sites have listings for everything from dining tables to china cabinets. Those found on Craigslist are usually for sale, although there is a “free” section. Furniture on Freecycle, as the site’s name implies, is completely free.
If you can’t find a piece that will work for you, though, the next best thing you can do is to buy furniture made with sustainable material. Here are some ways to tell if your furniture is environmentally friendly/sustainable:
- Look for a GreenGuard certification. This means that the furniture has been tested and found to be low-emissions (which means better air quality in your home). To find out more about the GreenGuard program, visit greenguard.org.
- For furniture that has been sustainably designed from the time it was created to the time it’s repurposed, look for an MBDC Cradle 2 Cradle tag. To learn more, go to mbdc.com/c2c.
- Forest Stewardship Council certification means that the product is made from sustainable wood. Trees are cut in a manner that minimizes environmental harm. For additional details, visit fscus.org.
To further reduce the impact on the environment, you should not only look for furniture made from sustainable growth, it should be eco-friendly as well. Materials to look for are bamboo, beechwood, cork, recycled wood, recycled plastic, fibers like jute, hemp and wool, and stainless steel.
When repurposing and refinishing a piece, skip the smelly paints and use an environmentally-aware paint or stain. The “new paint smell” comes from volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Look for paints and stains made with natural materials like citrus extracts, plant and earth pigments, milk protein, clay and lime. These paints are easy to work with, and you can control the consistency easily by adding water (which makes an excellent whitewash).
Redoing a room doesn’t mean harming the environment. By repurposing furniture and painting with eco-friendly paints wherever possible (and buying sustainable pieces when it’s not), you will save money and the environment at the same time.