As part of our new sustainability series we’ve been looking at some simple ways that you can improve the sustainability of your interior. From choosing eco-conscious designs and materials to lowering water wastage, we’ve got some ideas to help kick start a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
1. The importance of quality
Longevity is key. When designing a new interior, or even refreshing or updating an existing one, choosing quality pieces that will last for years to come is very important.
With ‘fast furniture’ becoming ever present on the high street and online markets, it’s easy to succumb to purchasing trend-led pieces with an attractive low price point. However, fast furniture tends to be of a much lower quality due to it's cheap materials and mas-produced nature, rendering it more susceptible to breaking. As a result, more homewares are ending up in landfills as waste... it's a vicious cycle!
Making considered purchases of quality, timeless pieces that you’ll love for years to come is the most sensible way to sustainably invest in your home. Choosing well made designs that have been manufactured from consciously sourced, sustainable materials - such as FSC rated wood - will help reduce the demand for wood from areas of deforestation that is having a disastrous impact on our planet.
There are countless examples of more sustainable materials that can be used in interior design projects including wood, sustainable leather (a bi-product of the meat industry), recycled materials, linens, wool, ceramics and concrete. Bamboo has been identified as a highly-renewable and natural material for use in flooring and wall panelling. Hemp fabric uses half the amount of water as cotton to produce, with no pesticides and is far stronger. Recycled glass can be fashioned into a colourful, stain-resistant, low-maintenance counter top that is also completely unique and eco-friendly.
Opting to use natural materials in your home not only has health benefits (read more about biophilia here) but is also better for the environment. Synthetic materials not only use more energy to produce, but have damaging effects on the natural world and often need to be imported from different continents – hence, creating a lot of air miles and producing a lot of unnecessary carbon.
Many larger homeware brands are finally starting to do their bit by using 'recycled material' content in their products (read up on H&M's new conscious range) but there’s still a long way to go to reduce our carbon footprint in the industry.
Aside from how we decorate our interiors it’s also important to consider how we use them, and what routines we carry out within their walls. There are many small things we can all do on a daily basis that, collectively, will make a significant difference to our carbon footprint.
Turning off lights, switching to LED bulbs, unplugging electrical appliances or using them on ‘eco mode’ and maintaining equipment rather than replacing it, are all easy ways to cut down on energy use (and bills!). Likewise, you can save money and help the environment by watching your water usage. Fixing leaks, taking shorter showers and using water-conserving products are great places to start.
Another way to be more eco-friendly is to ensure your home is well insulated. Good insulation will mean that the power you use to generate heat in your home won't escape through drafty roofs, walls or windows and, in the long run, will actually reduce your energy bills and overall consumption.
If you’re thinking about turning your interior into a sustainable paradise, why not start with a good clear out? Whilst resisting consumerist urges is a good way to be more sustainable from the get-go it's not always a perfect reality...we're all guilty of purchasing 'bits and bobs', that chances are, have been manufactured using unsustainable methods and transported thousands of miles.
Removing excess clutter from your space and creating a sleek minimal interior will make you less likely to make impulse purchases, as you'll want to maintain your paired-back styling.
Remember - if you are having a clear out, have a look at what can be re-fashioned, reused or recycled. Your old chest of drawers could become someone else’s favourite new piece of furniture! Donating unwanted goods to charity shops or attending a car boot sale are good ways to ensure your homewares find a new home instead of making their way to landfill.
Biophilia (using plants as part of interior design) is something we are very fond of here at Tom Raffield. Growing plants in your home brings a whole range of health benefits, including better air quality and improving your mood. Filling your home (or office) with plants also helps to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as they turn CO2 into oxygen as they photosynthesise.
As well as the benefits to health and environment, we think plants simply look great! Forget purchasing the new vase you've been lusting after... fill empty spaces in you home with luscious green foliage and enjoy propagating them to expand your collection.