There’s a lot of talk these days in the design world about green design or sustainable design. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. No guilt trip here, just some great information. Here are some ideas to start small and see how it feels.
1. Buy Green Paint.
You’ve heard me say it before, but choose paints that are low VOCs. Volatile organic compounds are air pollutants that are dangerous to your health and to the health of the crafts people who use them. Try latex based paints and avoid oil-based when you can.
2. Replace a Few Light Bulbs.
Try those whacky looking compact fluorescent bulbs. Great places to start are all your exterior lights and hallway lights. I don’t especially like them for reading or in bathrooms though — don’t like their light quality –so stick to pass through spaces, basements, exterior space.
3. Clean Green
Contrary to what you see on television, use orange oil. Never use Pledge or other spray on supermarket brands. They actually dry out your wood. Priya Giri Desai writes in the Boston Globe, Is It Worth It? “Anything you use to clean floors or counter tops can also be inhaled and ingested according.” Baking soda and water can be used for many cleaning projects as can simple vinegar and water.
4. Watch your flow.
Pick up a faucet aerator for less than $10 at most hardware store. Installed in minutes; it reduces the amount of water used without affecting pressure and can save about 2 gallons per minute. You won’t even know you have it. Now that’s what I call invisible interior design.
5. Add Something Green.
Indoor plants are a great way to fill space and are beautiful. Indoor plants improve indoor air quality. Try bamboo palm, Chinese evergreen, English ivy, Gerber daisy, chrysanthemum, and peace lily for their air cleaning abilities.
6. Buy Recycled.
Whether it’s napkins or new place mats. You can also buy used furniture and have items re-upholstered. That saves items from landfills.
7. Reuse What You’ve Got.
Simply rearranging furniture or swapping furniture between rooms can breathe new life into existing pieces. Consider reupholstering tired, but otherwise good pieces saves them from landfills.
8. Buy Quality.
In his article, Mark Gajewski notes: “As John Keats said so well ‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever”— and that also means to me that we keep beautiful things we treasure much longer that the things that are available in stores like “Costco” whose motto seems to be “Junk — In Bulk,” most of them cheap, ill-conceived throw-away items.’ So buy what you love. And buy quality. This saves space in landfills.
9. When in Doubt, Go Natural.
For flooring, stick to natural products which typically — but not always — are kinder to the environment. Try sisal or wool over nylon rugs. If you are a lover of vinyl flooring, try true linoleum, made from sawdust and linseed oil.