Is Your Furniture Eco-Friendly?

Have you ever stopped to consider just how much impact your furnishing may have on the environment? Probably not. Most people don’t put too much thought into the green factor when they purchase home décor; they’re more concerned with the comfort, quality, and cost of the pieces that they’re going to use day in and day out. And yet, you’ll be surprised at how many options there are for the eco-friendly fashionista looking to create a stylish home with green furnishings. Here are just a few ways that you can cut your carbon footprint when it comes to decorating your home, creating spaces that are comfortable, functional, and healthy for your family and the Earth.

1. Reclaimed furniture. If it doesn’t come home with you, it may be on its way to the landfill, so give it some thought before you write-off second-hand. Many pieces will be refurbished, but even if they aren’t, there are many ways to make a piece work for you. Kitchen tables can be sanded and refinished, couches and chairs can be reupholstered, and bedroom sets can be painted to give your space a fresh new look that will cost you a lot less than new and significantly reduce the impact of your purchase.

2. Recycled materials. Many furnishings these days are being made with recycled materials such as wood, plastic, and glass (just to name a few). Chairs, tables, and even lamps that are 100% recycled can grace your home and add a little pizzazz to a room with their innovative design. Coffee tables are a good place to start, and you can find options created from airplane wings, skateboards, CDs, computer parts, bicycle tires, and even dishwasher drums. These make for a great, green conversation piece. But you can also find items that look completely normal, so that no one would even know they’re composed of recycled materials.

3. Bamboo. More than other types of wood, bamboo provides an eminently eco-friendly option for furniture, flooring, and housewares. It is fast-growing (it takes 3-5 years to reach full height), unlike hardwoods that can take upwards of 30 years to regrow. But bamboo is sustainable in another way; it is also a drought-resistant plant, so it needs a lot less water to flourish. Plus, it is gorgeous.

4. Concrete. Admittedly, there are not a lot of furnishings you’d want to make with concrete, no matter how eco-friendly the material is. But it’s great for benches (especially outdoors) and even chairs, and it could also be used as a tabletop surface or for shelving. Remember those makeshift cinderblock shelves you used in college? The modern version made from molded, polished, colored concrete is way more stylish. And you might be surprised by the many interesting, beautiful, and functional pieces you can find for use in your home.

5. Organic fabric and filling. The greenest option when it comes to furniture is to keep what you already have. But you can easily change the look of many furnishings by reupholstering or simply creating slipcovers. If you choose this option, make sure to use eco-friendly organic fabrics and fillers that reduce the amount of chemicals seeping into the ground, water, and air.