World Environment Day is celebrated on June 5th across a hundred countries, and on this day we try to encourage worldwide awareness and action for the protection of the environment. Interior designers, too, are doing their part in green design; following a gentle approach to décor that minimizes our carbon footprint. Designers who echo this sentiment make a conscious decision to choose only eco-friendly materials and processes in their projects. Building a green home is a choice that safeguards the air, water and earth and keeps an eye on sustainable living.
At HomeLane, we do all we can to promote ‘green’ interiors. From using organic fabrics to opting for nontoxic paints, here are some of the ways you can choose to go green!
1. Recycling Made Beautifully
Many people do not know that the growth lifecycle of the cotton plant uses copious amounts of water; right from the farming stage to the manufacturing process. In fact, it has been estimated that the lifecycle of production of 1 kg of cotton fabric, which could be one pair of jeans and a T-shirt, uses up 20,000 litres of water. That’s a staggering amount, considering the world is already facing an acute shortage of drinking water supplies!
Think about that the next time you throw away a pair of jeans. Better still, why don’t you join the league of creative designers who upcycle jeans or other cotton fabric to make cushion covers, upholstery or quilts? This sofa cover is a work of art and uses fabric from old clothes, sewn together by hand.
2. Creative Upcycling
Wooden pallets that are used to make vegetable and fruit crates often end up in landfills, due to thoughtless handling. Recycling or upcycling these wooden pallets can save millions of trees every year, which will have a huge positive impact on the environment. Saving trees benefit the environment immensely, as trees increase oxygen levels in the atmosphere and help to keep the water cycle stable.
Are you convinced? Instead of sending back those old crates, stand them on their side and use them as innovative storage units. Just a little bit of sanding, cleaning up and a rough coat of paint or clear varnish can give them a whole new look! A cable reel (also called a cable drum) can be upcycled for use as a table.
3. Use Sustainable Fabrics
When you think of sustainable fabrics, you should also consider the entire process of production of the material. Artificial fibres like rayon and other polymers are made of toxic chemicals and it’s best not to use these in your home décor at all, as the constant exposure to these toxins could have an adverse effect on the health of your family.
Instead, consider using fabrics like Organic Cotton (grown without the use of pesticides) that is sustainably produced, Jute, Linen, Hemp fabric, and so on. All these are environmentally friendly and manufactured without harming the earth or depleting natural resources.
4. Opt for MDF, Not Wood
MDF, or Medium Density Fibreboard, is made of wood fibers that are bonded by heat, pressure, and resin binders. Wood waste can be used to make up the wood fibers and this helps to save on cutting down of trees. MDF can be used as the core material for modular cabinets, wardrobes, and almost all kinds of furniture as it is strong and durable, and very easy to work with.
However, a word of caution. Always opt for MDF that has lower levels of formaldehyde or chemicals in the resin used as binders, as these could be toxic in the long run. However, when you balance the pros of not cutting trees for wood, against the cons of the effect of these chemical binders in the MDF board, the overall effect scores higher on the sustainability index!
5. Use Energy Saving Products
When you’re doing up your new home, it pays to be thoughtful in planning the energy efficiency of your spaces. Opt for solar energy wherever possible, for both lighting and heating functions, and use the electricity from the public grid only as a backup. Your utility bills will be halved straight away, and you are reducing your carbon consumption in the process. Swap out all your bulbs with LEDs or CFL lamps and you will find that your bills are further reduced.
Water is a precious resource that we must use wisely. Install a water-saving aerator on your faucets and you can save 50 to 80 percent of your water consumption. Also, consider using recycled water for watering your plants, and set up a rainwater harvesting system in your home.
This home uses LED strip lighting in the kitchen to cast a glow on the worktop. LED lights use a fraction of the energy of regular lamps, even as they add a lovely aesthetic to your decor.
6. Green Up Your Home
Adding green indoor plants to your home comes with a whole lot of environmental benefits. Plants detoxify the air and make it fresh and oxygenated. Formaldehyde, xylene, carbon monoxide, benzene and ammonia, are among many other pollutants that are removed by green plants such as palms and ferns in your home. Plants also help to keep the balance of humidity in the indoor air-stable and at a healthy level. Besides which, they look good!
There’s no such thing as a home with too many plants, so do go ahead and pick up large and small potted plants, creepers and succulents. Make sure that they get the care they deserve to keep them fresh and healthy. You can even grow herbs in your kitchen window and use them in your cooking.
7. Choose Non-Toxic Paints
Often, we do not realise that the paint we use on walls contains VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds that can slowly leach out into the air, impacting the health of our family and pets. People who are very sensitive to these chemicals can get symptoms like headaches, dizziness, visual and respiratory impairment, even without realising that the walls are the real culprit causing these adverse health effects.
Environmentally friendly paints are available in a wide variety of colours and finishes. They may come with a higher price tag, but the extra cost is a small price to pay when you consider your family’s health!
This year, let’s do all we can to promote sustainability and green living, starting from our homes! Let’s join hands in celebrating creation, practise good green habits and passing on these values to the next generation as well. On World Environment Day, here’s to healthy and sustainable new beginnings!
Reach out to our experts at HomeLane to help you build a ‘green home’.