After documentaries like David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II showed the shocking effect on the planet, you may be considering eco-friendly interiors as a way to alter your lifestyle.
Cheap, throwaway furniture usually has a short lifespan and, once it breaks, it often gets sent to landfill or burned — both of which release harmful chemicals and gases into the atmosphere as it breaks down.
But things aren’t all bad. By making a few eco-conscious choices, you can adapt your interior design and help to save the planet.
Matt Deighton, Managing Director at British sofa manufacturer Sofas by Saxon, shares his top ten ways you can make your interior décor more environmentally friendly.
opt for slow interiors
We all know that fast fashion is damaging our environment, but did you know that fast interiors are just as bad?
These pieces are made cheaply using low quality materials, which means they break quickly and need to be disposed of. This results in huge amounts being disposed of unsustainably — around 22 million items of furniture were sent to landfill last year alone.
To combat this throwaway culture, try to make the switch to slow interiors instead. This type of décor incorporates pieces that are made with high-quality materials and expert craftmanship, so they’re built to last.
Slow interiors are especially important in high traffic areas, like living rooms and kitchens, where your furniture will need to withstand a lot of use.
Look for Durable Materials
Opting for eco-friendly interiors can often mean thinking about the durability of the product. Choose pieces made from more durable materials, like leather and wood, which can last a long time. Plus, these materials usually look better with age, so you’re less likely to throw them away when they start to show signs of wear and tear.
You should also try to avoid impulse buys and take time to consider which pieces and styles of furniture you’d like to incorporate into your interior design. This way, you’re less likely to get bored of your furnishings, and they’ll last a lot longer.
Buy British made
Another way you can go more eco-friendly is by choosing British-made furniture rather than pieces transported from abroad.
Not only will this cut down on fossil fuels (because your furniture has a smaller distance to travel), but pieces made overseas can have less stringent guidelines regarding their materials and manufacturing processes.
Go for Quality
When you buy your furniture from the UK, try to deal directly with the manufacturer where possible, as this allow you the opportunity to visit their premises and analyse the quality of their pieces.
Some furniture manufacturers will welcome customers to their factory, where you can see their expert craftmanship and quality materials first-hand.
You can also check online reviews to make sure that their products are built to last, as well as check their authenticity. So, you can have greater confidence knowing that the piece you’re buying is made to a high quality.
Opt for eco-friendly materials
When shopping for your furnishings, you should also check what materials they’re made from, as some can be more environmentally friendly than others.
Try to avoid synthetic materials, as the processes that go into making them can release some harmful chemicals and gases into the environment.
Instead, opt for natural, sustainable materials, like wood which comes from British forests.
This can be used in anything from tables and wardrobes to sofas and flooring. Just check that it has a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification logo to make sure that it’s been sustainably sourced.
Use Natural Materials for Your Soft Furnishings
For soft furnishings, like cushions and blankets, look for natural materials, such as bamboo, linen or cotton. And, if you can, try to go for organic versions.
These are more sustainable than synthetic materials — and even some natural ones — as they don’t use any chemicals, like pesticides, in their growing process.
Consider Recycled Materials
Of course, a great way to feature eco friendly interiors is to opt for recycled materials, like reclaimed wood or even pieces made from recycled paper or cardboard.
The great thing about these furnishings is that, once you’re finished with them, they can always be recycled again into something completely new.
Reuse old furniture
When your furniture starts to show signs of wear, why not upcycle it instead of throwing it away? A lick of paint or some new upholstery can quickly transform any old furniture into a chic and unique piece.
Convert old garden furniture into a swing or turn old ladders into a stylish place to store towels and linens. There’s no limit to what you can make from your old pieces, so you can really let your imagination go wild.
Shop for Antique Finds
Another way you can reuse old furniture and cut down on your waste is by shopping for antique finds. These pieces really can withstand the test of time and buying pre-loved items is a great way to find those high-quality, one-of-a-kind pieces.
Just take a look around your local antique store, charity shop or even a car boot sale.
It’s also worth keeping an eye out on social media, as people in your area often advertise their old furniture for a low price.
Add plants and natural decor
Of course, your interior décor isn’t all about your furnishings, it’s about your accessories, too. Plants can really give your home that natural vibe and, if you pick the right ones, you can even improve the air quality in your home.
Air purifying houseplants like peace lilies, English ivy and snake plants not only look great, but they’ve also been found to remove significant amounts of benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde from the air — all of which are chemicals found in household cleaning products.
Aloe vera is also a great plant to have around. Their leaves contain a soothing gel, which acts as a natural ointment for cuts, burns and dry skin — all without the plastic packaging usually found in cosmetic products.
Eco Friendly Interiors: In Summary
Britain is consumed by a throwaway culture, and those cheaply made pieces are causing a lot of harm to our environment.
But, by investing in British-made furniture, eco-friendly materials, recycled and antique pieces, and adding a few houseplants around your home, you can reduce your waste and make your interiors more environmentally friendly.