I recently had a down moment and so naturally I wound up on the gram. A beautiful image stopped the scroll for me and I read the caption. It was about how helium is a limited resource that is quickly being depleted. The person who wrote the post was more upset about the fact that her kid wasn’t going to be able to have helium balloons in the future, than about the impacts of depleting limited resources. Talk about priorities.
Anyway, it got me thinking about the rapid climate changes that are occurring and how I can make a smaller carbon footprint. There are changes that my family has adopted to be more eco-conscious, but I started to wonder how I could adopt some of the same practices for my business. As people become more aware and more responsible, eco-conscious living is becoming the norm (as it should be). There are so many choices that consumers and designers can make to engage in sustainable interior design practices.
Eco-conscious innovations are alive and well. At this point, sustainable interior design should be an essential part of the design process. The needs of our planet should take priority over what looks nice. Just telling it how it is. To be frank, it’s just not responsible to not engage in sustainable interior design practices.
Outside of the ideation process, selecting materials to bring your vision to life is a pretty damn significant aspect of designing your home. Before you start the materials selection, it is best to get into the mindset of why sustainable interior design matters. As a woman who loves to shop, materials selection can be FUN! It is so easy to slip into the mindset of “Ooooh! That looks good!” instead of “Ooooh! That looks good and is it eco-conscious?!”
Thankfully, there are so many resources to tap into to determine if a material is sustainable and responsible or not. One of my favorites is the Ecolabel Index. Ecolabel Index is like an encyclopedia of various labels for building materials. With each label, there is a little blurb in terms of requirements that need to be met for a company to qualify for the label. Once you familiarize yourself with the environmental certifications, you can use it as a guide for what aligns with your values when you’re sourcing materials.
Consider Energy Consumption
Energy consumption is a major factor in climate change. Seeing that our homes function with the use of energy, this is another opportunity for us to choose to be responsibly eco-conscious. Opt for materials that reduce the need for feat, lighting, and appliance functions.
Choosing your window treatments is a big component of energy usage in your home. The deal with windows is that if they are of high-quality, they can help to retain heat in your space in the winter and maintain a cool environment in the summer. UV films are also great for helping to accomplish this. Not only will it have an impact on the temperature and need for appliances in your space, but it also will shield you all from harmful rays of the sun. Window treatments can also have a profound effect on the temp of a home. Having heavy drapes, or even roman shades with a blackout lining can also help to retain heat in a space – reducing the need to use a heater as often.
Windows aren’t the only factors in managing energy consumption in a home. In addition, there are choices that we can make to reduce water usage as well. There are so many great options for water-saving toilets, low-flow faucets, and showerheads. Traditional showerheads use about 11 gallons of water per minute, whereas low-flow showerheads use about 2.5 gallons per minute. Selecting low-flow appliances can reduce water usage by 30%. This even goes for outdoor gardening. Soaker hoses have a slow drip that reaches plant roots more efficiently. The slow-drip reduces run-off and evaporation and can cut outdoor water usage by 50%.
Carefully choosing lighting can be a factor too, as most of us are aware of energy-saving light bulbs.
Design for Longevity
Design trends change all too often. Like all the freaking time. With that, big-box manufacturers produce for the trend, not necessarily for the longevity of the product. As an eco-conscious buyer, it’s a good practice to choose materials and items that not only can withstand time but can be recycled or reclaimed in the event that the product goes out of trend. This is especially important when choosing pieces that are made from materials that are not easily renewable.
Sustainable Interior Design is not just about renewable resources, but ultimately responsible practices. Look to support companies that have socially-just business practices. What does this even mean??? Socially-just business practices have many facets, one of which is safe manufacturing practices. In regions where the labor laws aren’t as comprehensive as the U.S., vote with your dollar to support companies that have socially-just practices. Some of these practices include fair-trade partnerships and safe manufacturing of materials.
In an effort to do our part for our world, creating a smaller carbon footprint is key. Sustainable interior design doesn’t mean that the choices that we make aren’t aesthetically pleasing. It just means that we are making a conscious commitment to making choices that transcend just what looks good. High-five to you!