Happy Earth Day! Things have been so busy lately that I didn't realize it was Earth Day already! As a product designer and decorator I am confronted with many decisions that impact how we use and buy "stuff" in our lives. The "stuff" can be furniture, accessories, or any kind of product that we use. I have always felt it is important to reduce. reuse. recycle. but going green doesn't mean committing to hemp and granola design for the rest of your life! There are many companies that offer eco friendly solutions to help lighten our environmental footprints. There are also many small actions you can take that make big impact in reducing energy use. To narrow down some options I posted a few of my favorites tips that are easy to incorporate into your life!Firstly, since this is a decorating blog let's talk about how to "reduce" the need to buy new things by "Using What You Have !" My decorating training emphasizes how to repurpose people's existing furniture and create a fresh look. Sometimes you already have the right pieces but just need a fresh set of eyes to see new decorating solutions!
Somewhat related to the above, if you have a room in your home redesigned and decide to upgrade your furnishings please (PRETTY PLEASE!) donate your gently used items. I can't believe how much good furniture goes into the garbage just because the fabric has gone out of style, the wood is worn, or the legs are loose. There are many people out there who could work magic on your unwanted items, so let's keep them out of the landfill. Remember - one person's trash is another person's treasure! If you are able to donate furniture or household items take a look around for local charities that could use your donation. Some of them even offer free pick up, here are my favorites: Habitat ReStore, Salvation Army, United War Veterans, Big Brother Big Sister.
Another suggestion is to harness the natural warming powers of the sun, and know the best ways to block it. If you have any windows that are south/ southeast facing you are in luck! You can use passive energy from the sun to your advantage. In the winter months use window treatments that you can pull back to let the sun in. If you can put any stone or concrete in the room it will help absorb the warmth during the day and release it into the evening.
Now in the summer the sun shifts to a higher position and doesn't extend as far into the room, but the temperatures are much warmer! So to help naturally climate control your rooms try using a solar shade that allows for a view but will reflect away some of the heat. Another thing homeowners can do for regular maintenance is to get your windows glazed. This technology regulates the amount of sun that passes through the glass and reglazing keeps the coating in good condition.
Onto more energy saving tips! How many people have a Nest thermometer? How many people have heard of the Nest thermometer? I hope you all have, but if not it is a well designed "smart" thermometer that learns your program habitats and makes energy efficient suggestions to help regulate the temperature. It has saved it's customers money on their energy bills - and you can control it from your smartphone when you are not home! Forgot to turn down the heat - no problemo. I recommend this and can't wait to get my hands on one myself.
Another commonly suggested energy saving tip is to change out your light bulbs with more energy efficient ones. I've switched a few myself and have found most luck with the new LED lights. They come in different tones (bright, daylight, soft) and they really do last a long time so it makes the dollar go farther. I've also tried CFLs (compact florescents that are swirly) and while those are certainly better than the regular incandescent, you have to be cautious of the mercury within and recycle them properly when they do burn out.
And lastly, buy sustainable products! If we only bring high quality products into the market and our homes its impacts will be large. This is where things can get confusing too but basically you want to consider the lifecycle of the product including: how it's made, where it's made, the materials, quality, how long you'll use it, and if it can be recycled in some capacity at the end of it's life.
I hope this post explains redesign as a sustainable decorating option, and that you find some of the product recommendations helpful!