Top tips for eco-friendly and sustainable style for your home

Who says you can’t decorate your home and be eco-friendly at the same time? Nowadays, there are several ways to spruce up your home in a sustainable, yet chic way. You don’t even have to search everywhere to find a variety of good options, as more and more businesses are creating environmentally conscious products.

espresso coffee tableHow can you tell if a product is eco-friendly? Other than those that are tagged or certified as such, it’s important to know which materials are better options… just like checking a food’s ingredient list to know if it’s healthy for you. A few eco-friendly materials are bamboo, hemp, plastics made from plant cellulose, and anything made with a large portion of recycled or repurposed materials. Companies are aware that consumers want to have more sustainable options to choose from, so it’s in their best interest to create eco-friendly lines…and many companies do! Not to say you should simply trust a tag without evaluating what any given product is made with; instead, use it as a guide.

bliss bedside tablesOne of the most challenging materials to feel confident trusting is wood.  With so much illegal and unsustainable logging occurring around the globe, it’s important to buy furniture and other products that commit to using sustainably sourced wood. The following types of wood are typically grown in a more responsible and sustainable fashion, though not in every part of the world: bamboo, beech, ash, pine, or oak. Try to avoid “old growth” (more endangered) and threatened types of wood such as mahogany, teak, and merbau. Bamboo is often toted as the most sustainable option, because it grows quickly, has a high yield, is incredibly durable, and can be used for several purposes.

Other than wood, try to avoid purchasing items made of plastic. Luckily, you can often find types of plastic products made from plant cellulose! Not only do they look and feel just like conventional products, but they decompose faster in landfills.

Products made from recycled materials are also ways to avoid sending useful materials directly in the trash. They’re also usually quite interesting or thought provoking, like handbags made from old car seatbelts, wallets made from plastic bottles, or model airplanes made from soda cans. Check out your local fair-trade store- they often have neat products made all across the world from recycled materials.

redecorate eco friendly

A fun way to redecorate your house is to shop in thrift stores or go antiquing. Not only can you often find one-of-a-kind items, but you’ll breathe new life into something that would otherwise be left unused.  It might be faster to run into your local department store to buy a new rug or dresser, but handpicking a vintage piece is way more fun and rewarding. Each item has its own story and preservation of history. They are often made of better materials too, making them more durable and long lasting. It’s fun and gratifying to reuse materials in creative ways. Try using old bottles for vases, old tins for toys or crayons, vintage fabric for making beautiful curtains or hand towels, or old picture frames for family portraits.

Nothing adds a more calming and rejuvenating feel to your home than indoor plants. No matter how much care you’re interested in providing, there are several types of houseplants that will enhance your indoor space. Having more greenery in your home can increase your family’s appreciation of nature. After all, it’s not just about buying “green” products that will make you eco-friendly, but having a sense of respect and appreciation for the environment as well. If you buy sustainable products, practise energy saving tips and use friendly cleaning products then you are definitely on your way to creating an friendly household!

Tips for energy saving in your home

With energy prices on the rise, it’s no surprise that most people are looking for ways to use less energy and reduce their utility bills.  The benefit of choosing to live more sustainably not only saves you money, but also reduces your environmental impact. Our ever-growing usage of energy is inherently illusory: the Earth simply can’t support it forever. It’s no lie that we are extremely accustomed to a standard of living that requires a good deal of energy to maintain. The good news is: you don’t have to make huge changes to your daily life to be more sustainable… you just have to be more conscious of it and make it a greater priority. Doing so will reduce your carbon footprint, save you money, and help society evolve into responsible energy users.

For a lot of people, the biggest hurdle is stomaching the notion that by retrofitting your house with energy saving methods now, you will save money in the long term. Whether you can afford to make small changes or comprehensive modifications to your home, there are options for every budget:

Energy efficient lighting

  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFLs) or LED lights. Both varieties use less energy and last way longer than your average incandescent. Though they are more expensive to purchase (but getting cheaper), CFLs can last up to 10 years, LEDs up to 23 years!
  • Replace your light switches with dimmers. You can then use less light and less energy…. Not to mention how relaxing it is to have dimmer lights at nighttime.
  • Use automatic sensors to trigger lights to come on when you enter a room, and off when you leave.
  • Find some chic lighting fixtures for floor lamps and a range of fixtures for pendant lights that will accommodate your new sustainable light bulbs!

Energy efficient lighting

Automatic on & off timers

  • If you have electronics that you utilize at specific times of day, or those that you consistently forget to unplug, automatic timers will do the job for you.

Using appliances during non-peak hours

  • Most people tend to use the most energy at the same time, in the early evening.
  • Several utility providers offer rebates for using more energy during off-peak hours (i.e. doing your laundry or using the dishwasher in the afternoon or at night time).

 Mimic your grandparents: do more by hand and use common sense!

  • If washing your laundry by hand is out of the question (can’t blame you, but use cold water!), attempt to air-dry your clothing rather than using the dryer. Though clotheslines are great for quickly drying clothes outdoors in warmer months, standing drying racks can be used year round!
  • Same goes for the dishes. Wash your dishes using eco-friendly products and use a towel to dry them! It can be wonderfully relaxing.
  • Keep doors to unoccupied rooms closed, reducing what you need to heat/cool.
  • Wear warm layers before turning the heat up.
  • Be conscious of when to leave blinds/curtains open- warm your house directly from the sun!
  • Avoid running the AC on cool nights or breezy days by keeping your windows open. 

Grandma washing clothes

Develop stricter energy rules:

  • Make it known that irresponsible energy usage is not acceptable in your home! Though it’s hard to change habits, try using post-its to encourage turning the lights off or unplugging electronics that are not in use.
  • Remember…behavior change takes time; do your best to set a good precedence.

 Renewable Energy

  • Companies all over the country provide renewable energy alternatives. Find out who is in your region and make the switch! The more people that switch to renewable energy, the more competitively priced it will become (though it’s typically not much more expensive than providers supplying conventional energy).

 Get an energy audit

  • Most utility companies also offer free energy audits- a home visit from a company representative who will evaluate your house and inform you how to reduce your energy bill.

Retrofit your house

  • If you have the financial means to do so, you can make several structural changes to your home to reduce your energy usage.
  • These changes include: adding better insulation (keeping your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter), patch up drafty spots, replace windows with better insulating double-paned windows.

Replace appliances w/ Energy Star appliances

  • Most new appliances are regulated to abide by higher energy efficiency standards, known as “energy stars”. Replacing your appliances with these appliances will use less energy and save you money.

Though it might seem like a costly or time-consuming endeavor to make all of these modifications, pick the ones that seem most realistic to focus on now, and create a plan to accomplish the rest. After all, most of these changes are less about what you will save in the short-term, and more about what you will save in the long-term.

Decorating your Kids Bedroom with Eco-friendly Style

Children pick a lot of things more than we usually know or acknowledge. This is because kids learn a lot through observation. Because of this children learn more from people they spend most time with and it is parents that they spend more time with during their formative age. Parents are therefore the kid’s first and best teachers. It’s then important for you to recognize that every time you spend with your kid is a learning process for that kid.

Your actions around your kid are lessons that he/she quickly picks and this starts right from birth. You should therefore strive to be a good role model because the character that your kid picks from you at that early age will shape that kid adult life. You should strive to lay a good and strong foundation for your kid’s future.

When therefore you set to decorate your kids’ room with an eco-friendly style it’s important that you involve them in the process so that they learn from it. The way you make your eco-friendly choices gives them important lessons in living an eco-friendly life. Decorating your kids’ bedroom is also significant because the environment in the bedroom has a huge impact on the quality and quantity of sleep they will have.

eco friendly kids room

Eco-Friendly Home Decorating

Your decoration cannot start until you have been able to source and buy eco-friendly items needed for the exercise.

  • First look for eco-friendly wall art. An easy way to find eco-friendly wall art is by searching for items made from bamboo. Wall clocks are a quick and easy option and you can find an extensive range of wall clocks at this online store: http://www.purelywallclocks.com.au
  • The most important item in the bedroom is the bed itself. This is why the next attention after sourcing for wall art is the bed. Sprucing up the bed with bright cushions would have a huge impact on the look of your kid’s bed and will give them enough comfort and sleep. There are several eco-friendly inserts that you can use such as corn fibre and pet fibre. To see a wide range of cushions online check out this store: http://www.simplycushions.com.au
  • For tips on adding eco-friendly lighting, check out this post.

Once you’ve done away with sourcing of wall art, and spruced up the bed, the style you’re setting for your kids’ sleep sanctuary would have started taking shape. Now is the time to roll up sleeves and get down to decorating. Bathe the walls with colors that create harmony and balance in your kids’ room. Start with the basics such as deciding on the color theme and palette, and the pattern.

Eco-friendly paint

This is because eco-friendly paints have several advantages and benefits. Unlike the traditional paints that use a lot of chemical components leading to several ill effects such as burning eyes, nose and throat, skin irritation, minor skin burns, headaches and dizziness; and sometimes severe cases such as migraine, skin cancer, kidney damage and asthma, eco-friendly paints do not put you and your kids at such a risk because eco-friendly paints are mostly water based.

Traditional paints also contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which are emitted when used to paint walls. Chemical waste left behind by VOCs is also non biodegradable and cannot be recycled; meaning VOCs leave behind harmful footprints. Studies have shown that people who’re continually exposed to VOCs are prone to lung cancer. Components in eco-friendly paints on the other hand, are natural and biodegradable.

You may however, find eco-friendly paints more costly than chemical based paints. But there is nothing costly when it comes to the health of your kids. It’s even more crucial when it’s your kids’ bedroom you’d be painting and decorating.

And finally, a thought about style…

Also ensure that the décor reflects the taste and personality that you would want your children to have. This is the place they retire too in the evening and wake up in the morning. The taste and personality in the bedroom will have a strong impact on their’ tastes and personalities as well.

All kids love drawing. You would therefore raise their excitement by keeping one wall in the room where you can make them experiment with drawing using eco-friendly chalk-board paint. Make sure that you guide them to hone in their taste, style and desires in the chalk-board décor.

At the end of the day you will find decorating your kids’ room an exciting exercise and a good learning process for your children.

 

blackboard paint in bedroom

Our recycled home bar project

record playerMy husband loves listening to old rock music, and has been collecting vinyl records since we were teenagers. For his last birthday, I went to http://www.rockitrecordplayers.com.au and bought him a brand new record player… which he loves! While we were sitting around listening to the Rolling Stones, we began talking about how nice it would be to invite our friends over…have some cocktails and flip a few records. We have a few bars and pubs that we frequent, but we’ve always dreamed of having a nice place to entertain at home. I could hardly remember the last time we had people over!

With the decision set to design our own bar, we didn’t want it to look like anyone else’s, or anything conventional…we wanted one with a beautiful, aged look.  That’s how we decided to use reclaimed wood to construct our new home bar. Not only would it be more durable, of higher quality, and more sustainable than brand new wood- it would be a work of art. I couldn’t wait to start working on it.

Building with reclaimed wood isn’t a novel idea; there’s plenty of literature out there to assist with the process. Most importantly… the wood! An antique store referred us to someone selling pieces of wood from an old barn that had been recently torn down. When it arrived, it was so beautiful that I could hardly believe my eyes! A local carpenter helped us piece it together and finish the project. What would a bar be without bar stools? I found a beautiful set here: http://www.bohobarstools.com.au

reclaimed wood bar stools

It feels great to have a new and inviting space in my home to entertain guests. Everyone loves the look of our bar; in fact, most of my friends can’t stop complimenting it! Though it took a bit more effort to find good quality materials, choosing to use reclaimed wood is truly the sustainable choice. And we intend to use eco-friendly cleaning products to keep it sparkling!. With kids in the house, it’s a wonderful way to educate them about how we make decisions that preserve our environment, especially the rainforests.

 

How to make your own eco-friendly cleaning products

green household There’s no better way to have a clean and healthy home than by making your own eco-friendly cleaning products. Most popular sprays, wipes, laundry detergents, and other cleaners are chock full of dangerous chemicals, which can cause adverse health effects for your family.

A lot of large corporations who produce household cleaners often use chemicals that are untested or unregulated. That means that there’s no guarantee that what’s in these products has been thoroughly evaluated for potential dangers.  Making your own all-natural recipes will give you the peace of mind that your home is clean and that your family’s health is safe from toxic ingredients. In addition, you will have less of a negative environmental impact on your community, as toxic cleaning products inevitably wind up in our waters.

Did I mention that you’ll save money too? The best part of making your own eco-friendly cleaners is that you can often use a few simple and affordable ingredients for several different recipes (many of which you probably already have!). These are ingredients that we are all familiar with: baking soda, vinegar, lemon, olive oil, hydrogen peroxide, water, etc.
Cleaning a green globe
One might say, “but what about mold, or messes that are truly so disgusting that only bleach could do the job?” – I hear you. Sometimes it feels like certain situations necessitate the use of strong chemicals to get the job done; however, it’s simply not necessary, once you discover alternative all-natural methods that truly work!

  • Vinegar: used for its natural and powerful disinfecting and deodorizing properties, as well as its quickly dissipating scent.
  • Baking soda: also a natural deodorizer (that’s why people often pop one in the refrigerator), but abrasive enough to clear away grime.
  • Lemon/other citrus fruits: their high acidity makes them antibacterial and antiseptic, not to mention their pleasant scent!

Here are a few recipes for the most common cleaning products: all purpose spray, toilet cleaner, and disinfectant. 

All purpose cleaner:

  • Combine equal parts white vinegar + water in a spray bottle, and voila!
  • If you’d like, add a few splashes of lemon, grapefruit, or lime juice for a fresh scent to accompany your new favorite all-purpose cleaner.
  • If you need a bit more muscle to clear away caked up grime, add enough baking soda to your spray to transform it into a paste. Using this with a Brillo pad will make your life easier too!
  • Excellent for use on bedrooms or even a home bar!

Toilet Cleaner:

  • Just like your all-purpose cleaner, white vinegar + baking soda work great together to clean your toilet.
  • Simply add a few tablespoons of baking soda and about a 1/4 cup of vinegar directly into your toilet, and scrub with your toilet wand. You could even spray your all-purpose cleaner into the toilet too (rather than straight vinegar), if you prefer.

Disinfectant:

  • Using plain old hydrogen peroxide will thoroughly disinfect your surfaces.

Green cleaning productsThe Internet is full of DIY cleaning recipes. No matter what type of cleanup you have,there is a healthier and less toxic method out there. There are also plenty of books that provide great recipes and overviews of natural cleaners.

Your cleaning products aren’t the only potential dangers lurking in your cabinets- cosmetics, lawn sprays, and even the food we eat can be full of chemicals. Take some time to do an inventory of your home, and get rid of dangerous products. Make it a safe and healthy place for yourself, your family, and even your pets!

green bucket of products

The best source for eco-friendly product reviews and information is coming soon!

That’s right, ‘Discovery Forest’ will be launching very soon and promises to be the best place on the web for detailed, candid and informative reviews of all the latest eco-friendly products for your home.

Your home is said to be a reflection of yourself, and if you are a discerning, environmentally-aware consumer than we can help you make informed decisions about the contents and products suitable for your home.

In the coming weeks, we will be exploring a number of cost saving, eco-friendly products and providing useful information on how you can do your bit to help keep our planet green and healthy for generations to come.

In the meantime, we’d like to share with you this amazing video as a prelude for what is to come.  If you want to get in touch ahead of time, visit our contact page.

We look forward to having you on board as a regular reader!