So you want to redecorate, but also want to be environmentally conscious. Where do you start? The scale of the project will determine which materials are best suited, and how large the budget will be. Here are 10 great tips to get you started:
Plastic bottles can save energy
Plastic bottles are versatile and have many secondary uses. They can be used for pot plants, lampshades, paper weights or door stops, and so much more. For larger scale projects, they made excellent room dividers, and can also be used as insulation in existing walls. Fill them with sand to build a well-insulated wall, or take a look at more refined products such as ISOTHERM, a polyester insulation made completely from recycled plastic PET bottles, to install in your walls and roofs. Insulation goes a long way to save energy and electricity bills every month.
Reuse old tins, jars and containers
Containers of any material can be reused to hold other things. Store your stationery or arts and crafts supplies in old baked beans tins, or decant delicious sauces or jams into sealable pickle jars to store for later. Glass jars and bottles can also be converted into lampshades for smaller bulbs, or used as vases or simply as decoration pieces. Reusing tins, glass and plastics reduces waste and the load on dumpsites and landfills, which in turn benefits the environment.
Energy-saving light bulbs
When you make or buy that lovely recycled-material lampshade, don’t forget to change the light bulb too. Replacing your incandescent light bulbs with LED (Light Emitting Diode) bulbs can save energy as well as money. LEDs use 75 percent less energy than incandescent light bulbs, and will last about 10 times longer too. Replacing those fluorescent tube lights will also help the environment, since they are toxic when disposed of incorrectly.
Are upgrading all the linens and upholstery as part of your redecorating project? Consider buying natural fibres, such as linen, cotton, rayon and hemp. Your curtains, bed sheets and couches will look and feel amazing, and the environment will thank you.
In the garden
Using recyclable materials in the garden is an eco-friendly alternative, but so is keeping a garden in the first place. Growing your own fruits, vegetables and herbs saves you money and supplements the soil and ozone around your home. Keep your home beautiful and fresh with plenty of plants to purify the air and keep things green. Use the uneaten food from your plate to create compost for your garden instead of buying expensive chemical fertilisers that can harm the soil.
Paper and cardboard
So much paper goes to waste nowadays, and reusing paper and cardboard helps reduce deforestation. Use old newspapers as wrapping paper for a stylish vintage effect, or supplement mulch for the garden with paper shreds. Keep a stash of paper for the kids’ art projects. Using toilet paper rolls and empty boxes for arts and crafts will keep them occupied for hours. Display their creations on the walls instead of forking out for a new paint job, or use natural non-toxic paints made from plant oils, extracts and minerals.
Tables, headboards and chairs made from reclaimed woods, glass and renewable resources such as bamboo and rattan are good investments, as well as sofas or mattresses that use recycled wire and steel for interior construction. Chairs, sofas and cushions come with a soy-based foam option, finishes are available in formaldehyde-free paints and VOC-free glues.
Use carpets and mats made from recycled materials and dyed with non-toxic dyes. You could even make your own from all those plastic shopping bags accumulating in the broom cupboard. Woven plastic mats are better for the bathroom than fabric mats, since they don’t invite as much fungi and bacteria. Carpets in general save energy by adding warmth and insulation to your home. Bamboo and other sustainable materials are a fashionable choice for flooring as well.
Reduce waste and prevent overflowing dumpsites by buying re-purposed furniture and other items. This doesn’t mean you should buy broken things – look for the right items and give your home a vintage theme.
Save energy, save money
Going green doesn’t always mean you should buy the expensive organic foods or install solar panels on every surface — although if you can afford it, why not? You can still help the environment on a shoestring budget, and in fact, many eco-friendly efforts will actually save you money too!