Last updated on February 20th, 2018 at 12:58 pm
Whether you live in a converted loft or a traditional two-story home, using sustainable materials is an interior design trend that can benefit your home and the environment. But there is a lot of confusion about what exactly ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ mean, and how to determine whether a product meets those standards.
What Does ‘Green’ Mean?
Green furniture doesn’t have to have a certain look. Rather, it can be indistinguishable from non-green alternatives. What sets green furniture apart is how it’s made and what materials were used. Green products or materials are created from sustainable sources and are manufactured in a manner that reduces both waste and emissions. All sustainable materials share certain characteristics: recycled or recyclable, renewable (easily replaced) and a low frequency of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can be detrimental to your health.
Sustainable Wood Furniture
In the case of wood furniture, look to see if it’s made from Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood. The FSC is a regulatory board that coordinates the development of forest management standards throughout different bio-geographical regions. Reclaimed wood is another excellent sustainable alternative. Taken from old abandoned buildings or from aging furniture pieces, reclaimed wood is refurbished and repurposed. Since durability is one of the biggest attributes of green furniture, ask questions about general quality, like construction, before making any purchases. Imported wood furniture from Bali, made with recycled teak, is a very contemporary and popular trend. The teak that’s used is taken from run-down traditional teak houses, bridges and other structures. Originally harvested from mature teaks trees, the aged wood has proven its durability over hundreds of years of use. Affordable and beautiful, these Bali imports traditionally feature smooth lines and hand carved details.
Taking advantage of vintage furniture is one of the easiest ways to incorporate green values into your home. Vintage furniture it typically at least 50 years old and has withstood the test of time, illustrating its great durability, a trait that’s particularly attractive to green initiatives. Along with a sense of history and genuine authenticity, vintage furniture offers another green facet: there is no off-gassing. If you decide to refinish a vintage piece, keep it green by using a no- to low VOC finish.
The term ‘recycled furniture’ can have several meanings. It can infer that a piece was bought at a yard sale, and thus, recycled to a new home or use. It can also mean that the furniture is actually composed of recycled materials, which are also as toxin- and chemical free as possible. Regardless of its genre, the purpose of recycled furniture is to help lessen environmental impact, by conserving resources and reducing waste. Another reason to choose this green alternative is that recycled furniture, by nature, tends to be less expensive. Whether you’re buying recycled elements for your home or office, you’re making an environmentally conscious decision, and potentially saving money in the process.
Green Flooring Options
If you’re in the market for green flooring options, there are several to consider. If you’re looking for new wood flooring, make sure that it’s from a sustainable tree farm. Otherwise, there’s no way to ensure it meets sustainable standards. There are additional options for great-looking wood floors that are both environmentally friendly and sustainably sourced. Reclaimed wood, typically salvaged from old structures and timbers, prevents new trees from being cut down, while adding visual interest with unique growth patterns and graining. If you’d prefer a more uniform look, cork and bamboo also are considered forms of sustainable flooring. If you’d prefer to steer clear of wood altogether, opt for stone or tile. Made from concrete, soapstone or glass, these alternatives are excellent for providing a little diversity and visual interest.