The decision to live an eco-friendly life is an important one due to pollution, water scarcity, deforestation, and climate change. These are just some of the threats to the environment that endanger human and animal life on Earth. If governments, communities, and individuals don't make changes that avoid harming the environment, these problems will continue to worsen and disrupt life as people know it. Fortunately for most individuals, changes don't need to be difficult or expensive and can be incorporated into the many facets of one's life. Even decorating the interior of one's home can be an environmentally friendly project that employs sustainable methods.

Eco-Friendly Interior Design Materials

The materials used in interior design can have a huge carbon footprint. By making sustainable choices, a person can minimize their environmental impact. To determine whether materials are eco-friendly, one might consider things such as the manufacturing process, use of chemicals, and useful life of the material. Another consideration is the use of recycled materials.

Wood is a material commonly used in furniture and flooring. This wood should come from trees that are plentiful and fast-growing. Oak, pine, maple, and mahogany are all examples of sustainably sourced wood. For flooring, reclaimed and salvaged wood are an option. Bamboo, cork, and linoleum are also examples of flooring materials that are sustainable.

The addition of pesticides or fertilizers is a concern when choosing carpets and rugs. Wool, seagrass, jute, and sisal are some of the most common environmentally friendly materials for rugs. Another option is carpets made of recycled materials, such as recycled plastic bottles. Wicker, bamboo, and rattan are other materials that are good choices for furniture and accessories.

DIY Decor

Do-it-yourself projects range from simple to advanced, so almost anyone can find ideas that suit their skill level. A popular method of creating DIY decor is to upcycle, or repurpose an item. This involves taking an existing item, such as a piece of furniture, and turning it into something that's entirely different. A wood pallet, for example, can become a table, a bookshelf, or even a bed frame. Upcycling an old door can transform it into a headboard for a bed, and one can turn an old dresser into a bench with extra storage space. Even old tablecloths and clothing, such as T-shirts, can find new life as rugs or throw pillows.

Other DIY project ideas include refurbishing antique chairs, coffee tables, and other furniture so that it looks new again. Whether refurbishing, upcycling, or creating something brand new, people should ensure that they use eco-friendly items, including the paint. Commercial paints often contain toxic ingredients and materials that are bad for the environment and health. With the right combination of natural ingredients, however, it is possible to make paint for use on a range of indoor and outdoor surfaces. If commercial paints are a must, choose solvent-free paints.

How to Shop Eco-Friendly

How a person shops and what they buy impacts the environment. That's why making thoughtful decisions about purchases is important. First, one should determine whether buying an item is necessary or if repurposing something is an option. If shopping is a must, one should bring reusable bags to carry purchases home and avoid the plastic bags that stores often use. Shop at local stores versus traveling longer distances to reduce vehicle emissions that contribute to global warming. Shopping at thrift stores or antique shops for used items also has less of an environmental impact than shopping for new goods.

Regardless of whether they are buying new or used, people should purchase items that are durably made, even if they are more expensive. Poorly made items will always have a higher environmental cost, as they often need to be replaced more frequently.

Another green shopping habit to develop is to read labels. This can help shoppers more easily identify items that are not harmful to the environment. It's also important to never assume that items marked with claims of being "green," "sustainable," or otherwise environmentally safe are actually what they claim. Instead, one should check for verification from independent organizations that back these claims. To help identify green products, look for items that meet standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ecolabel program. These labels, which include the Energy Star certification found on light bulbs, light fixtures, and other appliances, show that an item meets standards and recommendations regarding recycled materials, energy efficiency, and safety for the health of both humans and the environment.

Ways to Be More Sustainable at Home

Green living is more than just making eco-friendly choices about a home's furnishings and decor. People can and should make daily lifestyle choices at home that positively affect the environment. One way to do this is to be more energy-efficient. Homes should have a programmable thermostat that is set to specific temperatures at specific times of the day to minimize energy consumption. They can also be programmed to turn on or off at certain times of the day or night. Before turning on an air conditioner, people can also take other steps to keep their homes cool. Installing curtains or shades, for example, can help a room stay cooler by reducing heat gain. Other ways to reduce energy use include turning off lights and the TV when rooms are empty and unplugging electronics and appliances when they're not in use. Installing low-flow shower heads and aerating faucets can help people conserve water, as will taking shorter showers and turning off the tap while tending to one's oral hygiene.

Because landfills are a serious environmental problem, it's important to handle garbage properly. These masses of trash leach toxins into bodies of water, endanger animal life, and, depending on the type of garbage, may take hundreds of years to break down. Recycling plastics, paper, and aluminum cans at home is one way to reduce the amount of garbage that goes into landfills. Composting organic material such as food scraps, eggshells, and paper towels also helps to reduce waste by making it useful.

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