Easy Ways to Go Green in your Living Room!

Why Go Green in your home? The reasons for building an eco-friendly house, manufacturing an organic sofa, wearing an organic cotton shirt and even using products like Burt’s Bees for taking care of your skin are basically the same as utilizing green methods in your home.  Using green products creates a healthier space for you, a more energy efficient space and uses environmentally friendly manufacturing methods which protect resources for future generations.  Every “green” purchase has quite the impact on numerous important things like your health, the environment and energy savings.  There are several ways that you can redesign your Living room with eco-friendly style.

If you want to make a large impact on your room by changing your flooring or wall paint you won’t have to look far for great products.  The most green types of flooring are those from renewable resources – fast growing bamboo, sea grass, tile, cork, wool, and linoleum top the list. Wood floors should at least be made from FSC wood, which is certified to come from sustainable forests. Most tropical woods such as mahogany are rainforest woods, so we avoid them.  Carpet is something to really look at – wool is renewable, and some companies such as Shaw floors have carpet made from recycled nylon that is also recyclable, so once it is worn out, it can be made into carpet again – this is called “cradle to cradle” manufacturing.

The main criteria for “eco-friendly” or “green” paints are the amounts of VOCs in the paint product.  VOC stands for volatile organic compounds.  These compounds have been linked to certain health illnesses and cancers.  These are gases that are emitted in the air in your home after the paint has been applied to the walls.   Top brands like Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams have quality Non-VOC paints that go on just as well as high quality paints.  Look for the Green Seal on paint labels.  Most products today have a “green label”.  The Carpet and Rug Institute has their own “green label” named CRI Green Label, in which they rate a product’s emission of VOCs.  This is important information for creating good air quality in our spaces and our health.

 When it comes to furniture, fabrics, drapery and area rugs you can employ some of the same green logic when it comes to selecting products.  You can look for products that have the GreenGuard label to ensure low toxicity emissions for a healthier space.  Yes, even furniture can off-gas depending on how it’s built.

Also refer to the Sustainable Furnishings Council list of manufacturers for buying new eco-friendly furniture.  I always see if I can reuse an existing piece of furniture such as an old sofa or chair.  They can be reupholstered and have new cushions made, so they will be like brand new.  Wood pieces can be refinished or painted.  My favorite organic fabric is grown, spun and milled close by in North Carolina.  Not only is it free of pesticides and locally harvested, it is also incredibly soft and durable.  It’s perfect for upholstery or slipcovers.

It’s pretty simple when it comes to lighting.  Change out your bulbs to either CFLs or purchase new LED light fixtures.  LED lighting is much more energy efficient and comes in softer shades of light than CFLs.  The decorative type of LED lights fixtures that are available are hard wired, such as wall sconces, chandeliers, pendants and track lighting.  LED lights are green because of their energy efficiency, which is 80% more than an incandescent bulb, longer life span – 22 years and they do not contain any toxic or hazardous materials.  They help save the planet – while keeping more green in your pocket.

Buying products that are either manufactured with recycled content or are recyclable, made from a renewable source, at a zero waste facility or within 500 miles of home is not difficult these days especially since companies make it easier to find out this information on their websites.  Going green can be as simple as repurposing something you already own and saving it from going into a landfill.  What is good for people is good for the environment.  There’s no reason to ignore the “green” options available to us as consumers.  Visit Poshsurfside.com for a list of “Green” furniture and fabric manufacturers.

Layla S. Altman, ASID is the co-owner of Posh in Surfside Beach.  She can be reached at 238-0078 or by email: layla@poshsurfside.com

Copyright 2012 by Poshsurfside.com.

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