One of the most exciting parts about moving into a new place, whether it be a home or one of the charming Bellevue apartments, is finding all the furnishings and décor you plan on using in your new space. But before you plop down hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars on furnishings, consider eco-friendly options. They are better for the environment and getting eco-friendly furniture isn’t always more expensive than less eco-friendly pieces of furniture. Even if you don’t have a whole house or apartment to furnish, you, and the earth, can always benefit from the wide availability of eco-friendly furniture and décor.
Look for Renewable Materials
Picking renewable materials entails choosing resources that are being produced or grown at a rate that is equivalent or faster than the rate that the resource is being consumed or used. That way, using the renewable resource is not detrimental to the world’s habitats and ecosystems, and you won’t have to worry about getting low on a natural resource. For instance, popular woods maple and oak are used in everything including kitchen cabinets and dining tables but maple and oak trees take years and years to grow. Instead, furniture made of a fast-growing tree, such as ever popular rubberwood, is a much more environmentally friendly option. Plus it is very sturdy and durable. For floors, cork and bamboo are much more sustainable than traditional hardwood floors and some people enjoy the feeling and look of them much better. Other renewable materials to look of out for include beechwood, coconut palm trees, plywood, and stainless steel. Eco-friendly fabrics for things like pillow covers, curtains, and other linens and upholstery include organic cotton, wool, hemp and jute. Think about including more plants in your home’s décor. They are stylish and inexpensive decorative pieces that absorb carbon dioxide and release clean oxygen into the air.
Use Non-toxic Finishes
What a piece of furniture is finished with is just as important as what the piece is made out of. Many traditional paints, stains, and lacquers emit toxic chemicals such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Fortunately, there are products out there that don’t emit such toxic chemicals and can look just as beautiful. They include more natural-based paints, which may consist of milk proteins and clay. Some paints can even hold up to hot and dry climates. Eco-friendly stains may consist of natural seed and citrus oils.
Check out Certified Products
Not all eco-friendly products are certified by an independent company but it certainly helps to know some of the organizations that do certify. Non-profit and industry independent Greenguard Environmental Institute has specific emissions criteria for all types of furnishings and décor items, and certifies items that meet their criteria as Indoor Air Quality Certified. Furnishings such as desks and tables that have low enough levels of emissions for such chemicals including formaldehyde and VOCs are eligible to be certified. MBDC’s Cradle to Cradle certification criteria factors in things such as the health and safety of materials, and the efficiency of energy and water used among other factors. Products are certified as Basic, Silver, Gold or Platinum.