As many of us have begun to pay more attention to our environmental impact, we have also all spent far more of our work and leisure time at home due to the pandemic. Alison Hughes, Interiors Director at Coast Road Furniture, explains how to bring these two elements together and incorporate more sustainability into your home design this year, to benefit you and the planet.
Recent research has suggested that our environmental awareness is on the rise, with 85% of UK consumers reportedly adopting at least one sustainable lifestyle change in the past year, and one third favouring brands with eco-friendly, ethical credentials (Deloitte). However, other studies have also found that despite this desire to become more sustainable consumers, 22 million pieces of furniture are still discarded in the UK every year, with only 15% being reused and the rest going straight to landfill (Integral).
Our living space has become more important to us than ever as we increasingly work and socialise at home, which means it’s a great place to put our eco-friendly ambitions into practice in a way that benefits our own wellness too. Here’s our top tips on how to create interior spaces that not only look beautiful and welcoming, but come with sustainability built-in.
Close to home
Many of us took to redecorating or even remodelling our homes this year in pursuit of the perfect home office, or our very own outdoor bar. But before getting too swept up in online shopping to make your Pinterest board a reality, take a moment to consider the origin and life cycle of your new furniture. This will help you to introduce more sustainable choices to your home.
Researching the journey that your furniture makes to your home can help you to determine how sustainable a company is. While ordering pieces from overseas may be cheaper on a short-term basis, keeping your purchases within the UK is one of the first steps you can make in becoming a more conscious consumer. Buying British-made products rather than importing them can not only reduce the carbon emissions involved in shipping and delivering your furniture, but it also helps to support UK businesses and the next generation of skilled workers they train.
A breath of fresh air
A great way to make your home feel greener is to take this quite literally, and bring a little of the outside in. Houseplants have had a huge surge in popularity of late, and while this is certainly thanks to the colour and personality they can add to a room, some have also credited them with improving our air quality. As we spend more and more time indoors, many of us have become more conscious about the quality of air we breathe. Some studies have suggested that houseplants can help filter out pollutants in your flat, house, or office space, such as the chemicals from synthetic fabrics or dyes (NASA). And, according to the same study, peace lilies and florist’s chrysanthemums are some of the best varieties for purifying air. Now you have the perfect excuse to go a little overboard at your favourite garden centre: use it wisely!
Quality over quantity
As the reign of fast fashion seems to be gradually waning, more of us are choosing to shop less often, and instead opting for higher-quality items that last. In fact, research has found that 39% of us are reportedly buying fewer new goods than we were a year ago, with this move being driven predominantly by Gen-Z and younger Millennial consumers (Deloitte). A move away from throwaway culture doesn’t have to stop at your wardrobe, however: bring this ethos into your home by resisting the call of cheaper, trend-focused furniture and instead saving up to buy quality pieces, like solid oak dining sets or a premium mattress, that will last you for years to come.
Buying quality pieces also ensures that, when you are finally ready to part with your furniture, you can enter into a donation or upcycling scheme and create a more circular lifespan for your items rather than sending them straight to landfill (ClearCycle). This way you can clear out your garage and your conscience all at once!
Choosing pieces made with natural materials such as wood, rattan, or bamboo is a great way to start investing in more sustainable, ethically made products. The paints and varnishes used in producing and transporting furniture can also be harmful in high concentrations, so finding pieces that are as naturally derived as possible is also a great way to minimise bringing more pollutants into your home (Live Science).
However, whilst wood is a sustainable and eco-friendly resource in theory, watch out for companies that may greenwash their brand by making their process and materials seem far more ethical than they really are. Instead, be sure to opt for those that source their timber responsibly.
Similarly, if you’ve cut down your use of animal products for the sake of the planet, this doesn’t have to end at the dinner table. Choosing sofas made with high-quality materials like faux leather or vegan down inside the cushions is a great way to keep you on your plant-based mission, right down to your home furnishings.
This year we’ve realised just how important it is to create a beautiful home environment that makes you happy. From houseplants to vegan couch cushions, if you want to become more sustainable there’s plenty of ways you can do your part and make your home even kinder to the planet.