Decorating your home in an eco-friendly way hasn't always been easy. In the past, "green" choices for furniture and decor have been few and far between-and also, let's face it, pretty bland. But the recent resurgence of eco-conciousness has led to a veritable glut of green furniture and accessories. The good news is that your choices have never been broader or more creative. The bad news? A lot of products that aren't up to eco-friendly standards are getting slapped with the "green" label.
To help you find products you can really feel good about, we've compiled our top tips for sussing out a green pedigree: 1. Know Where It Comes From...:
The first rule of buying green? Do your research. When considering a piece of wood furniture, for example, this means verifying its origins. Exotic or old-growth hardwoods usually are a no-no, unless they're from sustainable forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (ask the manufacturer, look for the FSC logo or check out rainforest-alliance.org for a downloadable list of FSC-certified companies.)
Reclaimed woods (such as the pictures Viva Terra stool, made of waste free limbs) also is a hot-ticket green item right now and has a rustic look that fits perfectly in timber homes. 2. ...And Where It's Going:
The process used to produce your furnishings is only half of the environmental story; you'll also want to consider what will happen to the product after it has outlived its usefulness. For furniture, this can be as simple as looking for classic, heirloom-quality pieces that will last for generations.
Or look into whether the company has any recycling programs in place for its products-these days, even top environmental offenders like carpet are being recycled. (Shaw's Anso nylon carpet, pictured is made from recycled materials and can be recycled back into carpet fiber at the company's recycling plant.) 3. Breathe Freely:
Indoor air quality is a big part of living green, so make sure the products you choose aren't giving off any toxic fumes. This means staying away from pressed-wood products like particleboard (which can contain formaldehyde) and selecting paints and finishes with low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
As with other products, the number of choices available has exploded in recent years -for instance, Sherwin Williams' low-VOC Duration Home line is now available in more than 1,200 colors, including super-rich accent hues (pictured). 4. Stay Close to Home:
While it's tempting to order everything you need to decorate your home online (who doesn't love shopping in their pj's?), you run the risk of undoing all your eco-conciousness if the item has to be shipped of miles to your doorstep.
Instead, go local-pick up unique accent pieces from artisans in your area, and check your favorite chain store to see if they have an eco-friendly line. These Old World copper chargers (pictured) from national retailer Arhaus are made from recycled materials.