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Share to PinterestDesign Inspo For a More Sustainable Home
Share to PinterestDesign Inspo For a More Sustainable Home
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Putting the brakes on overconsumption can be a challenge, but it's one our society will have to rise to as we grapple with finite resources and climate change. Much can be done on the home front, whether you're planning a full-blown residential construction or a more modest room update.

Drawing from Japanese and Scandinavian influences, this list considers accessible methods for beginning to make changes where it counts—in the habitual and significant details of domestic life.

01

Energy-efficient updates

Share to Pinterestman putting LED lightbulb into ceiling light fixture

Old-school lightbulbs are energy guzzlers, but there's an easy swap that makes a lot more sense these days. LED fixtures use 80% less energy than traditional incandescent light bulbs and last for ages, so you don't have to balance precariously on a stepladder to switch them out as frequently.

The range of available fixtures for your styling pleasure has grown as well, and you can get portable USB-powered lamps too. Plus, if you're in the market for a new dishwasher or fridge, technology has made leaps and bounds, and you can purchase more eco-friendly appliances.

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02

Trendy terrazzo

Share to Pinterestterrazzo bathroom backsplash

Terrazzo is so aesthetically pleasing, but it is also a greener choice for decorative accents. Genuine terrazzo uses recycled materials aplenty—close to 80% of terrazzo may be salvaged. For example, modern Venetian-style terrazzo flooring can contain glass, metal, mixed marble scraps, stone offcuts, resin, and cement.

This material is durable, low-maintenance, and doesn't contribute to poor indoor air quality. And it looks beautiful on walls, countertops, and just about any accessory you can think of. This gorgeous trend is likely here to stay, so you won't need to renovate in a few years to keep it contemporary.

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03

Minimalist style

Share to Pinterestdining room and living room minimalist scandinavian design

What makes Scandinavian home design so eco-friendly? Yes, natural materials are a hallmark of Scandi decor, and that's a significant part of the equation, but the region's minimalism also sets it apart from others.

Designers from Sweden and Norway often recommend cutting clutter by selling items or passing underutilized objects on to people who need them. Today, many of these auctions take place online. To a large degree, the culture cyclically uses what already exists, rather than demanding new "stuff" that guzzles energy to produce.

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04

Hero plants in interior decor

Share to Pinterestwoman watering variety of indoor plants on the walls

Contemporary home life is often so disconnected from nature that when we see houseplants, it can ease a tightness in our chests we didn't even know was there. Indoor plants are multitaskers. They infuse interiors with vibrant, earthy palettes and produce life-giving oxygen. Many, like the ZZ and rubber plants, actively clean and remove toxins from the air.

Succulents and cactuses are water-wise but aren't as efficient at filtering volatile organic compounds (VOCs). You can also use locally grown flowers to brighten kitchen counters, bathroom shelves, and cozy nooks.

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05

Use VOC-free paint

Share to Pinterestwoman painting a wall in her home

VOCs are unhealthy for humans and pollute the environment, including our air and water systems. Old-school paint is a culprit, but new iterations have low levels of VOCs or no VOCs. These sustainable paints are clearly labeled.

Linseed oil paint is popular in Sweden because it harmlessly breaks down in nature. Or skip the paint altogether and opt for natural plaster finishes for your interiors—they end up being more budget-friendly too.

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06

Green rugs

Share to Pinterestbright airy living room with eco-friendly jute rug

Nylon and polypropylene rugs are common, but they're not easily recyclable and have a larger carbon footprint than you might think. If you're aiming for a more environmentally-conscious lifestyle, try to interrogate every purchase you make—the devil is in the detail, after all.

Rug fibers that include alpaca, jute, felt, linen, seagrass, and wool tend to be quickly replenishable or biodegradable. And green rugs don't involve toxic chemicals like PFAS in the production process. Natural rubber backings are preferred to PVC, which can off-gas.

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07

Organize shmorganize

Share to Pinterestglass jars with labels holding pantry items

You know that wonderful feeling you get after a solid spring cleaning session, when your room feels lighter and airier, and you could be walking on sunshine? You can keep that feeling! All it takes is the willpower not to replace what you got rid of with unnecessary "space savers."

You can organize just fine with what you've kept—simply shop your home! Breathe new life into old items with low-cost upcycling projects like painting glass jars for storage solutions.

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08

Daylighting

Share to Pinterestsmiling family moving into bright house with skylights

The more natural light in a home, the more energy you'll save. Daylighting involves making the most of windows, skylights, and reflective surfaces that maximize sunlight and help it bounce all over a house.

It's visually pleasing, healthier because it helps with your circadian rhythm, and begins during a building's design, so if you're doing a major reno soon, keep this factor in mind. Architects will consider facade placement and roof geometry to increase natural ventilation, reduce glare, and ensure your crib is lit in every sense of the word. And if you're not putting holes in walls, open up those curtains and let in the light.

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09

Insulating walls

Share to Pinterestconstruction worker installing eco-friendly wool insulation into wall

If you can manage to keep the cold out without resorting to power-hungry heating systems, you'll dramatically lower your home's impact on the environment. Carpets and good-quality curtains help. So does proper insulation of walls and ceilings.

There may be an upfront cost, but you'll save in the long run. Look for natural fibers like cork, sheep's wool, and fire-resistant mushroom insulation.

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10

Pre-loved furniture

Share to Pinterestwoman upcycling an old chair

One person's trash can become another person's treasure—it's a matter of imagination and flair. Trawl the internet, and you'll find inspiration in online design magazines and Pinterest boards.

Even those who aren't particularly creative can get a feel for what's possible with antique or vintage pieces. There's potential in that taken-for-granted mid-century modern chair or French provincial table on Facebook marketplace. You can reupholster one-seaters and sofas in fresh and exciting fabrics, or speak to someone in the know who can turn a find into a unique piece no one else has.

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