The following is a guest post by Caroline Smith.
I’m all for saving money, living frugally and reducing my environmental footprint. But at the same time, I like my home to look nice. Fortunately, decorating your home in an earth-friendly way doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are my tips to help you decorate your home whilst living a greener, simpler life.
Eco Paints. It’s a common misconception that eco paints and primers are over-priced and much more expensive than their conventional counterparts. Low or zero VOC paints, which don’t emit toxic fumes and odors, are now widely available at affordable prices. They don’t release volatile chemicals into the air, so they’re safer for you and your family, as well as being better for the planet. Some latex paints even come with a 25 year warranty! Painting is one of the easiest and cheapest things you can do to give your home a facelift. You may be able to get some paint for free by asking friends or family for any leftover, half-used tins.
Big Expenses. It’s inevitable that at some point you will need to spend money on major purchases such as flooring and window treatments. These are rarely cheap, but it is possible to go green and make savings in the long term.
- Flooring – Carpeting contributes to indoor air pollution by releasing formaldehyde and trapping dirt in the fibers. It gets worn and needs to be replaced every 5-10 years. Wood flooring, made from renewable materials such as cork or bamboo, is a greener option. It may be more expensive initially, but you can refinish it rather than replace it, so it will last for years and save you money in the long run. A cheaper alternative is linoleum, made from linseed oil, which is easier to clean and lasts longer than carpet.
- Curtains – Choose curtains made from natural fibers such as cotton rather than synthetics. You may pay a bit more for lined curtains, but they will help you cut your energy bills by helping insulate your home. Remember to vacuum your curtains regularly to reduce indoor pollutants that can accumulate on them.
Furniture. Recycle, Repurpose or Buy Sustainable.
- Recycle – Check out websites such as CraigsList or Freecycle to find people in your local area giving away secondhand furniture for free. Remember to donate your old furniture when you replace it, helping others out and keeping it out of landfill. Or look for bargains in junk shops or yard sales.
- Repurpose – Look at what you’ve already got and use your imagination to see if there’s any way you could reuse it. You could simply move an item such as a chest of drawers or coffee table to another room. Or you could repurpose something to give it a new look.
- Buy Sustainable – If you can’t find what you’re looking for secondhand and you decide to buy new furniture, choose eco-friendly items made from recycled or sustainable-sourced materials, such as recycled aluminum or FSC certified wood.
Caroline enjoys finding green and frugal ways to decorate her home. She runs a website that sells inexpensive slipcovers, which are great for saving money and helping the environment by extending the life of old furniture.