The Sustainable Home

Sustainable, eco-friendly or green – what is a homeowner to do? Home design has changed so much since our parents’ generation. What does “sustainable” even mean? Sustainable or green products fall into one or more of the following categories: products that are produced and shipped locally, products that are renewable or products that last longer than traditional products. Many of these are no more expensive initially than older products and are less costly to operate or replace. Here is my top 10 list of sustainable alternatives for home design.

1. Wood that is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-rated such as reclaimed wood, bamboo, palm and rubberwoods is a smart choice for your home. Instead of replacing your cabinets, try refinishing them.

2. Glass is a sturdy and versatile material, which can be used and reused for years. Try recycled glass tiles on your kitchen’s backsplash.

3. FSC bark siding is perfect to use in place of vinyl siding, which actually creates toxins during manufacturing that are released for years. Compressed Earth blocks are natural masonry made with soil, clay and sand that are covered in stucco or plaster. 

words: Melissa Perry, Lotus Designs & Home Staging

4. Recycled rubber, cork and “green” linoleum are not used to make vinyl floorings. Green linoleum is made from renewable resources and is anti-bacterial, which is great news for parents of small children.

5. Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) use 60 to 80 percent less energy than regular bulbs and can last up to 6,000 more hours. We have them in our home, and I haven’t had to change a bulb in more than six months.

6. Decorative stone such as concrete, recycled glass and soapstone are all budget-friendly choices for your counters, fireplaces, pillars and flooring.

7. Wallpaper is back in style! You can find FSC-certified styles by Solara, which are made of 20 percent post-consumer waste and are chlorine-free.

8. Carpets made with organic cotton, jute, sisal and wool are superior for durability and a great choice for allergy sufferers.

9. Organic cottons, modal, hemp and bamboo fabrics are among the “greenest” available. No pesticides in your baby’s crib sheets here, Mom.

10. Paint made without volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is my favorite design tool. VOCs trigger or exacerbate allergies, asthma and other breathing problems. Toxins are continuously released into the air long after application. These toxins cause headaches, dizziness, fatigue and even cancer. Look for the green seal on paint products to ensure only the lowest VOC paints are used in your home. My favorite is Sherwin William’s Harmony line that is 100 percent VOC-free.