From bamboo toothbrushes to non-toxic paint, DIY cleaners and BeesWrap instead of plastic to keep food fresh, having an eco-friendly home is easier than ever. By Harriet Whiting
Have you ever daydreamed about having an off-grid, greener home, completely self-sustainable and totally ready for anything the future might throw at us?
We’ve all had those fantasies, yet the reality is often not practical, especially in our busy, connected lives. Lurking at the back of our minds is the worry that being eco and having a greener home is somehow a little too earthy for our tastes, and would mean making a compromise on our standard of living.
What if you could make a few changes here and there, opt for better choices which would not only make your home a healthier and greener environment, but in turn would benefit the planet?
And what if, these choices were in fact stylish, on-trend and perfectly compatible with your homes’ interior style? With green living becoming more in fashion, and interest in environmental issues at an all-time high, paired with the uprising of sustainably-minded businesses, having an eco-friendly greener home is now an easy and accessible option.
No Place Like a Greener Home
Your house should always be a haven, the place you call home, filled with your personally curated items. But strip it back to the basics and what you need first of all is clean air.
An environmentally pleasing way to do this is to scatter houseplants around your home. Their benefits are numerous; leafy wonders such as spider plants, peace lilies and ferns will purify the air, and bring natural greenery into your home.
It also leaves no need for toxic air-fresheners which contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). Candles also contain small amounts of VOC’s so an air-cleaning alternative would be a Bloomtown candle, £12 (AED56) made with a natural coconut and soya wax and a lead-free wick – that comes in an attractive glass jar with cork lid which you can reuse as a stylish storage jar once the candle has burnt down.
The LED Light Fantastic
If you truly want a greener home, you should take note of other light sources. The bulbs you put into your lamps, spotlights, and cabinet lights should be LED Lighting. This is another easy-fix, but well worth doing as traditional fluorescent lightbulbs are energy inefficient, wasting 90 per cent more than LED lightbulbs.
You may miss the ‘lightbulb’ moment of flicking on the light switch but the warm LED glow reassures you that you’ve made the right choice for your energy bills, and the environment.
While you’re re-thinking your lighting, you might want to opt for an eco-friendly yet elegant pendant light fitting. The Tabu Pendant Light, £85.95 (AED407 Paper High Fair Trade Gifts) is a Fair Trade choice, made by artisans in India using recycled copper.
Another material that sits stylishly and sustainably within your greener home is bamboo. It is an incredibly versatile material that can be used for chic flooring, beautifully crafted furniture and contemporary household pieces such as towel rails or storage baskets.
Bamboo grows very quickly so can easily be sustained, plus during its rapid growth it absorbs four times more CO2 compared to trees, which is in turn great for reducing greenhouse gases that harm the ozone layer. However, it is important to check through the Forest Stewardship Council that the bamboo you’re thinking of buying is certified.
The next step for your home might be to redecorate. If so, opt for a non-toxic, low VOC water-based paint which limits dangerous fumes in your home and reduces the gases that contribute to global warming.
Using an eco-friendly paint also means cutting down on non-biodegradable waste of unused paint. London-based company Paint The Town Green, from £25 (AED118) have gorgeous natural shades, including a range by interior designer Nicky Haslam.
People often refer to bedrooms as their sanctuary within a home: an area where comfort and personal style is paramount. Here you should put special thought into how you can strike the right balance between being green and being comfortable.
If you desire guilt-free yet overly luxurious nightwear and lingerie then small, ethical business Siku Moja, from £25 (AED118) can provide the ultimate in sustainable loungewear. Expect beautifully crafted pieces from organic bamboo and cotton, which are not only long-lasting but come with an unrivalled ethical supply chain through Tanzania, India and Wales.
Where you lay your head is the upmost importance and to ensure a deep conscience-clearing sleep, consider a green mattress with organic cotton bedding. Avocado Mattresses, from $950 (AED3,490) are made from natural latex, harvested from rubber sap trees in Asia resulting in a non-toxic and VOC free mattress. This latex is also biodegradable unlike many other mattresses, which are continually adding to landfill. Layer your bed with luxurious, organic cotton sheets and blankets made from sustainable wool.
Your bathroom is another room that needs to be practical but also offers opportunity for pockets of luxury. This doesn’t have to be at the cost of the environment though. Ethical beauty is a huge market now and there’s a plenty of choice. Pai Skincare shower gels, £16 (AED75) are great for sensitive skin, as all their products have high levels of pure, organic essential oils and no toxins such as parabens, SLS or alcohol. You should always have a close look at the ingredients to check that nasties like palm oil are not included. Through the harvesting of palm oil and deforestation of natural rainforest habitats many animals’ (in particular the orangutan) existence is threatened.
Bloomtown’s soaps, scrubs and clay masks, from £5.60 (AED26) are 100 per cent palm-oil free and use sustainable ingredients sourced locally such as lavender, rose and tea tree. Bloomtown also have very strong eco-principles through strict use of recyclable, plant-based packaging and a no-plastic policy, although this hasn’t affected the beauty and sheer luxury of their products. If you are interested in cutting back on plastic, another great step for the environment is to invest in a bamboo toothbrush, £3.99 (AED19) which adds a natural, stylish feel to your bathroom.
Kitchens are often an area that can become cluttered with plastic and pollutants. However, chemicals are not necessary to keep a kitchen clean and germ-free. By mixing citrus peel with vinegar, you can create an effective and toxic-free cleaner.
Cling film and plastic storage containers can easily be replaced by using empty jam jars or BeesWrap, $15 (AED55), which is made from organic cotton and beeswax and is washable and reusable. You can use it for covering food for the fridge or take it out with you to avoid using plastic bags or containers. If you own a Nespresso machine, consider swapping your plastic pods for Cru Kafe’s compostable pods, £3.48 (AED17), which contain ethically sourced, organic coffee from sustainable coffee farms in Colombia, Peru and Ethiopia.
Kitchens are a great place to practice sustainable living by growing herbs. It’s very easy to do, adds a fresh zing to your cooking and also creates a lovely, green feel to your kitchen. For inspiration, keep organic and vegetarian cookbooks to hand, to encourage healthy eating and reduce meat consumption, as food-related emissions from meat are a significant contributor to climate change.
Through these small tweaks to our lifestyle – by making environmentally friendly changes in our homes – we can certainly make a difference to how our homes feel and perform, which in turn creates a positive change for our environment.