Last week, the universally admired Leonardo Decaprio gave an inspiring Oscar-acceptance speech that has propelled the topic of climate change back into the forefront of mainstream media. Yet the actor became a champion of green living years before he stayed the night inside a horse’s carcass for Revenant, and the same goes for the ever expanding group of eco-friendly designers that have long been doing their part to make it easier to go green in the home.
Embracing an eco-friendly ethos can really make a difference, but what does it takes to actually live this way? A great place to start is to take a critical look at the stuff you own. From eco-shopping to energy conservation, here’s a few tips to make sustainable living that little bit easier in the home.
1. Look out for Ecolabels
A green home can easily be a stylish home providing you know where to look. If you want to become an eco-shopper then you need to know which labels to trust. There are over 440 eco labels worldwide, but a few leading brands include :
- GOTS [Global Organic Textile Standard] - This is the world’s leading grade for organic fibres, and represents textiles that have been processed with the least possible environmental impact, minimal use of chemicals and good social conditions.
- Cotton Connect - A leading social enterprise working in partnership with retailers to create sustainable cotton supply chains in developing countries, thereby reducing water consumption, use of synthetic fertilises & pesticides.
- FSC (Forestry Stewardship Scheme) - FSC is a charity dedicated to promoting responsible management of the world’s forests and was established in response to global deforestation. FSC 100% means everything in your product is sourced by FSC certified forests, FSC Recycled, means the product contains 85% reclaimed materials, and FSC Mix combines FSC certified and reclaimed wood (at least 70%) with non-certified quality-controlled wood.
- Greenguard - Synthetic materials, or anything treated with synthetic substances, release toxic chemicals that have been linked to serious health issues such as birth defects and cancer. Greenguard is a certification which ensures furniture is low in toxicity. Knoll, Herman Miller and Izzydesign all offer Greenguard certified furniture options.
- C2C - Products certified by C2C (Cradle to Cradle) can be easily taken apart, sorted into their constituent parts, and recycled at the end of their lives. They are not just efficient but essentially waste free, because they're as useful at the end of their lives as they are at the beginning.
2. Buy for the future
One of the most important but often overlooked aspects of green production is durability. Cheap mass produced goods are often tempting to buy in the short-term, but they're designed to be expendable. Just like 'fast-fashion'- low-cost clothing mimicking luxury trends, 'fast-furniture' sacrifices provenance and quality for a cheap price tag, adding to society's growing mountain of wastage in the long-term ( The Royal Society of Arts has recently reported that 1.6 million tonnes of furniture is being slung into UK landfill each year).
If you want to purchase more ethical furniture for your home, a great place to start is to find pieces made using high-quality materials and production techniques. Products with the greatest longevity of usefulness are less likely to end up in landfill and could easily save you money in the long run, even if it's initially more expensive. They'll also be much easier to sell on if your furniture tastes change in the future.
One of our most popular brands, Carl Hansen & Son is dedicated to sustainable production, and only uses wood from Danish forests which are managed according to the 2004 Danish Forest Act, a law that promotes sustainable forestry incorporating ecological, social and economic considerations. Muuto, Knoll, Empatika and Greenwoods Furniture are other leading design companies producing enduring classic furniture designs according to the strictest quality and environmental standards.
Take a look at our top picks of our eco-friendly accessories and furniture.
3. Build or renovate with Passivhaus Principles
Going green is of course not just about buying ethically. Conserving energy is also a really important factor for living sustainably, and we're not just talking about turning the lights out when you leave the house (though that's a great place to start). If you're building from scratch or carrying out an extensive renovation, a growing number of designers and architects are seeing the benefits of the Passivhaus Design Principles- a construction concept that requires houses to use very little energy for heating and cooling.
Solar panels, rainwater harvesting, green roofs and super-insulation have a huge impact on reducing energy waste, as in this Pavilion London House by E2 Architecture, which has a level five out of six on the code for sustainable homes. The winner of the Evening Standard New Homes Eco + Living Award in 2015, and voted the UK's top eco home in the Guardian online in 2014, it shows sustainable homes can be beautiful without being dominated by their eco credentials.