What's your green quotient?

Decor

What's your green quotient?

Making homes green is more than a fad these days — it’s a conscious effort on the part of responsible citizens. Swati Kapur has some suggestions for you.

Use sustainable resources such as bamboo, and reprocessed or recovered wood for your furniture or other furnishings. As much as you can, avoid using furniture made of new wood, either hard or soft.

They deplete the forests substantially. Bamboo, which is not a wood but a grass, is one of the most versatile materials and can create a warm and inviting look. The best thing is that it can be renewed from its source in a least amount of time because it can grow very fast and without consuming any pesticides. It’s a good idea to opt for recycled furniture. This way you save a lot of new wood. Of course, you would like to make sure that these oldies are still in good condition.

Foam has been the most used cushioning for beds, sofas, love seats and futons. However, cotton, kapok or latex are a great substitute with no polyester fillings. You may also consider rejecting furnishings manufactured using toxic substances such as paints and varnishes, epoxies and stains. Before buying any furniture, inquire about the material used in the manufacture of the item whether it is eco-friendly or not.

Other resources

Glass: Eco glass generally has 95% recycled glass and plastic, and can be used as a hard wearing surface for kitchen worktops. Eco glass worktops are available in a range of finishes to resemble marble, quartz or granite, and match conventional glass for practicality and style.

Fabrics: Natural eco fabrics are the environmentally friendly alternative to synthetic cloth because they are made from renewable plant fibres. The two most popular eco fabrics are cotton and jute (also called hessian), and other types include hemp, recycled polyester, organic leather, wool, felt and fair trade silks. The fabric can lend a great look to your armchair coverings, carpets, curtains and rugs. Apart from just being more environmentally friendly and biodegradable, eco fabrics are more breathable than synthetic cloth.

Paints: Conventional lead-based paint emits harmful chemicals into the air, such as pesticides, herbicides and toxins, which are referred to as volatile organic compounds (VOC).

These chemicals are damaging to the environment and people’s health. In fact, conventional paint is blamed for problems such as asthma, chest complaints and sick building syndrome. Eco paints, on the other hand, contain fewer or no toxins at all, in which case they are labelled as being VOC free. Eco paints are odourless. The most popular types are milk, plant, water or soy based, rather than lead. If anybody in the family suffers from asthma or other breathing problems then switching to eco paints becomes a priority.

Varnish: When decorating wooden surfaces in your eco home, you should consider using varnish with a natural, rather than synthetic resin.

Conventional synthetic varnishes contain acrylic, vinyl and algid, which are environmentally damaging to manufacture and dispose of. Eco varnishes, however, contain a plant based resin. Popular types contain resin from dammar, copal and rosin trees. Its resin can be harvested over and over again, making it an eco material for protecting wooden surfaces.

Decor elements

Making a green home is not rocket science. All it needs is conscious thinking and a good craftsman who can translate your ideas into realities.

For instance, instead of making a wall partition, consider a bamboo wood screen. Or if space allows, try growing bamboo stalks to cover any unwanted area, or to simply separate two distinct areas.

Brick and stone walls add a warm old world finish to walls. These walls are not only stronger but also provide insulation from heat and cold. Soumya Bharti from Bangalore has incorporated a lot of brick and stone work in her exteriors as well as interiors such as living room walls and stairways.

“In 2009, when we built our house, we were clear that we wanted a lot of natural materials and decor items and therefore consciously stayed away from any synthetic stuff.
“My deep red brick walls lend a rich and warm look. I have stone chips embedded on one of the highlight walls of my living room. The wall is not our eye candy as it dramatically shifts moods with a little variation in lighting,” adds Soumya.

There are diverse options when it comes to choosing wallpapers.

Designs like classic retro prints, metallic geometrics, botanical prints and those that mimic the look of natural landscapes are among the popular trends.

Choose from wallpapers that are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) free.

You can make out if it’s VOC free by merely smelling the paper. Organic wallpaper on the other hand has less VOC and is made of grass cloth and cotton fiber. You may also ask for papers made of cotton cellulose, organic paper, cotton thread and other recycled materials.

Welcome plants

It is a great idea to have house plants. All the more necessary and interesting is how you choose them to be a part of your life. Go for houseplants that work double the amount in purifying your air by releasing higher amounts of oxygen, filtering dust and absorbing toxins.

Choose colourful house plants if you would also like to add colour than just green.
You are not just opting for an organic and eco-friendly material, but also saving on those bucks when you design using stuff like paper mache, cane and bamboo, terracotta tiles, cottons and natural fibre. To add to it, the maintenance cost for eco-friendly options is far less than any other material used.

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