Green your home by focusing on the room where you spend much of your time -- the living room. When designing and outfitting a living room, you can make purchases that come from green, sustainable sources. In addition, your everyday use of your living space and the habits you put into practice can also have a positive impact on the environment.
Designing and Furnishing
Choose low-emission, eco-friendly materials, locally produced, whenever possible. If you've building a new home this can include everything from flooring to windows to ceiling fixtures. Avoid adhesives, carpeting materials, finishes and flooring that produce high levels of volatile organic compounds or that require frequent maintenance with toxic waxes and chemicals. Choose carpets made from renewable resources, such as wool, or recycled materials. (See References 1)
Furnish with used and refurbished items. Scour antique and thrift shops for interesting pieces. Fix and repair broken items rather than trashing them and buying new.
Purchase items made from sustainable and renewable resources, if you must buy new. For example, select furniture made from sustainably harvested wood or pillows and throws made from wool or organic cotton, rather than synthetic fibers. If possible, choose items made or manufactured locally to reduce the emissions associated with long-distance transportation. The Sustainable Furnishings Council notes that many manufacturers are using reclaimed lumber, as well as sustainable woods to produce new items (see References 2).
Plug all your living room electronics, such as televisions, DVD players and computers into a power strip that you can turn off when you're not in the room. Many electronics use standby power, continuing to draw electricity even when not in use. Turn off lights when you leave the room and set computers to enter sleep mode after a period of inactivity. (See References 1)
Place your furniture to take advantage of natural light and airflow. Open windows can provide fresh air and light; use fans to help keep you cool.
Clean using a vacuum with a High efficiency Particulate Air filter and eco-friendly surface and carpet cleaners certified by a third-party organization or labeled as low-VOC, readily biodegradable, bio-based and solvent-free (see References 1). Vinegar, baking soda, Castile soap, borax and lemon juice can handle most basic cleaning tasks (see References 4).
First published in 2000, Dawn Walls-Thumma has served as an editor for "Bartleby" and "Antithesis Common" literary magazines. Walls-Thumma writes about education, gardening and sustainable living. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and writing from University of Maryland and is a graduate student in humanities at American Public University.
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