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Plastic-Free Home Decorating

How to ensure your DIY and interiors projects are both home and planet friendly

How often do you think about the environmental impacts of your DIY and renovation projects? It’s easy to pick the cheapest or most well-known brand, without stopping to think about the possible environmental consequences. By stopping to think and doing a bit of research, it’s easy to opt for less harmful materials, and to be more conscious when it comes to shopping for our homes and DIY projects. Here are some tips to help you get your home looking beautiful – without costing the earth…

Furnishing your home

Lady using a wet wipe to wipe her mouth while looking in a mirror

1. Shop second-hand

In the market for some new furniture? Why not explore some pre-loved options instead of buying new. The furniture industry relies on raw materials like wood which require large sections of land dedicated to monocultures, interfering with the natural ecosystem, as well using lots of synthetic materials which, when manufactured, release toxic chemicals into the environment and harm wildlife. You can find some incredible vintage and second-hand furniture items at charity shops, antique stores, or local auctions – or even for free on sites like Freecycle or Facebook Market Place.

If you do feel the need to buy new, shop for furniture that is well-made and will last a long time, or those that use natural fabrics like cotton and linen. Just make sure that when you’re done with your furniture, you don’t burn it or fly-tip it. If it’s in good condition, you can sell it or donate it instead, and if not, consider upcycling it into something else!

2. Reclaim and reuse

If you’re having a go at making your own furniture, try and reclaim used materials where possible. Projects using new natural materials like wood require deforestation. Instead, you can buy all kinds of used materials from warehouses, find them at your local tip, or search for used wood, old tiles, and fabric offcuts online on sites like Gumtree, eBay or Freecycle. Want new outdoor furniture? There are loads of cool things you can do with pallets which you can usually get cheap or even free at local supermarkets or hardware shops.

3. Opt for Upcycle

The most sustainable thing you can do when it comes to refreshing your home is use what you already have, so why not give some love to your old furniture and re-paint it to help give it a new lease of life?

Painting and Decorating

We caught up with Pia Pelkonen, of Pia Design, a sustainable interior design company who support City to Sea through 1% For the Planet, to help us navigate picking the most sustainable paint for your home improvement projects.

What makes a Sustainable Paint?

Eco-friendly or sustainable paint should contain little to no chemicals that can cause harm to us and the environment around us. Helpfully, some paints have been accredited environmentally-friendly status, such as the EU Ecolabel Accreditation.

If you’re looking for a more sustainable paint, Pia highlights some key things you should be to looking out for…

What are VOC’s?

Chemicals known as VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) can be found in both solvent-based and water-based paints and coatings. They are also present in products used for application, such as solvents to clean paint brushes and rollers and thinners. These VOCs are released into the air as the paint dries, posing a threat to both the environment and human health. Exposure to these compounds can lead to symptoms such as itchy eyes, nose, and throat, as well as respiratory issues. In addition, they can cause nausea and impact the central nervous system and other important organs. Just like we don’t want these in our bodies, we don’t want them in the environment either.

More coverage, less waste

Another important factor when choosing a sustainable paint is to compare how many coats are recommended. The more coats required, the more paint is used, and this leads to more waste from containers. Inexpensive paint options often have poorer coverage, meaning you’re more like to have to buy more. This makes the cost difference between the ‘cheap’ option and a good quality alternative much smaller than you may think!

Why water-based?

Water-based paint uses water as its primary solvent and combines it with other ingredients. The benefits of opting for water-based paints include their ability to biodegrade, their lack of odour, and their lower levels of VOC and other harmful chemicals.

When using this type of paint, it’s possible to clean equipment like rollers and paint brushes with water instead of relying on harmful chemical substances. However, it is important to note that even most water-based paints contain acrylic and can release environmentally harmful micro-plastics into the environment when washed down the sink.

Plastic-free paints

There are out there that make plastic-free and completely natural paints, such as lime and graphene-based paints and clay paints. While these specialised paints do tend to be more expensive compared to cheaper acrylic-based paints, some may consider the environmental benefits and elimination of harmful chemicals to be a worthwhile cost.

A home that doesn’t cost the earth

We hope this blog has inspired you to get creative, save money and choose conscientiously when it comes to home-décor and DIY projects that are good for our homes, our wallets and the planet. Discover more plastic-free living tips below.

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