The leaves are starting to turn, and you know what that means; dinner parties, holidays, and family visits. With summer vacations out of the way and children back in school, it’s the perfect time to refresh and refurbish interior decor. Before heading to your department store, however, give some thought to your decor materials and methods. Are you choosing nontoxic materials and sustainable alternatives?
How Could Decor Be Toxic?
Unfortunately, toxins and irresponsible production methods creep into most commercially-produced items, from textiles to candles. Even if you’re not worried about the carcinogens in your linens or the volatile compounds in your rug, it would be remiss not to consider the impact that our decor choices have on Mother Earth. By investing in nontoxic, natural, and sustainable decor, you can make a small contribution to the world we live in and purify your home at the same time. Below are five ways to get started.
1. Choose Natural Linens and Textiles
Few people think about toxins when they cuddle into the couch with their favorite throw blanket or lay down to sleep at night, but most standard brands produce linen, bedding, and textiles with chemicals like polyurethane, synthetic latex, polyester, and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Toxins like these can be absorbed into the bloodstream on contact and inhaled after hours of close exposure. Another unfortunate aspect of materials like these is their impact on the environment during production and once they are discarded. Because of the toxins and petrochemicals used to produce these products, textile factories release some particularly damaging contaminants into the air, soil, and water. You can, however, ornament your home with natural, sustainable alternatives like the following:
- Rugs made of natural wool, organic cotton, or vegetable fibers like hemp, jute, and seagrass.
- Bedding and linens made from sateen, silk, organic wool and cotton, vegetable fibers, or Biofoam.
- Textiles and clothing that use conscientious production methods as well as nontoxic ingredients and dyes.
2. Multipurpose Air Fresheners
Some all-natural air fresheners can double as decorative elements. Here are some easy DIY ways to improve household odors while adding an ornamental touch:
- Make a eucalyptus wreath.
- Poke whole cloves into oranges and place them in bowls around the house.
- Cut the last remaining flowers from your garden and hang them upside-down to dry. Once dried, crumble them into a glass bowl and sprinkle them with fragrant essential oils for a long-lasting potpourri.
- Add a few drops of aromatic essential oil to a jar of water and throw in some bamboo skewers to make a natural scent diffuser.
- Plant aromatic herbs like basil or mint in planters around your home for a long-term pleasant aroma.
- Make an olive oil candle by mixing olive oil with fresh herbs or essential oils in an open glass container. Insert a sturdy lantern wick for an instant candle.
3. Flora Galore
There are abundant benefits to bringing live greenery into the home. Not only are they beautiful, plants can cleanse the air, create pleasing scents, and boost your mood! Surround yourself with indoor plants this fall and enjoy the advantages all winter long. Here are some houseplants that will happily survive the winter inside:
- Aloe vera
- Staghorn fern
- English ivy
- African violets
4. Reuse and Recycle
One of the most sustainable and earth-friendly ways to decorate your home is by reclaiming and recycling used or unwanted items. Whether it’s old aluminum cans or a discarded wooden crate, their are countless attractive ways to decorate your home with little to no impact on the environment.
- Reuse empty glass jars and glass food packaging by filling them with stones, potpourri, sand, and other textures; or simply use them as flower pots and vases.
- Paint aluminum cans and use them as small object containers to organize the pantry or a desk/craft area.
- Recycle used lamp frames as wire plant stands for terracotta plant pots.
- Cut and sand down an old wooden ladder to use as a towel or drying rack.
- Sand and paint an unused crate or pallet to be reused as a coffee or side table.
- Shallow wooden boxes or crates may be beautified with paint and/or wallpaper, then hung on the wall to serve as modern shelving.
- Well-worn sweaters can be transformed into throw pillows or small pet beds.
Bring In the Elements
There are few things more visually calming than the elements of nature. At little to no cost, you can bring raw materials from the outdoors into your home to serve as simple and wholesome decor. If you have a big remodeling project ahead, rethink your plans to include natural elements like wood, stone, and water. Here are a few ideas:
- Instead of artificial flowers or potentially toxic candles, try decorating shelves with driftwood, raw crystals, or seashells.
- Cleaning up a fallen tree in the yard? Cut sections of the stump to be used as stools, side tables, or a coffee table.
- When remodeling, consider incorporating a slate water wall into one side of a room. The sound of trickling water can improve your mood and promote sleep.
- Redoing the floors? Scrap carpet and opt for naturally treated wood, or even better, reclaimed wood.
- Let the light and air in whenever possible. Open doors and windows, and use natural light to brighten and purify the home.
As you can see, there are innumerable small changes you can make to your home to reduce toxins and promote an earth-friendly, sustainable lifestyle. Have you incorporated your own creative solutions in your home? Comment below and let us know!
Read more about maintaining a healthy home on the Living Clean blog: