Sustainability in the home and in general has been on the uptrend for a while now. Is it going to be one of those short lived guilt trips we all go on about the planet every now and again then forget?
I hope not, and I don't think it will 'go away'. What with the odd pandemic here and there and global warming issues, these are constant reminders for us of the fragility of our world. We really do have no other home apart from this one, we need to do what we can in our own small way to keep it healthy and sustaining us.
There are benefits to the awareness around sustainability and very positive ones too, some I'd like to share with you.
It makes sense that having sustainable and green products around us, in our homes and places of work, will have positive health benefits. Many of us don't realise that a great deal of the standard products we use are manufactured with chemicals that give off VOC's or volatile organic compounds, in adhesives, paints, flooring, building plasterboards and general building materials. It has been proven these chemicals can emit vapours for several years and cause respiratory problems.
It's not just product either that can make us healthier. When good design principles are also adopted that focus on air and water quality, good light source, mobility, flow and comfort in the home or workplace, the added benefits of these principles can also be felt.
One of the obvious ways of buying sustainable products is to buy British. We have a vast talent of great British Designers and manufacturers, here in the UK, designing and making some really nice furniture, lighting, flooring, kitchens, hardware, the list is endless and in fact covers all aspects of products for our interiors. You might think them expensive, that is not always the case, some are, and some aren't.
The benefit of buying locally means there is less of a CO2 impact, because the products are not being shipped by air or sea. (CO2 are the gases that are causing global warming.) And, we are supporting our communities and country.
However, just because a product is made here in the UK doesn't mean it's always healthy and sustainable, employing the right manufacturing processes and materials are essential to being recognised as eco-friendly or sustainable.
Many of the manufacturers I use here in the UK have adopted these processes and principles in their everyday lives; it's not easy but the long term benefits to the customer, planet and their bottom line, are worth it.
Buying product from companies that make sure their materials are sustainably sourced and their manufacturing processes are ethical and clean, protects our environment, making sure natural habitats and wildlife are protected and everyone in the supply chain is treated fairly.
As an example, it's important to know the source of the woods we use in our homes. Ikea has been under a lot of criticism in the last few years due to the destruction of ancient forests in Bulgaria, (illegal) they have since changed where they source their wood which now all comes from responsibly managed forests. Keep a look out for the FSC logo. (Forestry Stewardship Council)
Use your purchasing power and make sure your money is going towards positive change. By supporting eco-friendly products which are less damaging to the environment, you’re encouraging companies to source and produce their products in a sustainable way.
Another uptrend at the moment is Biophilic design. This design principle has been around since the 80's and it means 'Love of Nature". Due to the pandemic many people have looked toward nature for inspiration sense of peace and connection. Many of us have been able to push the re-set button and reconsider their priorities, which for many is to be closer to nature.
Not all of us are able to uproot and move to the Cotslwolds, so the next best thing is to bring aspects of nature into the home, we can do this by using natural materials, such as stone, wood, linen, cottons, non-toxic paints etc, all being sustainable. Having lots of plants and using the earth tones all help to create a natural environment.
Our homes can still be stylish and glamorous, by being informed and making the right choices.
You may be surprised to know that adopting a healthy and sustainable home can in fact increase the resale value of it.
If you think about it, walking into your home will have an immediate affect that feels more balanced and comfortable. The finishes, furnishings and colours will also help to make you feel more at ease.
If the lighting source and layouts use the Circadian methods, this can help sleep patterns and general overall health. It seems so many of us have problems with sleep which can lead to depression.
If you have decided to install smart electrical and heating systems, this can be a huge plus for many homeowners as it reduces energy costs, helping with budgets and reduces the impact on the earths resources.
So, overall, it has shown adopting sustainable design principles and product can add between 5-8% on the value of your home!
Your circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It's also known as your sleep/wake cycle.