Go green with your interior design
When you hear the phrase “green your home,” what immediately comes to mind? Solar panels and more energy-efficient windows? Or perhaps replacing your existing siding and insulation? While these renovations are important factors in maintaining a healthier environment and an eco-friendly home, many homeowners don’t know that they can start even smaller, going green with their homes’ interior textiles.
With the abundance of bleaching, dyes, chemical applications and pesticides associated with textile production and plant growth, the industry as a whole has been perceived as more environmentally harmful than not. But, there are more and more textiles on the market today that can benefit both your home and the environment. Following are a few of the most popular.
Bamboo – Not only is bamboo one of the fastest growing woody plants, it also minimizes carbon dioxide and generates 35 percent more oxygen than other plants and trees. Bamboo also helps prevent erosion and requires little, if any, irrigation. Bamboo can be woven into placemats, rugs, window coverings, wall coverings and more.
Hemp – Strong, hypo-allergenic and one of the world’s most readily renewable plants, hemp is derived from the cannabis sativa plant, which requires no pesticides, controls erosion and produces oxygen. Hemp is often used for bedding, bath towels, reupholstering furniture and more.
Soy – Derived from food production waste, soy-based fabrics are extremely biodegradable and require less dye than other fabrics. Soy leaves a minimal environmental impact and is easily renewable. It is often called the eco-alternative silk. Look for it in everything from mattresses and pillows to blankets and even carpet.
Organic cotton – Around the world, cotton production accounts for more than 25 percent of all insecticide use and 10 percent of all pesticide use. Organic cotton, however, is grown without toxic pesticides, and its farming has a low impact on the environment. You’ll find organic cotton items in just about every variety that you’d find regular cotton ones.
If you’re looking for eco-friendly fabrics, avoid the following, which are the most environmentally harmful:
Dyeing for color?
Be sure to check the ingredients in your fabric’s dye. Low-impact dyes absorb more readily into fabrics, requiring less of the dye and less water for rinsing. They’re also void of toxic chemicals. Another option is vegetable dye, which is derived from natural sources. Just make sure those sources weren’t part of an overly fertilized or pesticide-exposed crop.
Out with the old
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 4 million tons of textiles are sent to landfills annually. Fortunately, donation centers such as Goodwill Industries, which are prominent throughout the Atlanta area, are some of the largest collection centers of unwanted textiles. Be sure to donate fabrics you no longer need in your home; even if charitable centers cannot sell your donations, they can pass them along to other textile recovery centers that will make good use of your old items.