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How can we be more Sustainable in Designing and Decorating our Homes

For quite a time now, the word ‘sustainability’ has become a buzzword, although it encapsulates several dimensions of our lives, like the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the type of shelter we live in etc etc. In order to have a sustainable life, we can start by building the right kind of houses and abiding by sustainable ways for doing our home decor. Be it the house owner or the architect, the stakeholders in designing a house are being more responsible and open to using eco-friendly ways while designing the house and while planning its home decor. Lately people have understood, to thrive we need to be in complete sync with nature and instead of just being greedy and asking for more and more, we need to devise calculated ways of giving back to the environment and to our future generations at large.

“Everything we build from now onwards has to be eco-sensitive, energy efficient, cost efficient, people centered and value based. Otherwise we will lose the game,” says Padma Shri-award winning architect G Shankar".

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When we talk about sustainability, we tend to think that it is about segregating our waste into degradable and non-degradable items, collecting the rainwater which otherwise flows into the drain and minimizing the use of non-renewable resources so as to have a pollution free environment. Believe me, there’s a lot more to living a sustainable life, it is about constantly being in harmony with our surroundings. Meanwhile devising ways which reduces the negative impact of our activities on the environment. Keeping in mind the three huge benefits of  sustainability  which are social, economical and environmental, let’s checkout ways which will inspire you to practise sustainable way of living by doing some minor changes to your home decor:

Sustainability for your Loved Ones.

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The first and the foremost takeaway from living a sustainable life is receiving a healthy lifestyle in return. Beyond protecting the planet by going green in choosing the home decor, a sustainable home ensures health benefits for your family. Like saying no to toxic paint colors and excessive air conditioning which directly harms the environment and in the long run affects your health. Today there is considerable evidence that being in contact with nature improves your mental health. Indoor plants, plenty of natural lighting, natural fabrics and earthy hues, all of them help relieve stress and help in uplifting the mood. Thus being close to green and natural products provide psychological, social and emotional benefits.

Give your house a second life

When we talk about recycling for the purpose of having a more sustainable home, intensive planning and sincere sorting purpose comes to our mind. But all the meticulous planning to recycle and reuse the things present in our homes gives a sense of being more responsible towards the environment.

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Below are a few suggestions which will encourage you to recycle:

  • Revamp that old tumbler or fruit basket to pot your favourite succulents in them.
  • All those egg cartons and tubes of kitchen towel rolls can be used for your kids weekend art project, so from next time before throwing them, plan an art and craft activity for your family.
  • Wondering what to do with those metal cans, try punching some holes in a way to create a design on them and use them as candle holders. This way you get to have a perforated candle holder which is perfect as a table centerpiece.
  • Often we throw away the lid of a container when the container or the jar gets broken, with some creativity you can turn them into quirky and oh so magnificent owls!
  • The next time you are planning to get rid of your old denim, think about the resources being used while creating it.To create just one pair of jeans 1,500 gallons of water is consumed. The synthetic indigo dye which is used for coloring it, has harmful effects on the environment.
    In order to opt for a more sustainable way to get rid of that jeans which have gone through wear and tear, act smartly and use your denim’s bottom as a placemat or simply create a cushion with your rugged denim for your garden bench. Also the table mats and runners made up of recycled jeans look so chic and have nostalgia attached to them, they fill your home decor with warmth.
  • If you have an old and a rustic bicycle lying in your backyard, then it’s time to innovate, fix a basket in front of it and pot a plant, keep the planter on the carrier and see the magic.
  • Have no idea what to do with those bulky sweaters which are a fad now, try sewing their arms together, insert a cushion from the neck area and tadaa ! a cozy seat for your pet is ready.
  • From converting spare tyres to furniture, using clothing tags as cute bookmarks, planting plants in styrofoam boxes instead of throwing them, to using broken teapots for creating inhouse mini gardens, the possibilities of recycling are limitless. All you need is some  intent for saving the planet, and you don’t have to worry about the creative skills to be the DIY maestro, there are thousands of ideas out there on home decor websites with simple instructions and pocket friendly products to help you to get started.

Basic yet versatile - Bamboo

Since time immemorial, humans are using bamboo as a building material all over the earth. With high tensile strength, good seismic resistance, low cost and being flexible it is being widely used in modern house constructions and home decor. What’s more, it grows extremely fast and is eco-friendly. Some of the ways in which you can use this renewable resource for styling your homes are:

  • Picture frames and items of wall decor give a different look and feel when framed using bamboo.
  • These days blinds made up of bamboo are in trend, they not only let enough of natural light in but also give you a pleasant aesthetic view, perfect for a minimalistic look.

bamboo baskets

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  • You can also capture the beauty of rich mustard color bamboo sticks, by simply keeping them in a glass vase. This piece of home decor will nicely go with your zen decor styled home and will be a break from otherwise long-stemmed flowers.
  • With handicrafts made up of bamboo or a small potted bamboo plant you can give a touch of mother nature to any corner of your house.
  • When you are looking to buy a new piece of furniture, look for options made up of bamboo. Whether it’s a bed, a table or a chair, furniture made up of bamboo is lightweight, durable and gives your home decor a chic look.

Neelam Manjunath, a Bengaluru-based architect has quoted -

 “When you buy cement, you are paying a corporation. When you buy bamboo, you are directly paying the farmer, who sell at these bazaars,” 

Hence in a broader perspective letting you give back to society with the choice of handicrafts for your home decor.

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By practicing sustainability and starting it with our home decor we can do our bit in protecting the planet. Your house can be futuristic yet the one which incorporates tremendous ways to achieve sustainability. Use of LED lightings, solar panels and home automation can be the first step towards a sustainable living. Also you can opt for  single wall mounted units for air conditioning rather installing central ducts, which cools the house even when it’s not needed and hence contributing to obnoxious greenhouse gases. When you begin sorting and dumping, think about what good  the object or piece of furniture being dumped can serve you more. 

For instance, the moment you are about to discard your wardrobe collection, breathe easy, and adorn your DIY hat to put those clothes back 

in use. Say a big ‘NO’ to anything made up of plastic, start with replacing plastic bottles with bottles made up of copper. Copper exhibits anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties which are a boon for health. Besides being a replenishable resource it is cheap and easiest to recycle.

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Make up your mind, to reuse, recycle and reduce and you’ll be surprised with your little contribution, healing the planet in a huge way. Do remember your house represents your entire personality, a house which is healing the planet in its own ways will resemble your compassionate side towards society. What’s more, the earthy tones, green and natural resources used while designing a sustainable home, will display its occupants modernity complimented by a contemporary feel.

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