Most of us are in the throes of working out how we can help the environment in our day to day living with watering our garden, saving water in showers and looking at the energy rating in our homes. If you are building a new home it is much easier to look at creating a five-star energy efficient home but what can we do if we aren’t building a new home?
When we are decorating our home or just giving a fresh look to we can still make a difference by the choices that we make.
Painting – When choosing paint you can add 2 stars to your home by painting all with low VOC paint. This means paint that has minimal or no fumes, is water based and doesn’t emit harmful substances into the environment.
Dulux have been looking at water-based solutions since 1990 and through this you have products that are safe for the environment on your walls, floors, timberwork and outdoor.
Look at their range from EnvirO2, Aquanamel, EnviroPro and Endure. Wattyl introduced the Wattyl i.d. range in the past few years and has been recognised, as Dulux, to contribute to your green star status
Sustainable living has to do with how you make choices on new purchases. There are many fabric companies with this in mind creating fabrics made from recycled materials such as recycled polyester and using natural materials like cotton and wool that make minimal impact on the environment when processed.
In the commercial industry this has been at the forefront at an Australian company called Green Living. They have been looking at the technology of their processing for many years and offset emissions for their delivery and production. Visit www.greenliving.com.au to see what they are creating and how their philosophy guides what they produce.
Eco-friendly furniture can already be found in your timber furniture. But be aware if the timber has originally been treated with gas emitting chemicals and what type of surface coatings they are finished with. This doesn’t mean you only have to use timber in your furnishings you can use any that have been made from recycled material.
Shamburg + Alyisse design modern furniture from timber but also recycled plastics from computers and telephones. Of course the best way to have recycled furniture is to search through your op-shops and e-bay and breathe new life into pre-loved pieces.
Bamboo – If looking at a new surface with durability then bamboo is making its voice heard. This is a renewable resource that is harvested on farms, is hard wearing, has good floor insulation and sound proofing as well.
Floorboards – This has always been a favourite but its what you put on top of it that counts. Like all raw floor surfaces they need to be sealed and sometimes glued so it is important to check for non-toxic finishes that are water based or natural based like wax.
Carpet- We have all known that carpet is best but even more so now as it is the only soft floor covering that is natural in its contents so try to lean away from polyester and fibre blended carpets.
Look at the globes you have in the home, just by changing all your tungsten (bulb lamps) to energy saving globes you will reduce your lighting bill as well as the gases emitted into the environment.
In summer we all know the benefits of closing our curtains from the west sun but the best way is to stop the heat before it hits the windows. Having an outdoor blind system as well as indoor blinds or curtains will keep the home a lot cooler and reduce the amount of energy you use by turning on the fans and the air-conditioning.
To be even more energy savvy use outdoor blinds that provide some light to come through. Using a ‘sun-screen’ fabric stops the sunlight but also lets enough light through during the day so reduces the amount of lights you need to turn on.
We have a choice of how we decorate our homes in the types of furniture so when it is time to purchase do your research on companies that are making a difference in the materials they use and the greenhouse off-set programme for their industry to help you create a home that is liveable for now – and the future. You could even make your house extra sustainable and build a greenhouse and grow fruit and vegetables in your garden. Make sure to get some spare greenhouse glass though as it is easily damaged.
By making enquiries when you are purchasing will make companies take notice of what the consumer is expecting. Visit www.sustainability.vic.gov.au for more tips and ideas on how you can create a green-star home.
By Shaynna Blaze-Vaughan