A Green Home is a Chic Home: Eco-Friendly Interior Design
Most of us have heard of green or eco-friendly interior design, but not everyone understands exactly what that means.
Green or eco-friendly interior design focuses on improving indoor air quality as well as reducing the impact that furniture purchases have on the environment.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that most Americans spend approximately 90% of their time indoors, where the concentrations of some pollutants are often two to five times higher than typical outdoor concentrations. Since so much of our time is spent indoors, it’s imperative that we pay close attention to the products that we bring into our homes.
The Enemy-VOC’s or Volatile Organic Compounds. These are chemicals that off-gas into the air, some of which have harmful long-term health effects.
Here are a few ways you can stave off these pesky, hazardous to your health chemicals.
1. Paint. Choose low-VOC or no-VOC paints and primers. We like Benjamin Moore’s Natura (Zero-VOC) and Ben (Low-VOC) lines, which are available in any of their wide range of colors and do not compromise the performance of the paint.
2. Furniture. Opt for furniture made from solid woods such as walnut, maple, oak, teak, or reclaimed wood. Wood furniture is typically constructed using basic wood joinery techniques. This type of construction ensures a stronger bond and requires less adhesive products, which are the main culprits in harmful VOC emissions.
You should avoid furniture made out of MDF or particleboard, which is made from compressed shavings or sawdust and is held together by synthetic resins, glues and binding agents. One of the ingredients commonly found in many of these adhesives is formaldehyde, which can cause wheezing, nausea, severe allergic reactions and has been shown to cause cancer in animals.
3. Upholstered Goods. When selecting upholstered furniture for your home skip the flame retardants and go for organic materials. Most standard upholstered goods are made from polyurethane foam wrapped in dacron, also known as polyethylene terephthalate, or PET’s . Both materials are man-made and petroleum-based. They contain the chemicals isocyanates and polyols that are highly flammable and are treated with flame-retardant chemicals to reduce combustibility. The chemicals in these flame retardants have been linked to a wide range of health problems such as impaired fertility and IQ and developmental problems in children.
4. Carpeting and Area Rugs. Choose natural fibers such as wool, cotton, or jute over synthetics. Wool is naturally fire retardant unlike its artificial counterparts, which are more prone to flammability. Additionally, wool absorbs moisture and captures dust or pollen, thus reducing humidity and allergens in the air.
Synthetic rugs are often made from polyester, nylon, or acetate. These man-made fibers are highly flammable and are often treated with synthetic chemicals to reduce flammability, increasing the amount of toxins off-gassing into your home. If you, or someone in your family is particularly sensitive to chemicals or odors, off-gassing from newly installed synthetic carpets and rugs can be potent and may cause headaches, dizziness, or nausea.
5. Add Plants. Plants not only look good, they keep your home healthy too. Ferns, ivy, spider plants and mother-in-law’s tongue all absorb CO2 and a variety of toxins in the home.
Make some of these changes or additions and breathe easier knowing that your home is safer for you and your family.