We've finally gotten the hang of sorting our recycling, stopped relying on plastic cups and straws, and always drink out of reusable water bottles. But there's so much more to be done to protect the planet, and an easy place to start is at home, where we have the most control. But where to begin? Making our homes as sustainable as possible feels daunting, especially when we're not in a position to pimp the place out with solar panels and double-glazed windows. But fear not — there are plenty of smaller ways to ensure we're doing the most we can for Mother Earth.
Stop using paper towels.
"Whenever I go to estate sales I look for old dish towels to buy instead of using paper towels in our home. They usually cost about 25 cents, so I don’t mind if they get stained or ruined in the process," shares Havenly senior designer Leah Bopf.
Wait until you have hit a certain number of items in your Amazon or Instacart before hitting the buy button.
"Shopping trips have historically fallen into three types: mid-week fill in, weekly, and monthly stock-up trips," says Terry Lin, cofounder and chief design officer of sustainable outdoor furniture company, Outer. "With the rise of 1-2 day free shipping, we have been conditioned to expect on-demand everything. We oftentimes don’t think twice about placing an order of one low-cost item and having it shipped because shipping is often included. Before you go ahead and hit the buy button, consider the carbon footprint of picking, packing, and shipping. Rather than placing multiple orders a week, pick one day where you place your online orders to cut down on overuse of supplies."
Make everything old new again.
"Repurpose and upcycle are two very common words in my vocabulary," says Havenly senior designer Lyndsi Lee. "Example: I recently outgrew the style of a sideboard in my kitchen. So I took a hammer, popped off the top and replaced it with some barn wood left over from a recent demo. Then I mixed paint colors that I had lying around from various projects and mixed them together until I had the perfect hue. Roughed it up with some sandpaper and viola! It is now my favorite piece in the house."
Invest in smart technology.
“One way I have found to cut down on waste within my home is by incorporating smart technology in the home to save energy and money. Cutting down on waste is more than eliminating just the physical objects," suggests NYC-based interior designer Laurence Carr. "For my home, I use Molekule, a sleek, modern, portable air purifier, designed to filter dust, dander, toxins, and more. Connected to your iPhone or Android, this must-have piece of smart technology offers the foundation for the perfect work environment. The addition of plants also enhances air quality and brings in elements of Biophilia, adding to our sense of wellbeing at home."
Dine by candlelight.
Interior designer Tina Ramchandani suggests "dining by candlelight instead of with many lights on," which she says "cuts down on energy waste."