Q. Hey Mackenzie. What are the best materials to incorporate for an eco-friendly home and how/where? I recently ate at a restaurant with all re-purposed floors from an old barn. What are other examples of incorporating re-purposed materials in the home?
-Sandra (Sonoma, CA)
A. Thanks for your question, Sandra! Today there are an endless supply of products available that claim to be “eco-friendly” or “natural.” The green movement is wonderful, but you really have to do your research to find out if a product actually is an eco-friendly product. There is no simple answer that applies all of the time. For example, did you know that products labeled “free range” don’t actually require that the animal was ever outdoors? Meat labeled “natural” is allowed to contain artificial ingredients. This is the mixed up world we live in and it can be tough to navigate what is truly eco-friendly.
The information we have about what is green is constantly evolving and gets very complex. Luckily, there are some third party agencies (that means they don’t make money off of the product) that help to certify certain products so we know they meet certain environmental standards. For example:
- Wood should be Forest Stewardship Council certified (FSC-certified).
- Food and cotton fabric products should be United States Department of Agriculture Certified (USDA- certified).
-Appliances should be Energy Star certified.
-Greenguard is a certification system for building materials, furniture, furnishings, finishes, cleaning products, electronics, and consumer products that ensures they do not emit toxins.
- LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council ensures that buildings, both residential and commercial, meet the strictest environmental standards.
When it comes to products for your home, the Green Home Guide launched by the U.S. Green Building Council is a really thorough source of information for any product you are considering putting in your home. Visit www.greenhomeguide.com to get your questions answered by a sustainability expert. Consumer Reports also has www.greenerchoices.org to try to help you sort out who is being honest about their eco-friendly product claims.
Along with certification, you want to use common sense. For example, an antique mill stone might be the perfect repurposed, environmentally friendly garden decor… unless it is in England right now and needs shipped across the ocean. At that point, the repurposing ceases to be eco-friendly. Also, make sure that the product makes sense in the environment where you live. Don’t plant a green roof in Arizona where it will require millions of gallons of water to be moved from other states to grow your organic basil on site.
Let’s start with some inspiration. Here are some of my favorite out-of-the box ideas for repurposing:
You may not be moving into a repurposed shipping container any time soon, but you can certainly do your part for sustainability by buying products that are eco-consious.
Here are some of my favorite eco-friendly and repurposed products:
***I would love some feedback from my readers! Do you have any suggestions for great eco-friendly products? Do you have any suggestions about living a “greener” lifestyle? If so, PLEASE share them in the comments section of this post! Thanks!!