So here’s the thing: as a design professional I truly believe that I have a responsibility to know how recommendations I make to homeowners impact the environment. But at the same time there is way too much marketing hype going on right now about being “green” or “sustainable”. I fear that this is a turn off to many people, which got me thinking about how a lot of us that are not so into the idea of “going green” may in fact be living pretty sustainably on accident. Why would I think that? Because some of the most environmentally responsible actions you can take for your living environment are attractive for other reasons. Here are three simple questions you can ask yourself to know if you have in fact “gone green” on accident.
|A condo or apartment is the ultimate "green" home because dense housing minimizes environmental impact.|
#1 Are you living in a tent in the woods OR an apartment/loft/condo/townhouse in the city?
There are two ways to lessen the impact of your home on the natural environment: You can either live in a small tent in the woods, or you can live in a densely built environment where you and your closest neighbors live in one building, thereby each having a smaller impact on the land and consuming less resources than you would if you and your neighbors each had a big house with a big lawn. (To know what the environment would look like if you each had a big house with a big lawn, catch a ride beyond the limits of your city into the land known as suburbia.) Of course, there are many other reasons to want to live in places like New York, Chicago, Seattle, Austin … Living in a city is cool because there are a lot of people and things to do. Us designer types also like the architecture. Regardless of your reasons, if you live in a city with dense housing, you may also be living green without any effort whatsoever.
#2 Do you own anything made out of bamboo, cork or reclaimed materials?
|Furniture designers are using reclaimed and renewable materials as inspiration for design innovation.|
The sustainability trend has led to some super cool uses of materials that we didn’t used to see on the marketplace very often. Bamboo and cork are both considered “rapidly renewable resources" because they can grow back quickly after being cut down, in contrast to the old-school trees used to make wood products. But even if you’re not trying to be green, bamboo is an awesome looking finish for floors, table tops, cabinets and whatever else you can think of. Cork absorbs sounds and is often used as a “quiet” flooring material but it also has antimicrobial properties that make it work well in kitchen as either flooring or countertops. For wine lovers, collections of recycled wine corks can be made into decorative countertops or backsplashes. Of course, the unique look of cork makes it work in any room in the house – as in in-lay in furniture pieces, as a cabinet finish and more. There is also a growing list of cool looking recycled and reclaimed materials. Case in point: the Kirei Mod coffee table by Iannone Design. This modern design masterpiece uses reclaimed sorghum stalks (a.k.a Kirei) to create a beautiful, unique finish that is sure to wow both your friends and your mom.
#3 Do you like to feel the sun’s warmth on cold days and a natural breeze on warm days?
(Warning: If you answered “no” to this question, something may be seriously wrong with you.)
While the sustainability marketing hype likes to use cute phrases like “Go Green to Make Green!” (meaning you’ll save money by saving energy), the truth is that old-fashioned ways of warming and cooling your house are often the best because they don’t rely on technology and all. For sure, turning off the lights when you leave a room, buying Energy Star appliances, etc. is environmentally responsible, even if you are just trying to save some cash so you have more to spend when out with friends. Even better is opening the windows to cool your house on breezy days and closing the blinds to avoid heat gain on hot days. Did you know that opening the blinds on cold but sunny days can allow for something called “passive solar heat gain”? Yep, the desire to feel the sun’s rays on a cold day is totally sustainable because it may also help you use less heat from your furnace. And now that I have used some technical language you can be confident that I actually know what I'm talking about.
|Managing the temperature of your house through windows and shades is as beneficial as using energy-efficient appliances.|
Did you answer “yes” to one or more of the above questions? If you answered yes to just one question, then you might still be on the fence. But if you answered yes to two or more of these questions, you have definitely gone green on accident!
This post was written by Katie.