Updated: Mar 5, 2022
Climate has drastically changed over the recent years, and now more than ever, we need to educate ourselves and incorporate new habits into our consumerism. So how do we easily achieve conscious consumption?
We could do many things to change the way we purchase products and, in that way, increase our health and Earth's well-being. But this time, I would like us to talk about Eco-Friendly materials, why are they so important, and how to incorporate them into our shopping habits.
What is an Eco-Friendly Material?
Simply put, an Eco-Friendly material is a type of material that is not harmful to the environment, produces minimal waste and can be easily recycled.
It is also important to mention that reusing once loved items is one of the best things you could do to avoid creating additional waste and live more sustainably.
23 Eco-Friendly Materials For The Greener Home
Don't let the label distract you. Apart from asking yourself who made the product, perhaps you should also add - what is it made from? Here are the most Eco-friendly materials to help lower your carbon footprint:
1. Sheep's Wool
Sheep's wool is a sustainable, recyclable and quickly renewable material. Wool products are more durable and require less maintenance. You will usually find it in products like rugs, bedding, mattresses, throw blankets, furniture covers and for upholstery. Find sheep's wool homeware in these shops: Woolroom, Etsy, Snoozel, Wool Couture, Hicks & HICKS.
2. Plant-Based Polyurethane Rigid Foam
Manufactured from materials like kelp, hemp, and bamboo and it doesn't contain any chemicals. It has its use in insulation and furniture. Find a list of Sustainable Furniture Brands here.
3. Reclaimed Wood
Using reclaimed lumber decreases the demand for a new source. If harvested responsibly, reclaimed wood is a renewable resource that significantly reduces landfill waste. You can shop reclaimed wood furniture on Etsy, Nkuku, Wearth London.
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Bamboo grows back quickly within only 3-5 years. It is 100% biodegradable, antibacterial and Eco-friendly if not chemically processed. Bamboo is used for making bedding, furniture, lighting, bathroom mat, home accessories and etc. My favourite shops for bamboo homeware - Etsy, Natural collection, Sostrene Grene.
Felt is a low-impact and utterly biodegradable material. It has its use in making drapes, baskets, rugs and furniture. Shop felt rugs, bathroom mats and storage baskets at bombinate.com.
6. Recycled steel
Recycled steel eliminates the enormous amount of energy, waste and emissions when extracting the iron ore, coal and limestone used for creating the material. Did you know that making a steel can from recycled material uses 75% less energy than producing items from their raw form?
Check out Ziito.co.uk for sustainable industrial furniture pieces.
Jute takes between 4-6 months to grow. An efficient renewable material source like bamboo - jute absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen much faster than trees. It's commonly used for rugs and storage baskets. You can find some beautiful pieces on Etsy.
8. Organic Cotton
Organic Cotton is grown without pesticides, herbicides or other chemical fertilisers. It has a massive benefit to our health and the environment. It is commonly used for bedding, rugs, baskets, kitchen cloths, towels etc. Shop eco mattress on snoozelgreen.com.
9. Natural stone
Natural stone offers durability and minimum maintenance. It is a versatile material often used for lighting, kitchenware, flooring, counter tops, home accessories, bathroom and etc. If you fancy the luxurious marble light pull, you can get on Etsy.
Made from tree bark - Quercus suber, cork is one of the highly renewable and eco-friendly resources. There is no need to cut down a tree to obtain cork, only the bark gets stripped to harvest the cork, and the tree continues to grow. A fantastic green buoyant material has its purpose in building ceiling panels, acoustic walls, home accessories and flooring. Get the Cork Planters on Etsy.
11. Recycled CDs (RE-CD)
RE-CD is hard-wearing, easily manufacturable and resistant material. It consists of recycled discarded old CDs, DVDs, games and software discs. Revive Innovations is doing a fantastic job turning CDs that would otherwise end up in landfill into stylish bar stools and coffee tables. Enjoy 10% off with coupon code VANJABARBUL at reviveinnovations.design.
12. Recycled Plastic
It might seem like an odd one to have on the list, but recycled plastic is a durable and robust material. Reusing plastic is so important when it comes to cleaning up polluted landfill. Weaver Green is doing a fantastic job at turning plastic bottles into textiles and rugs. This cosy herringbone blanket is made from up to 300 recycled plastic bottles. How awesome is that?
13. Organic Linen
The ultimate natural fibre keeps you cool on the hottest of summer days, but it is also one of the most environmentally sustainable fibres. Widely used for tablecloths, bedding, towels and textiles in general. Get the organic linen cloth on Etsy.
Hemp has low carbon emissions on its own and can capture carbon emissions from the atmosphere. It's the type of material known for ageing well; the more you use it, the softer it becomes. You'll find hemp in rugs, curtains, bedding etc. Shop the rug on nkuku.com.
15. Natural latex
Natural latex (known as rubber) comes from a rubber tree. It's a highly renewable, vegan and biodegradable material. Similarly to harvesting cork, rubber trees are also not cut down during the process. Commonly used for mattresses, toppers and pillows. Snoozel Green sets the perfect example with its Eco-Friendly mattress made from natural latex, organic cotton and organic wool.
16. Sustainable Wood
Sustainable wood comes from sustainably managed forests where forest stewards manage the landscape to prevent environmental damage. It's another extremely versatile material, perfect for making all sorts of furniture and accessories. If you're interested in unique sustainable furniture, a few makers to look at - Tom Raffield, Edward Johnson, Fuzl, Twisted Loom, Adventures in Furniture, Pete Hill.
17. Eco-Friendly Paper
Nearly 4 billion trees or 35% of the total trees cut around the world are used in paper industries on every continent. Luckily there are various Eco-Friendly alternatives like recycled paper, llama poo paper, elephant poo paper, bamboo, kenaf, hemp, and jute. Check out Natural Collection for Eco-Friendly paper options.
18. Vegan Leather
This is a tricky one. If made from natural resources like pineapple leaves, apple peels and cork, vegan leather undoubtedly falls under environmentally friendly materials. The type of vegan leather to avoid is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It's not biodegradable and can also be harmful to your health.
19. Recycled Glass
Burning discarded waste produces air pollution, water and land pollution. Recycling uses significantly less energy in the manufacturing process. It is a much more energy and water-efficient way of making materials. Glass is one of those materials that can be endlessly recycled with no loss of quality. Get the cake dome at nkuku.com.
Ceramic is generally made from clay, earthen elements, powders, and water. It is a type of product that can last a lifetime, and it is one of the most natural materials you can use in your home interior. Learn more about Lydia and her work here.
One of the most affordable Eco-friendly materials, seagrass is a natural plant, which makes it very green biodegradable option. Seagrass is mostly used for making rugs, baskets, lighting and wall accessories. Get the handmade seagrass basket on Etsy.
Mushroom farming requires less land, energy and water than other agricultural practices. Emitting low amounts of carbon dioxide, mushrooms are certainly a sustainable option.
British furniture designer Sebastian Cox sets an example by turning mushroom mycelium into beautiful, environmentally friendly pieces.
Rattan is a naturally renewable palm that grows extremely fast, even up to 2cm per day, making it super easy to harvest. In addition, rattan is a completely environmentally friendly material when using a natural manufacturing process and finish. It is mostly used for making furniture and home accessorise. Get the Bali inspired pendant lights on Etsy.
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The Habit of Buying Green Products
Like any habit, it takes a bit of time and practice before it becomes a natural thing to do. First, you need to understand why is this important to you, then learn how to choose the right materials (hence the list), and only then you will slowly change the way you think about shopping.
And don't forget - do it because you want to, not because you feel the guilt. It took me a good few months to fully incorporate the habit of buying green.
Let us know in the comments below what was the most challenging change you incorporated so far.
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