Updated: Feb 6
What is Sustainable Home?
Sustainability on its own is defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. A sustainable home is designed to be environmentally sustainable through its renewable energy sources and maximising natural features. It is beneficial in both the short and long term.
I’m sure, some of you out there may be confused about the whole concept of sustainability and I don’t blame you. There is so much to take in with all the suggestions, overwhelming stats and facts on how to be sustainable. In this article, I will break it down step by step on how to create a sustainable home, where you’ll end up with practical budget friendly solutions you can implement straight away.
How To Make Your Home More Sustainable On The Budget
Now that we have the basics covered, it's time to move on to the next big step and help you get through the whole transitioning process where you'll end up with a beautiful, healthy and sustainable home you deserve. Each step no matter how small has a big impact on healthier present and brighter future, so thank you for doing it.
Simple things you could do to make your home more sustainable:
Upcycle Old Furniture
Upcycle old pieces of furniture and give them a new life. If you don’t know how to DIY, take it to your local handyman. You could also buy furniture from your local sustainable furniture maker. Sustainable furniture is made from recyclable material with the intention to last a long lifetime. By doing it locally it reduces CO2 emissions produced by transport, you are supporting small businesses and the local economy.
You will also more often than not find an original high-quality piece that will last you years to come. Having sustainable long-lasting furniture in your home is something that is extremely beneficial to your health and it’s economical in the long run.
Repurpose Decorative Pieces
Get your cup of coffee (in a reusable cup ;) and start exploring your local thrift stores. It will save you tons of money, but you could also potentially stumble upon some rare finds and there you have it - affordable and unique decor. As they say one man's trash another man's treasure.
Before getting rid of anything take a good look around your home, if you could maybe re-purpose the piece. My old ice bucket is now a flower pot and guess what - my friends keep asking me where did I get the "pot" from). If you are planning on buying new home decor, maybe check out some of the finest UK's Local Homeware Makers with a great ethos.
Opt For Sustainable Materials
When choosing sustainable materials it helps if you think: ecological, natural, durable, reusable and recyclable. Factors to consider — a greater awareness of and sensitivity towards the world’s limited natural resources, growing demand for healthier, more energy-efficient and environmentally responsible homes (source).
Sustainable materials like cork, bamboo, FCS-certified timber and many more are a perfect alternative. They will age gracefully and eventually become a part of your home’s history. Just by selecting the right materials, it will help you create a much happier and more sustainable home all round. It will also eventually have a positive impact on your mindset and everyday decision-making process altogether (every little matter).
Surround yourself with real instead of fake plants and here is why: "They emit negative ions which not only help reduce airborne microorganisms but give us euphoric feeling." - Dr Wolverton. Once the plants were introduced to the environment, it showed that the air quality was significantly higher with most of the VOCs being removed. (source)
Vertical gardening is a fantastic way to grow your own green friends and get a better air quality, maximise space usage, reduce noise levels, achieve better temperature balance and grow better quality produce (if you are growing vegetables/herbs the right way).
How Important are Indoor Plants and How to Choose The Right Ones → All You Need To Know About Indoor Vertical Gardening →
Opt For Sustainable Alternatives
Try to reuse what you already have and in that way minimise what goes back to the landfill. Before you rush into replacing any items, see if you could come up with some simple DIY tricks and update the piece (in many cases a fresh coat of paint works wonders). There are plenty of sustainable alternatives you could get that will save you money and generate less waste:
cotton table cloth
glass water bottle
use glass jars from yogurt/sauces for plants or spices
organic wool dryer balls
biodegradable lunch box.
Clean Your Home With Natural Non-Toxic Products
This is probably one of the most economical solutions you could apply to your home. Even if you're not someone who enjoys cleaning too much, making your own natural cleaning products could definitely bring some fun to it. Things you could easily DIY: soap, laundry detergent, carpet cleaner, moth repellent, bathroom disinfectants etc. I recently read a wonderful book: "The Art of Natural Home" by Rebecca Sullivan and she has some really cool ideas on how to make your own natural products mostly with the stuff you already have or can easily get from a supermarket.
It’s always a good idea to be economical and kind whenever possible. Take a look around your home and get all the things you didn’t use in the past 2 years and gather in one room. I bet you will be surprised by how many things you accumulated. You could donate or resell and make someone happy.
Use a selling app for your local area and offer it to your neighbours first (reducing CO2 emissions). If the items are not in good enough condition many charity shops have recycling centres. You could maybe organise a DIY event with your friends, bring unwanted items and make it a fun project. You might end up with some really cool pieces at the end.
Take Time When Choosing Your Design Style
Before making any major decorating decisions it’s worth spending at least a few years in your home till you don’t get the feel about what goes well and how you use the space on a daily bases. Be inspired but not led by trends, because at the end of the day your space is a natural projection of our mind and it should represent your true self. To help you move forward I’ve put together a guide on how to choose a design style perfect for you.
Get Inspired with Sustainable Home Styling Ideas →
Choose Green Energy
Switching to green renewable energy sources or buying energy-efficient appliances is definitely something that will pay off in a few years time. Meanwhile, maximise the natural light. It will increase sustainability by producing electricity for your home, creating a healthier, happier and comfortable environment.
You will see some savings big time in your utility bills just by having good doors and windows with the air-tight insulation and maximising sunshine that comes in.
Say No To New Plastic
Not only is plastic harmful to the environment, but it can also be detrimental to your health.
Plastic items take up to 1000 years to decompose in landfills, whilst plastic bags we use in our everyday life take 10-20 years to decompose and plastic bottles take 450 years.
It was like a wake-up call one day when my husband was about to get the rubbish out and he was holding two full large bin bags filled with plastic, turned towards me and asked: “How come we produced this much waste?” It definitely wasn’t the first time I saw it, but it was the first time I really noticed it and made me think.
That day I literally went through the whole apartment to check how much plastic is really there. Starting from the fridge, then the bathroom and the list goes on. Wow…I was stunned! But where do you start? I really think the best way is to take one step at the time. For me, it was the way I do grocery shopping. Ever since I always carry a reusable Eco-friendly tote bag with me. It fits in your pocket and It’s super convenient.
I know it might sound silly but when a cashier asked me if I need a bag and I said “No thank you, I’ve got one”, it felt so good. You gotta start somewhere, right? :) Next goal was to buy only seasonal fruits and veg that are either package free or in a recyclable alternative.
Sustainable Home Benefits
Sustainable living, no matter how small or big steps you take, it affects three areas - economic, social and environment. Just by knowing the fact that we spend 90% of our lives indoors, makes it even more important to do these changes towards more sustainable and healthier home.
Sustainable home equals:
Reduced environmental footprint.
Energy and water efficiency.
Less natural resource depletion and pollution.
Optimised and lower living costs in the long run.
Efficient use of space.
A sustainable home is easier to maintain.