I am currently working on a design for client who wants me to specify only sustainable, green, non-toxic furnishings for her home. This has been an incredible learning experience for me and I wanted to share some of the ways in which you too can start to move towards making your home more “green” and helping mother nature and your respiratory system at the same time.

My elevation for my client’s sustainable/non-toxic living room and dining room.

Going “green” is not a fad. It’s a movement toward protecting our valuable resources and creating healthier environments in our living spaces. It involves making socially, environmentally and health-responsible choices for ourselves and our communities. In interior design, going “green” means purchasing from and supporting companies who utilize sustainable resources to develop their products. According to the Sustainable Furnishings Council, this can include:

-Seeking legally logged wood from vendors who have a verifiable chain of custody

-Reducing unsustainable raw resources and known toxic substances in all phases of business

-Recycling in operations, purchasing recycled content and creating recyclable products

-Reducing and reusing packing/packaging materials and reducing transportation needs

-Educating customers on sustainability, and more.

Although going “green” is important, it’s not always easy to do. However, there are a few things that you can do right now (and moving forward) to begin going green in your home.

Buy from companies who are member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council. The Council has placed rigorous standards on its members, ensuring that they are moving toward or currently are making and selling products that are environmentally conscious. Look for the Sustainable Furnishings Council logo on the furnishings, accessories and textiles you purchase.

Parsons Dining Chairs and recycled light from Cisco Brothers Furniture, a member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council committed to producing sustainable, healthy furnishings for the home. http://www.ciscobrothers.com/seating/dining-chairs/parsons-chair

Double Happiness Large Writing Desk from Red Egg, an Asian-inspired case goods company that is a member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council and strives to make many of its products here in the USA. http://www.redegg.com/?p=634

Ask your favorite shopkeepers if they are currently sourcing or if they can start sourcing manufacturers who are members of the Sustainable Furnishings Council. Encourage them to join the council as well.

Reuse and recycle old furnishings. Consider giving that old piece a new life and a new look (with low or no-VOC paints and other green materials, of course). If you simply can’t find a home for it, consider donating it to Habitat Resource or another charity which can give it or sell it to someone who can reuse it.

Recycled beam and coffee table give interest and add patina to this modern space. Design by Confluence Studios, Photography by Sarah Natsumi Moore Photographers, http://www.houzz.com/photos/4707132/House-as-a-Home-industrial-living-room-austin

This up cycled coffee table adds so much interest and charm to this room. It looks high end with its painted details that give a new life to what would have been an old, outdated piece. Design by Willadsen Design, http://www.houzz.com/photos/1000785/Upcycled-Vintage-Furniture-eclectic-living-room-atlanta

Check the label. Take the time to learn what furnishings and accessories you are considering for you home are actually made of. Many mainstream home furnishings resources like West Elm and Crate and Barrel are taking steps towards becoming more sustainable. These companies will describe the materials and processes by which their furnishings are made in the details and specifications sections of their website. Take time to learn about the various materials and products used in the furnishings and how they are or are not sustainable. The more you know, the better you will be able to make decisions that positively impact the environment and your home and family.

Luxe Slipcovered Chair by Crate and Barrel: http://www.crateandbarrel.com/luxe-slipcovered-swivel-glider/s260067

By products made in the USA. If nothing else, attempt to purchase products that are manufactured in the USA. This reduces the amount of natural resources required to ship an item from a foreign country to the United States. It also helps ensure work opportunities for Americans and stimulates our economy.