By now, most of us know terms like fair trade, sustainable, and eco-friendly. But how to recognize these elements when equipping our homes can be a little tricky.
Enter Sarit Marcus, interior designer and consultant, who created Minted Space, an online sustainable home furnishing store with a focus on how to go about it. She’s taking her family from Tampa to Siesta Key and has shared photos of her new eco-friendly space, plus tips on how to start your own without cutting back on style.
Only a short time ago, shopping for household items with such a sustainable mindset was an amazing feat.
“When my family and I moved to the area three years ago, it was important to me to buy eco-friendly products,” says Marcus. “But it wasn’t easy, and for most people, that can be a deterrent. When you can’t find what something is made of. What it takes so long, you will only buy the status quo.”
That’s why she started her online store, where it’s easy and elegant.
“Sometimes, when people hear the term ‘eco-friendly,’ they think of hippie aesthetics and don’t think it looks stylish. But you can have a look without hemp or jute!” she says.
From ceiling lighting to floor coverings to all the furniture and decor in between, nearly every piece in her Siesta Key home is sustainable or fair trade, made from natural, reclaimed and recycled materials.
The entryway chandelier is made of recycled gold-plated wine bottles and has LED bulbs. Sustainable furniture is made of eco-friendly materials. FSC-certified reclaimed timber is used throughout the house; bedding from sustainable sources; Recycled polyester rugs absent are the use of slow-growing woods.
And the pieces aren’t as expensive or exclusive as they used to be.
“I’m seeing more and more big names introducing an environmentally friendly filter in their online stores,” Marcus says. “About 10 years ago, it was much more expensive, even for LED lighting. But today I can say that eco-friendly products may have about 10 percent more of an alternative.”
Tips on how to make your home greener.
Avoid the “dangerous bunch” that are toxic and harmful to the environment and people. They are fluorinated stain treatments – often used to “stain protection” sofas and furniture; Flexible polyurethane foam (PFA) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which are often used in the manufacture of outdoor furniture, but take many years to degrade; Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are common in paint and which, once applied, release toxins into the air; flame retardants, which are often found in mattresses; and furniture that contains medium-density fibreboard (MDF), which often contains toxic formaldehyde in its adhesives. Ideally, do not buy polyester either, because it is made of plastic. “It doesn’t contain toxins, but it doesn’t biodegrade,” Marcus says.
Enter the outdoors. “Think houseplants, add natural light sources with skylights, and install living walls inside the house,” Marcus says.
Choose energy-saving devices With “Energy Star” certification to reduce your consumption. Water Sense is another term for water-saving technology when shopping for bathroom and kitchen fixtures.
Wool, cotton, flax, hemp and jute are natural fibers that require less water for production than their synthetic counterparts. When that’s not an option for sofas or chairs, look for materials that include recycled polyester and nylon rather than virgin materials.
Choose wood from sustainable sources so you don’t contribute to deforestation. Mango and rubberwood are environmentally friendly because the trees grow back quickly. As well as pine wood, bamboo, straw, reeds and seagrass. Avoid slow-growing woods such as oak, teak, and mahogany, which are unsustainable because they take a long time to mature. “If you buy oak, look for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, so you know it’s sustainably made,” Marcus says.
Use LED lights. “It’s 90 percent more efficient,” Marcus says. And choose solar-powered outdoor lighting.