How To Shop Sustainably For Household Staples

Furniture

If you are in the market for furniture and want to invest in sustainable furniture products, there are a few different elements to consider before you set off to find the perfect piece for your home. 

  1. The Furniture’s Material 

A furniture’s level of sustainability can highly depend on the materials from which the furniture is made. One way to tell if the material stretched across a piece of furniture is eco-friendly is to look at the source of the material. If the material is made from renewable, recyclable or non-toxic substances, there is a good chance it can be considered eco-friendly. Additionally, you can look at the production methods used to manufacture the material. If the production process of a particular material creates toxic pollution, leaves a large carbon foot print or has a negative social impact, it most likely was not sustainably made. Look for materials that have a small carbon footprint and that have a positive or neutral social impact, including fair trade and fair made materials.

2. The Finish On The Furniture

The finish on a piece of furniture is another way you can measure its level of sustainability. Finishes which use low toxic or non-toxic ingredients and that do not off-gas dangerous fumes are most likely eco-friendly. 

3. The Life Cycle Of The Furniture

Many large furniture brands will offer inexpensive furniture that has a short life cycle. This type of furniture is not considered sustainable, as they usually only last for a couple of years before they will end up in land fills. When shopping for sustainable furniture, consider how long the furniture will last. If the furniture product is reusable, recyclable or biodegradable, there is a high chance that it is considered to be a sustainable product.

4. The Durability Of The Furniture

In the same way that you should take the life cycle of a piece of furniture into consideration before purchasing, you should also consider its durability. Durable furniture will have a longer life cycle and is less likely to end up in a landfill.

Different types of furniture are made up of various components, where each component has the potential to be eco-friendly. Read below to learn more about these furniture parts and how you can ensure that every element of your new furniture was crafted with the health of the earth in mind.

Furniture Cushions

Polyurethane foam is the most common inner cushion material used in modern furniture. This material is made of a plastic polymer which contains methyloxirane and tolune. Both of these chemicals are toxic and carcinogenic and should be avoided if you are looking to invest in eco-friendly furniture pieces.

Instead of purchasing a sofa that is filled with polyurethane foam, look for cushions that contain natural materials. Natural rubber foam cushions are a sustainable option that are filled with sustainably sourced natural latex. You can also choose cushions that are filled with recycled metal coils or padding that is made from wool, coconut fiber, kapok, bamboo, or organic cotton. Be wary of the fiber lyocell. Although lyocell is marketed as being environmentally friendly, it actually requires heavy chemical processing and has been linked to deforestation. Down is another cushion material that may seem sustainable, but has links to animal welfare problems and slim regulation.

Furniture Fabrics

As with furniture cushions, furniture fabrics made from natural materials, such as organic cotton and linens, are a great sustainable option. Avoid purchasing furniture draped in synthetic fabrics, including petroleum-based polyester unless it is made using recycled bottles or fibers. Untreated fabrics are also a more eco-friendly type of fabric, as they have not been treated with stain and fire resistant chemicals which have been shown to cause health and environmental problems.

Furniture Frames

Furniture frames that are Forest Stewardship Council certified, reclaimed wood frames, salvaged wood frames and recycled steal are great sturdy and eco-friendly furniture frame options to choose from. Frames are built to support you and your loved ones as you relax on your furniture, so make sure the frame you buy will have a long life cycle.

Cabinets, Storage And Occasional Furniture Products

Because the majority of cabinets are made of wood, it is important to look for salvaged, reclaimed or Forest Stewardship Council certified woods when shopping for cabinetry and storage pieces. To find out whether or not the cabinets are low VOC, check the label or ask an associate at the store where you are shopping. Low or no VOC products do not put off toxic chemicals into your home.

Dining Room Furniture

The dining room is one of the easiest rooms in your home to shop for vintage furniture. Older dining tables and chairs were often made with more precision and care than today’s furniture and will last your family for years. If you do choose to purchase new furniture, steer clear of plastics including polyethylene, polyacrylates, and polycarbonates. Glass, certified wood, salvaged wood and metal are lasting and sustainable material options for your dining room furniture.

Clothing

The idea of sustainable fashion has been at the forefront of global conversation in recent years and for good reason. Shopping sustainably and avoiding “fast fashion” helps to cut back on the amount of pesticides that are released into the environment, reduces toxic waste, supports fair trade and animal rights and allows your shopping habits to have less of a negative impact on the planet’s resources. Read below to learn how you can begin shopping for your clothes in a way that is kind to the environment.

  1. Shop At Second-Hand Or Vintage Stores When Possible

Shopping for clothes that required no new fabrics during production is one of the best ways to practice sustainable clothes shopping. Essentially, you are helping to prevent these clothing items from ending up in a landfill. As an added bonus, shopping at second-hand stores is usually more economical.

2. Carry A Tote Bag

Reusable bags should not just be reserved for grocery shopping. In any instance, using reusable tote bags is always a great way to reduce your impact on the planet’s environment. When you go shopping for new or used clothing, take a few mesh or cotton reusable bags. This way you can help to cut down on your plastic consumption and help to reduce the ever growing issue of plastic waste in earth’s oceans and beyond.

3. Purchase Clothing Made Of Reusable Fibers Where Possible

Non-biodegradable materials, such as nylon and polyester, and materials including viscose that are treated with toxic chemicals during production should be avoided. Instead of purchasing clothing made of these synthetic fibers, choose products that are made from natural fibers, like linen and organic cotton. It takes less water to manufacture these more sustainable materials and they are also biodegradable. You can also look for a material called tencel. This sustainable fiber is made from wood that is sustainably sourced.

4. Learn How A Brand Packages And Delivers Their Products

Although online shopping is usually more convenient than walking into a brick and mortar store and rummaging through endless racks of clothing, shopping in person can actually be more eco-friendly. When you shop for clothes in person, you are helping to cut down on the CO2 emissions as your purchase travels to your home, However, if you do prefer to shop online instead of in person, there are some tweaks you can make to the way you shop online that will make the experience more eco-friendly.

Avoid Same Day, Next Day Or Two Day Delivery

When you are given the choice, choose slower shipping times to help reduce the environmental impact of the delivery. Doing this will help the shipping company to make sure their trucks are full of packages which means fewer trucks and fuel will be used.

Make Bulk Purchases Or Choose To Have Your Items Delivered In One Box

Instead of making multiple small online orders, try to make bigger purchases that can all be delivered at one time and in one box. This will cut down on packaging materials and also the fuel used by delivery trucks. 

Return Your Items In Store If Possible

It is more eco-friendly to return clothing items that you ordered online to a physical location instead of sending them back through the mail. Shipping back items can mean that the items are driven from warehouse to warehouse until they are finally sold to another buyer. When you return the item in person, that item will usually stay at that particular location until another shopper purchases it.

If you want an entirely eco-friendly shopping experience, it has become easy to find eco-conscious brand that use sustainable materials in their products, as well as sustainable delivery and return practices. Simply doing a quick online search for eco-conscious brands is a good way to find some new places to shop while also doing our planet a favor.

Household Items

Many of the items we use the most every day live with us in our homes. Because household products get so much use, it is a great idea to start shopping for eco-friendly home products to reduce your environmental impact. Read below to learn about some different eco-friendly items that you can purchase which will help you to practice sustainability in your home.

  1. Coffee Cups

When you are out and about and stop for a quick coffee at your local coffee shop, it is likely that your drink of choice will be poured into a single use coffee cup. Instead of using these single use coffee cups, bring your own cup for the barista to fill with your favorite drink. This helps to reduce large amounts of unnecessary waste. 

2. Water Bottles And Drink Accessories

Every year, Americans will throw thirty-five billion plastic water bottles in the garbage. These plastic water bottles can not only contain bisphenol A, or BPA, which is harmful to human health, but they will also end up in landfills, oceans and other natural environments where they are highly damaging. Instead of purchasing single use water bottles, choose a reusable stainless steel, glass or aluminum water bottle.

3. Recycled Toilet Paper

Purchasing recycled toilet paper has many benefits for earth’s environment. In fact, if every household in the United States replaced only one roll of traditional toilet paper with a roll of recycled toilet paper, about 425,000 trees would be saved each year. In addition to this benefit,

recycled toilet paper also helps to save water and reduces carbon emissions when it is made out of materials such as recycled paper fibers, bamboo and sugarcane.

4. Reusable Sandwich Containers

When packing your child’s school lunch, it can be easy to throw their turkey sandwich in a plastic baggie and send them on their way. However, using one of these plastic bags daily can substantially contribute to unnecessary waste. Instead of opting for plastic bags, choose a reusable, and ideally BPA free, sandwich container.

5. Bath Towels

Most bath towels are made from either cotton or cotton-polyester materials. While these materials are not detrimental to earth’s environment, there are more eco-friendly towel options on the market. Towels which are made of natural fibers are grown using less pesticides and synthetic fertilizers than traditional cotton towels. As an added bonus, organic towels are many times hypoallergenic, anti-microbial and non irritating to the skin. When shopping for new towels for your home, look for towels made from bamboo, hemp and organic cotton.

6. Recycled Handle Toothbrush

The average toothbrush handle is made from plastic and because it is recommended that we invest in a new toothbrush every three months, much of this plastic will end up in landfills. To reduce your contribution to plastic waste, purchase a toothbrush with a handle that is made of recycled materials, such as bamboo.

If you are looking to shop smarter and commit to a more sustainable lifestyle at home, we hope that these tips will help you to achieve your goal of increasing your use of eco-friendly products.

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