Sustainable Home Ideas
Sustainable Home Ideas
Reuse and Recycle
Interior designer Kari Whitman scours antiques stores, flea markets, and clients' existing inventory before even thinking about buying new furniture. "The craftsmanship is often better in older pieces," Whitman says. "For Jessica Alba's house we bought almost every piece used."
Shop Vintage and Eco-friendly
Amber Valletta collaborated with designer Ross Cassidy to create a home that was both stylish and had a small carbon footprint. "I remember being in New York 20 years ago and talking about climate change. That’s just part of who I am."
To accomplish their green goals, the duo used vintage fabrics and furniture, un-dyed linens,
low-chemical paint, solar panels and natural fibers. The resulting space is a collage of textures, bright colors, art, and light. “There’s a sense of playfulness here,” said Valletta. “I wanted a home that’s fun, not fussy.” Tour Valletta's green home here.
Start with Accessories
You don't have to renovate your whole house to go green. Whitman surfs the Web for stylish and affordable home accents, like these colorful waste baskets made out of recycled potato chip wrappers ($36; btcelements.com). She also suggests checking out eco-furniture.com and uncommongoods.com, which sell wine glasses made from old windshields and organic linens.
Skip the Shag
"Go for wood floors and rugs instead of carpeting," says Whitman, who credits Bamboo Flooring Hawaii as a great resource for clean materials. "Most carpeting is made from nonorganic fibers and it can get so dirty and hold in dust and various toxins." Whitman suggests using area throws in sisal, jute, or even cork. "You can also get outdoor rugs of recycled plastic or old tennis balls that are great," she says.
At left: Plush carpets protect the plank floors in Alba's bedroom.
Protect Your Pets
Don't forget your furry friends when making eco-smart design choices. Canines rest easier too when protected from environmental irritants. Greener Pup dog beds ($36-$50; greenerpup.com), designed by Whitman, are crafted from durable, comfortable, and safe fibers.
Choose a Saltwater Pool
"Saltwater has fewer toxins, it's softer on skin, and it won't cause red eyes, itchiness, or green hair!" says Whitman, who used one of the systems on Alba's pool, at left. Another reason the designer is a big fan: "The salt keeps pools clean and algae-free without chemicals, as these systems clean and monitor themselves." While they may cost more upfront, Whitman says they require much less maintenance-a big savings over time.
Green Your Cleaners
"I am obsessed with Mrs. Meyer's cleaning products," Whitman says. The all natural and biodegradable line includes fragrant household supplies as well as environmentally-friendly cleaners for babies and pets. "My favorite scent is lavender, but I also like lemon and gardenia," the decorator says.
Save Water, Go Faux
For Whitman (at left), synthetic turf is a long term commitment to saving water and "an amazing way to be green." She likes Forever Lawn, which is made from recycled plastic and tires. "It looks so real, and eliminates pesticides," she says. Plus, it just needs an occasional rinse.
Buffer the Children
For Jessica Alba's daughter's nursery, Whitman and Alba chose a crib and changing table made using sustainable wood and nontoxic paint. They also bought linens from Sage Creek Organics.
At left: Lawson-Fenning's Aerial crib ($1,042;
nurseryworks.net for stores) is an example of eco- and design-friendly baby furniture.
Conserve on Waste
To avoid buying (and wasting) several cans of paint before finding the right shade, Whitman invented Wall Makeup ($39; wallmakeup.com). The do-it-yourself kit lets you create and test small batches of custom colors before a dealer matches your final selection.