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January 01, 2021
2020 has been an unexpectedly difficult year for all of us, a year that made us reconsider what was important, what worked for us and what didn’t. So much was out of our control, which made our homes, the thing we can curate for ourselves right down to the tacks, even more important than before. As we leave this doozy of a year behind us and run into the welcoming arms of 2021, there’s no better way to invest in ourselves than to recommit to making our spaces perfectly suited to our needs.
We want to take a moment to reflect, in the custom of New Year’s, on our resolutions for 2021, and our big one is sustainability. Home renovation is traditionally a pretty wasteful industry: packaging and demolition aside, the run-off and byproducts created through the manufacturing of many home reno materials can be super harmful and wasteful. Here at Decorner, we want to do everything we can to stay aware of and improve our impact on the environment by becoming increasingly more sustainable.
We’re kicking off 2021 with a week’s worth of sustainability-themed content, which we’ll close out with something very exciting on January 7, so we hope you’ll stay tuned as we talk about sustainability in the home reno industry in general as well as our commitment to it, and give you a closer look at some of our eco-friendly, sustainable products!
Between figuring out timings and moving things around and acquiring all the right products and pieces and coordinating deliveries and learning about and executing installation and making sure that everything works well together, home renovation is a daunting concept before you even consider sustainability. Diving home renovation into two parts can help the ordeal seem more manageable.
Part One: choosing products that are created sustainably and making sure your practices and processes are as sustainable as possible.
Going sustainable in terms of the products you’re using has never been easier than it is right now. Not only are more manufacturers than ever finding new ways to eliminate toxic materials and create products that are eco-friendly, but it is getting easier and easier to buy materials that are domestic, if not fully local. Minimizing the footprint of your materials – the byproducts, the energy used during manufacturing, the resources and energy used to transport your materials to you – should be a huge consideration as you plan a sustainable renovation.
Try to think about the materials for your renovation the same way you think about your food – it sounds silly, but bear with us on this one! Look for pronounceable, recognizable materials, as often as possible. Wood, cork, steel, bamboo – these are all examples of sustainable materials that don’t leave a huge negative footprint. You can lessen that footprint even more by upcycling, by thrifting or getting your DIY on with existing products and remodeling them to make them work for you and your space.
When you’re choosing your materials, these sustainable ones should stand out to you for several reasons. The cost of their production, in terms of energy spent as well as by-products created, is much lesser than others, and their impact on your home, meaning the way they impact the air quality in your home, is safe and positive. There are various certifications you should keep in mind as you consider the materials you’re using, but the most important one for you to know about is Greenguard. The Greenguard Environmental Institute is an industry-independent, third-party, non-profit organization that offers several certification programs that identify low-emission products for indoor use. Choosing products that have this certification will ensure that you’re choosing something that won’t make the air indoors even more polluted than the air outdoors, and is a great way to make steps in increasing your sustainability.
Recycled plastic is another huge sustainable material that is extremely versatile and available in many shapes and forms useful for your home renovation. You can find recycled plastic insulation, concrete, carpeting, floor and ceiling tiles, bricks, even windows, not to mention that there is a whole niche of recycled plastic décor materials. This spirit of taking something that could have ended up in a landfill and giving it new life as a useful material – this is the essence of sustainability.
When you’re taking your home apart to prepare for renovation, try to deconstruct instead of demolishing. Take a little extra time to take things apart in a way that keeps them functional and upcyclable instead of flat-out destroying and dumping them. This gives them the opportunity to have another shot in someone else’s home, or to act as the foundation for some other fantastic DIY, instead of becoming trash.
MAKING YOUR SPACE MORE SUSTAINABLE
Part Two: making improvements that make your home a more sustainable space.
Renovating to make your home run more sustainably is not only good for the environment, but for your wallet. The priority here is minimizing wasted energy, which conserves fossil fuels and non-renewable elements in addition to saving you money on your bills. Some of this comes down to the materials you choose during your renovation, of course – upcycled materials whenever possible, reclaimed furniture, recycled surfaces. There are many ways to choose materials such as flooring, wall tiles and even countertops that are made of reclaimed and refurbished materials. It’s also a great time to consider your appliances, and upgrade to fixtures that optimize energy and water usage. Low-flow bathroom and kitchen appliances and fixtures can drastically reduce the amount of water used and wasted.
How many lightbulbs do you have in your home? Switch all of those over to LEDs and watch your electric bill drop dramatically. LED bulbs use a fraction of the energy and emit a fraction of the heat of traditional bulbs, while providing the same brightness and a lot of variety. They also last a heck of a lot longer – say goodbye to swapping ‘em out every couple of months.
Eliminating drafts by making sure your doors and windows are properly insulated is another way to conserve energy. Draft-proofing can reduce energy wastage by as much as 85% - that’s a whole lot of heat! These gaps can be tiny and are usually in the frames of the windows (as opposed to the panes themselves) as well as around edges of doors. And don’t forget your mail slot or your open fireplace. Those can be massive heat sucks about which we completely forget.
WHAT WE’RE DOING
As a small business, just starting out, it’s hard to find the capital to be as fully sustainable, but it’s something that’s important to us and that we’re looking to augment as we grow. We’re starting by offering sustainable product options that are drop-dead gorgeous while also being eco-friendly. We offer recycled glass tile options, to bring a beautiful eco-touch to your kitchen or bathroom. We’re huge fans of the Osmo stains, which are made of natural ingredients and can help you make your floors and counters gorgeous as well as safe and friendly for your whole family, human and animal alike.
Our favorite eco-friendly product line right now is our in-house brand of recycled paint, Refuge. Paint is a super heavy-hitter when it comes to unfriendly production processes. Manufacturing paint creates a ton of waste and toxic run-off and uses a whole lot of energy, and the remnants create even more waste. Refuge is made of high-quality paint remnants that have been brought back and mixed together, minimizing new waste and energy usage and creating a sustainable product out of a highly problematic one. Recycled paint used to be less desirable because there weren’t very many colors available – luckily, that’s no longer the case. Our recycled paint is available in a variety of colors – stay tuned for even more! – and it’s highly adhesive, with great covering power and gorgeous saturated pigment. Recycled paint is a win-win situation – it’s a high-quality product that does well by the environment, too.
We’ve got big plans when it comes to reducing our footprint here at Decorner. We’re working on finding more sustainable ways to package and ship your samples. We’re constantly looking for more sustainable product options to offer, and we’re passionate about making these products accessible and easy to install. We want to create more content outlining sustainable DIY projects and ideas and learn more about how we can make a difference, both to our customers and in our industry.
2020 was a dumpster fire in a whole lot of ways, but it did manage to show us, globally, the real ranking of our priorities, and taking care of our planet is a big one for Decorner. How important is sustainability to you, and what are you willing to do to walk the walk? It’s a small investment of time, energy and money to make choices that are more considerate and eco-friendly, but the pay-off is huge – and there’s no better way to leap into 2021 than with a new sustainable attitude!
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