A3 thoughts Blog

8 Tips for an Earth Friendly Lifestyle

April 22, 2020

Happy Earth Day! In this post we share eight ways to integrate earth friendly practices into your home’s interior design (and more!).

At Associates III Interior Design the following three principles guide our interior design choices:

…Create the Best Designs

…Source the Finest Products

…Implement Environmental Stewardship

The current health crisis presents an opportunity to revisit and reconsider how we live in our homes, and what elements are essential to our well-being. Our homes are now the center of our worlds for all things: work, play, nourishment, rest, learning—everything we do. The comforts of home need to meet our most fundamental needs AND support our daily life experiences that would normally happen away from home.

1: REDUCE

Buy less and choose what you do purchase carefully. Selectively curate the items in your home to represent YOU. You might even have a friend or family member with a unique ability as a maker that you could collaborate with to create a special, bespoke item for your home. Our team enjoys working closely with local artisans and small businesses to co-create custom pieces that fully embody the style of our client’s home.

In addition to WHO made a product and WHERE the product was made, consider WHAT a product contains and HOW a product is made. Understanding the properties of materials—their sources and composition, whether dangerous or toxic—informs the search for better materials and products, thus benefiting overall quality of life.

Two very basic questions from William McDonough and Michael Braungart’s book “Cradle to Cradle” are important to ask when considering items for your home:

??? Where does it come from?

??? Where does it go?

2: REPURPOSE

Reclaimed Cabin in the Woods

Consider items you already own and how to repurpose them in creative ways. This is a great way to use what you already have and make it new again for an instant refresh of your space.

Examples of repurposing include antiques, collectibles, and generational family heirlooms. These may need a simple refinishing or updating to fit into your home’s style. By doing so, you can hold onto a well-loved piece and re-work it for current needs.

3: REUSE

Open Air Rustic Dining Room

Source furnishings from antique traders, second-hand stores, or purchase pre-loved items from online marketplaces. Does a family member own a piece you’ve always coveted that they might one day look to sell or pass along? Let them know you’re interested when the time comes to do so!

Reused pieces bring elements of character, intrigue, and story into your home to provide layers of interest to your interior design that won’t be found anywhere else. They also prevent pieces from ending up in a landfill, and don’t require new materials to be made.

Alternatively, think about what you might have in your house that could be repaired, sold or donated for others to reuse.

4: RECONNECT

Serene Bedroom with Mountain View

Connect with the natural world by bringing the outdoors inside through plants, florals, and greenery—or, the ultimate way, by entirely removing barriers between inside and outside to create permeable flow areas that seamlessly connect the two within your home.

Humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature, called biophilia, and spending time in nature is beneficial for human health. Natural environments are associated with improved mood, reduced stress or anger, more relaxation, and improved physical health.

In a natural setting, this may mean organizing your space to capture views or finding opportunities to open up to the outdoors. In urban settings, this may mean creating a bit of nature indoors with living walls, roof terraces, and pocket parks.

5: REVITALIZE

Contemporary clean bathroom

Even before the days of quarantine we would spend nearly 90% of our time indoors! Wonder how much this has changed under our current situation?

Today’s tip is about enhancing Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). Since we are spending so much of our time in our homes, it is important that the air we breathe supports our health and wellbeing.

Some simple steps to eliminate toxins and improve indoor air include:

  • Keeping your home clean to cut down on dust and allergens.
  • Choosing cleaning products that are non-toxic and don’t contain harsh chemicals.
  • Changing your filters regularly (for forced-air heating systems).
  • Increasing ventilation by opening windows or using fans for circulating fresh air.
  • If you have pets, grooming them regularly.
  • Taking off your shoes when inside your home.

6: REGENERATE

Knapp Ranch growing food

We are huge advocates of knowing the source of your food. Whether you choose to grow your own or source fresh, seasonal produce from local farms, supporting your local and regional foodsheds not only provides you with more nutritious foods it also strengthens the regional economy and offers increased environmental transparency around your food choices.

Seek out producers who consciously cultivate the land and utilize regenerative growing practices. Did you know that one teaspoon of healthy soil contains more living things than there are people on Earth? (source: @regenerativeorganic)

What does this have to do with interior design? Well, growing herbs in pots on your windowsill counts as growing your own food! Also—nothing—we figure that if you’re into healthy interiors, it is likely you’re also into a healthy lifestyle and that begins with what we eat.

7: REPLENISH

Open floor plan kitchen & family

The kitchen is often referred to as the heart of the home—and for good reason! It’s where we go for nourishment. Cooking (or baking) at home can be a stress reliever—the process of cooking, the aromas that fill your home, and the element of nostalgia from making a familiar recipe or using your favorite plate or bowl can be incredibly comforting.

Building on the previous tip about FOOD— we recommend COOKING at home with whole foods, from scratch when possible. Set yourself up for success with how you set up your pantry, kitchen, and eating areas.

Things to consider: your home’s kitchen layout, what items or appliances you use most often, storage, and workflow. Make each of these components work for you, personally, and how you like to cook. You may be a stovetop chef, or perhaps the crockpot (or Instant Pot) are your go to, or you might even be an “outdoor” cook who opts for the grill over anything else. Whatever type of cook you are, keep what you need close at hand for ease of use and choose products and appliances for their longevity, quality, and durability.

And, for when you don’t want to or feel like cooking, order home delivery or take-out from your favorite local restaurant. They need love, too, these days.

8: RE-THINK

This tip ends with a very important topic: ENERGY & WATER.

We encourage you to think about how you use energy and water in your home. There are many ways to conserve these resources, including turning off the tap, insulating your water heater, installing a programmable thermostat, turning off (and change to LED) lights, line drying clothes instead of using the dryer.

Depending on local code and jurisdictions, you could incorporate graywater use and recovery systems and implement rainwater collection to reduce the need for and conserve potable water. Rainbarrels work even in our near-desert climate of Colorado were only 11-15 inches of rain falls annually.

Optimizing energy use and ensuring that consumption is the lowest it can be should be balanced with your home’s needs. Good starting points are your home’s building envelope and insulation—followed by efficient energy-consuming systems, appliances, and equipment. Renewable on-site energy or purchasing green-power options from your energy provider are options for homeowners to conserve even more.

Outdoor Fire Pit with view of Mt Sopris

EARTH DAY—50 Years!!

Today marks 50 years since the first Earth Day launched a lasting wave of global environmental stewardship. Today we are in the midst of a historic moment and a significant call to action—one that requires creativity, innovation, ambition, and bravery to create a more just and sustainable future for all.

The theme for this year’s Earth Day is climate action. Let’s reinvest in our world and in a future where everyone—human, plant, animal, earth—is taken care of by taking the best care possible of our only real home, Earth.

Rustic Cabin in the Woods