(photo by: kesenia churnaya)
With the summer solstice just behind us and July 4th fast approaching, it’s safe to say that these next few weeks are definitely peak summer. Sunny days and starry nights, cold drinks and hammock afternoons. In the delightful laziness of it all, one thing that dominates our thoughts in the summer months is the weather.
It’s no secret that weather trends around the world have been shifting due to the effects of climate change. As a company founded on the principle of sustainability we must respectfully take this opportunity to remind folks that the summer memories they cherish, and those they look forward to creating in the future, are at least partly tied to the health of our planet.
As you’ve (hopefully) heard before, the future is not all doom and gloom. We think it’s important to feel empowered, even as we understand that the challenges we face loom large. Each of us has the ability to make choices and changes that contribute to what can be a colossal human effort to right our planetary ship.
Working on the belief that the most effective change often starts at home, we want to share a few small actions you can take inside your home that will impact the greater good and create a more beautiful living space for you and your family. And while it’s true that sustainability and interior design have not always gone hand in hand, the tide is turning.
From Recycle to Upcycle
We’ve known for decades that recycling or reusing durable goods (think furniture, carpets, and other household items) is preferable to sending them to a landfill. The EPA keeps track of some fairly interesting data showing that recycling of these products has increased over the years, but we have a long way to go until the pace of non-landfill solutions matches the pace of production.
In the meantime, you can do your part by thinking “used” before “new,” which is more enticing than ever with the bevy of talented upcycle artists out there. Not surprisingly, Etsy is a good place to start looking. Little-known bonus for shopping via Etsy is the fact that the company itself strives to have a net positive impact by offsetting carbon emissions related to packaging and shipping products sold on its site.
(photo from patience and gough instagram)
Patience and Gough, based in Cumbria, England, creates beautifully elevated furniture using pieces they find by scouring auctions, sale rooms, and estate sales. The duo behind the brand believes that anything that has lasted 50 years or more is “pretty well-built compared to your average store-bought modern pieces.” Adding their art and aesthetic offers a well-deserved second life to carefully crafted furnishings.
(photo from planeindustries.com)
Another British upcycler, Plane Industries, takes the idea of a second life and raises it by about 30,000 feet. Brothers Ben and Harry founded the aviation furniture company in 2013 and currently offer everything from the A320 Exit Door Table to the somewhat iconic Cowling Chair, crafted from the enormous engine cowling of a Boeing 737. Like 1767, Plane Industries values the fact that their primary materials of choice – retired airplane parts – “have history, provenance, and a story attached to them,” in this case, “linked to the heritage and beauty of flight.”
If you’re so inclined (and let’s face it, we were all artistically and creatively inclined at some point), one super cool step you could take to address your consumption patterns is to adopt a DIY approach. Our own founder, Patrick Hayes, is a self-trained woodworker so we know it’s possible for anyone to learn as you go. A simple search turns up lots of ideas for woodworkers to check out on YouTube, plus there’s, you know, books.
If you’re not sure about actually constructing furniture, maybe you’d love to upgrade your childhood bookcase or refinish a family heirloom. Anything from sanding and painting to more involved stencils and design offers a sense of accomplishment and the true prize of keeping furniture out of the waste stream.
The likelihood that anyone reading this is in a position to make all of their furniture and other interior design needs is exceedingly low. So, yes, we have to buy stuff from time to time. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to be an informed consumer these days. The Cradle to Cradle Innovation Institute is a brilliant resource that certifies products on a scale from Basic to Platinum as a way to measure “safer, more sustainable products made for the circular economy.” Their site lists over 200 products in the “Interior Design and Furniture” category alone, so they’ve got you covered from floor to ceiling.
Another incredible resource is the Healthy Materials Lab at Parsons School of Design. The research and design lab is dedicated to “raising awareness about toxics in building products and to creating resources for the next generation of designers and architects to make healthier places for all people to live.” The lab’s website offers a ton of information for homeowners and pros alike to help guide your materials and tools choices, as well as basic information about small steps you can take to create a healthier home.
Share What You’ve Learned!
This list is really just the beginning of the conversation. We’d love to continue the chat via social media. Tag us on Instagram or Facebook to show us the sustainable ways you’re sprucing up for the summer!