7 eco-friendly decorating tips

As the days get brighter and warmer, you might be turning to home decorating to make sure your home is fit for all those summer barbecues you’ll be hosting. But before you rush to the home store, have a read of our eco-friendly decorating tips. You’ll get a home looking worthy of an interiors magazine without the environmental footprint!

eco-friendly decorating - a person with brown skin wearing dungarees paints a wall green with a long-handled roller

5 minutes to read

by Katie Skelton/ 15th April 2022

Eco-friendly decorating tip #1: Buy your tools second-hand

There’s a growing trend of ‘sustainable consumption,’. This is partly due to large companies hopping on the bandwagon of sustainability. The best thing you can do for the environment is to buy fewer new things. Instead, buying second-hand where possible is a much better option for the planet.

If budget is a worry, you can find high-quality decorating tools for a fraction of the price of buying new. Sites such as eBay will do the trick – there’s no need for specialised secondhand tool services. Just make sure you’re buying something secondhand, not new, as some sellers post brand new items on eBay.

Or, head to your local charity shop or secondhand fair and have a hunt around for good bargains!

Eco-friendly decorating tip #2: Traditional paint can be harmful to the planet

When you stare back at your handiwork, there’s something happening in the background while you’re watching paint dry. That ‘something’ is the release of volatile organic compounds or VOCs.

Many VOCs have adverse health effects, can affect air pollution levels within the home and contribute towards greenhouse gas emissions due to the reaction of the VOCs with sunlight. These negative effects can last for years after the paint has dried, as they will evaporate over time into the air. 

When shopping for your next pot of paint, check for low VOC paint or 100% VOC-free paint such as these from Little Knights or Graphenstone which are both free from carcinogens and petrochemicals – all the things we want to stay away from. The Graphenstone paints even absorb carbon dioxide. But check the small print on the tubs, as there’s not any official regulation over the labelling of a product as ‘low VOC.’ Generally paints labelled as low VOC should contain fewer than 50g per litre. 

You can also now find natural paints such as chalk or milk paint, which are entirely free of VOCs. 

Eco-friendly decorating tip #3: Tool rental – a professional touch without the cost

Save money and save the planet by renting some professional-grade decorating tools. Renting is the best of both worlds: you get to splash out on high-quality items without the price tag associated with buying them new, and you reduce the impact that creating new items has on the planet.

Best at Hire  provides tool hire throughout the UK, and HSS rents out tools suitable for everyday or professional use. If you’re outside the UK, have a quick Google (or even better, Ecosia) search for tool rental businesses and you should be able to find tools for your decorating project that are affordable and of good quality.

If you live in a more rural area, why not ask your neighbours or local community whether anyone’s got any spare tools lying around? We’re always surprised what people can dig out from the depths of their cupboards and sheds.

Eco-friendly decorating tip #4: Greener paintbrushes

If you think you’re going to be using your brushes regularly enough to warrant buying them new, then bamboo-based brushes are the way to go. Bamboo is a super-fast grower, uses far less water and pesticides than normal wood, and its quick growth rate means it’s one of the most sustainable resources out there.

These Eco Union paintbrushes are a great place to start, with their bamboo handles and fibres being made from recycled or natural materials. We’ve not yet found brushes that have entirely natural brush fibres but if you’ve found any, please let us know by emailing life@ailuna.com so we can add them to this post!

Eco-friendly decorating tip #5: Think about your flooring

Yes, even what’s underneath your shoes or feet can be improved to be more environmentally friendly. Bamboo is again another strong contender, and it’s hypoallergenic too. But if you don’t fancy the idea of hard wood underneath your feet, cork is growing in popularity. It’s highly durable and is much quieter than bamboo – perfect for those of you with little feet running around!

someone laying cork flooring, which is much more eco-friendly than traditional floors when decorating your home

Eco-friendly decorating tip #6: Choosing textiles

On the hunt for a new set of curtains, or a total re-carpeting of your house? Have a closer look at what they’re made of – many standard textile products will be made of plastic-based, synthetic fibres that require chemicals and unnatural dyes to be produced.

Check whether natural dyes are used, if the material is renewable or more natural than synthetic, and whether the material (natural or not) would require lots of chemicals. Cotton is a good example – although it’s a much better choice than polyester, it still uses a high amount of pesticides, so organic cotton would be the more sustainable option.

Eco-friendly decorating tip #7: Reuse what you already have

Another one of the best eco-friendly decorating tips out there is to repurpose what you already have. You never know what you might find if you have a look around your house with a fresh pair of eyes. The tired-looking curtains? They could be washed and turned into part of a patchwork quilt.

How about those old wooden dining chairs? They could be sanded down and polished so they look like they’ve jumped straight out of a shop. Alternatively, mixing and matching dining chairs is very fashionable right now, so don’t worry if everything you already have doesn’t match!

Need support or advice?

Ailuna can help you on your sustainability journey, no matter how long you’ve been on the path. We use techniques rooted in behavioural science so that you can make changes to your lifestyle that will actually last and make a huge difference to the environment.

Download it today to take a look at our selection of easy-to-start challenges, and why not join the free Ailuna Community Facebook group, share your decorating plans and show us the before and after photos!

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