When redecorating for spring, don’t run to buy new or throw out – go green

Spring is finally here, and if you’re anything like me then you like to mix some redecorating in with your spring cleaning. Recently, I have been redecorating my dining room while trying to focus my efforts on reducing my consumption.

Admittedly, the easiest decision may have been to just head to a big box store and pick-up the prettiest items on the shelf, but I wanted do my best to reduce my impact on the environment.

I decided to follow the buying decision chart below. I did my research and decided that I would paint and recover my old dining room chairs. I also decided that we really needed a larger dining table. My first choice was to look for a used table on Craigslist and at thrift/antique stores. However, I soon discovered that the size of table I wanted was not a common size.
(Chart from Infographic)

(Chart from Thenotepasser.com)

My next best option was to find an affordable table made from sustainable materials. Through a little research and some patience, I actually found a local artisan who builds custom furniture from sustainably harvested native Kentucky wood. Yes, I did have to wait for it to be built. However, it is a piece that I know will last, and surprisingly it cost less than many of the mass-produced pieces I have seen at various stores.

Now my dining room has a beautiful new look, and I know that I made a more eco-friendly decorating choice.

If you are looking to do some eco-friendly decorating of your own, I’ve got some tips for creating an environmentally conscious living space. You can find some more tips and even some projects on our Pinterest board here.

When you are trying to do some eco-friendly redecorating, your first step should be to reduce the number of items on your “want list.” Ask yourself, “Is this really something that I need?” or “Will I still want this item in a year?” If the answer is no, resist the urge to purchase.

If the item is something you really need, buying it new shouldn’t be your first choice. Try buying the item used, or look for items made from recycled or sustainably produced materials. Craigslist, Ebay and thrift stores often have great, gently used items for amazing prices.

Do you have some old wood furniture in your house or in storage? Rather than simply discarding it, you could give the piece new life by refinishing, repainting or repurposing it. If you do need to get rid of any item, why not contact your friends and plan an exchange party? I bet your friends have furniture or accessories they are ready to change out.

Their bookshelf might be the answer to your living room storage needs, and your lamp could be the piece his/her bedroom was missing. If it can’t be repurposed or exchanged, consider donating home items you’ve replaced to nonprofits and thrift stores.

Eco-friendly redecorating may take a little more time and energy, but the results are usually worth the time and effort. So when you are redesigning or redecorating, try taking some of these steps to move toward a green theme – and I don’t mean the color.

Ashley photo

Ashley Bryant Cheney is the green jobs coordinator for Bluegrass Greensource, connecting green businesses with a young workforce and preparing students for green careers in the Bluegrass. From Knoxville, she’s worked in volunteer and program management at various nonprofits. She has a bachelor’s in Psychology from Carson-Newman University and a master’s in Urban Studies and Community Development from Eastern University.


This article appeared in KY Forward on April 3, 2014.

Green Jobs for a Green Future

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