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How to Furnish Your Home Sustainably: 3 Budgets

Need to spice up your living space? Try these sustainable options to give new life to your home while staying sustainable and affordable.

Hannah Erling
Hannah Erling

So you moved into a new place? Congrats! Now it’s time to furnish and make it your own. There are an infinite number of routes you can take in this process, and you can incorporate sustainability into each step to make your home as environmentally-friendly as possible.

Sustainability is a broad topic and means something different to each person. Spend some time thinking about what it means to you and how you want to act on it.

For example:

  • You could choose to buy a high-quality leather sofa because of its durability. However, you could also choose to opt for a sofa made of plant-based materials to avoid supporting animal agriculture, despite this running the risk of it not being as durable.
  • You could choose to look for companies based in America to support the American economy and reduce carbon emissions from shipping overseas. On the flip side, you could choose to look for companies based overseas to support economies in other parts of the world and ensure they are making a livable wage in their home country.
  • If you are politically active, would you support a brand that donates to the opposite political party?

A good starting point is to look at companies that have a B corp certification. These companies are put through a rigorous vetting process to ensure that they are considering their business’ effect on their workers, community, environment, customers and suppliers. Fortunately, many furniture companies are looking to incorporate more recycled materials into their products, following suit of many leaders in the fashion industry.

While this might be a lot to take in, this is going to be your space and you can incorporate as many or as little sustainably sourced pieces as you desire.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle...in that order.  

If you are unsure of whether you need something or not, you probably don’t. Try living without it before deciding if you want to purchase it to reduce your overall consumption. If you already own something that you can add to your new place, find a way to reuse it! Be creative and find new ways to use your old furniture. Don’t like your old bookcase anymore? Try painting it a different color or using it in a different room. Finally, recycle. This can have a couple different meanings in this context. Recycle any recyclable waste that you accumulate, or recycle any salvageable items by selling/giving them to someone else to use.

While going through sustainability blogs/communities online, it may seem that in order to reduce your carbon footprint, it is essential to purchase certain “sustainable items” like bamboo toothbrushes, certain branded clothing, and so on. It is important to keep in mind that using what you have already is always going to be the most sustainable choice.

Shopping Within Your Budget

There is a large misconception that sustainability comes with a high price tag. While that is sometimes the case, there are many ways to make a sustainable home without breaking your bank. Having a budget and sticking to it is more important than anything. After all, what’s the point in having an organic cotton hand-embroidered pillow if you can’t afford to eat next week? Feel free to use the budgets below as a starting point for making your home sustainable. Mix and match them as you see fit to get your own unique setup.

sustainable furniture, secondhand shopping, budget-friendly, interior design
Sophia Kunkel via Unsplash

📦 Low Budget: Shop Secondhand!

Price: ﹩
Sustainability: 🌍🌍🌍

If you are on a tight budget, consider shopping secondhand! This is a great way to support your local consignment shops and it is the most sustainable option because you are not contributing to any new products being made. Although you can use online resources like Craigslist, Etsy or Ebay for this, it might be difficult to coordinate different pieces without seeing them in person. This approach will likely take the most time, as you will need to go out and look for individual items yourself.

While shopping secondhand, be sure to consider how you will be able to wash each item. Dry clean items as needed if you do not have the supplies to properly clean them yourself.

This option is great for those who are looking for a vintage-inspired or eclectic look, as it may be difficult to find things that perfectly match.

🛠 Mid-Size Budget: Build it Yourself!

Price: ﹩﹩
Sustainability: 🌍🌍

This might not be realistic for all of your furniture, but it can be a rewarding experience to have some of your own creations in your home. Some relatively simple projects to start on are:
A Clothing Rack
Wall Art
A Walnut Table

This gives you the most creative freedom but is also the most effort-intensive. Consider making this an activity with friends or family for extra help. Aside from building furniture, there are also other ways that you can make your home more sustainable. For more ideas, check out our blog post about some easy DIY home projects.

🛋 Large Budget: Shop at Sustainable Brands!

Price: ﹩﹩﹩
Sustainability: 🌍🌍

If you have the funds to do so, purchase from sustainable brands! Vote with your dollar by buying from brands that you want to support.

It is likely that if a company is sourcing their items sustainably, they will be proud of it and show what they are doing! If you aren’t sure/can’t find information on their site, it never hurts to reach out to them via email or social media. This is a big investment so you will want to know where your money is going.

These brands are often fairly expensive compared to other brands for a variety of reasons. The additional money often goes towards providing everyone in the production line with a living wage, or additional expenses to recycle fabrics and so on.

Be wary of brands that claim to be sustainable but are on the lower price range. They may seem like a perfect fit, but it is also possible that they are greenwashing in an effort to attract more customers. Make sure to look for concrete examples of what sustainable practices they follow.

Some brands to look into:

West Elm x Eileen Fisher
This recent collaboration features denim from Eileen Fisher’s recycled denim program alongside artisans from West Elm to create one-of-a-kind denim furniture.

This Ohio-based company does philanthropy work internationally and plants one tree per purchase on their site. They use recycled natural materials to deliver high quality furniture directly to their customers.

The Joinery
This Oregon-based B corp has a commitment to make a positive impact on their community and offers a lifetime warranty on all of their products. They go beyond just sustainable sourcing and implement sustainable practices in their business such as using biodiesel fueled delivery trucks, high-efficiency lighting in their warehouse and sourcing a majority of their lumber locally.

Final Thoughts

Whether you just moved in or are remodeling, making sustainable improvements to your home is exciting, and it sometimes results in financial benefit. For more articles to help you embark on your sustainability home journey, check out https://blog.tellusapp.com/tag/sustainability/.

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