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The Ultimate Guide to Green Living Using 10 Stylish, Eco-Friendly Apartment Ideas

Image: Paints

  • Dunn-Edwards zero-VOC Ecoshield Paints
  • Olympic zero-VOC, low-odor ICON Paints
  • It never hurts to request that your landlord gets your apartment move-in ready using a low VOC paint. And if it’s not possible, let the apartment air out a few days before you move in.

    5. Decorate with alternative materials like bamboo, stone, steel and glass.

    Wood is beautiful but comes with a host of issues. Chemicals that coat and seal the wood are big VOC offenders. Deforestation and irresponsible wood harvesting are other problems. But alternatives like bamboo, metal, stone and glass are plentiful. And they require a lot less care and maintenance, due to their hard, durable surfaces.

    Some great places to work with alternative materials include:

    • Kitchen counters and other surfaces
    • Floors
    • Walls
    • Cabinets (bamboo kitchen cabinets shown above)

    Image: Simon Eldon

    6. Control room temperature with curtains.

    A simple fix to drafty or hot rooms is the use of curtains or window treatments. Window treatments insulate a room by blocking out cold drafts and keeping heat from escaping during the winter and shading against the hot sun in the summer.

    According to “Studies demonstrate that medium-colored draperies with white-plastic backings can reduce heat gains by 33%.” That will save you some cash on the air-conditioning bill. Not to mention that window treatments add a good design element to a room.

    7. Skip wall to wall carpet.

    New carpet is perhaps the most toxic item in your house. According to Mercola: “The ‘new carpet’ aroma is the odor of 4-PC off-gassing, which is an eye and respiratory-tract irritant that may also affect the central nervous system. The adhesive used to affix the carpet to the floor typically contains benzene and toluene, some of the most harmful VOCs.”

    Avoid carpet if you can. Go with greener flooring materials like concrete, stone, tile, bamboo or wood. They’ll add a contemporary look to your apartment and be far easier to keep clean.

    8. Ventilate

    Today’s windows are so energy efficient that they seal your home too well. Which means indoor toxins and chemicals never have a chance to escape. The Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests you make it a habit to open the windows or doors and let fresh air circulate regularly. Even in the cold winter, if just for a few minutes.

    9. Pick furniture made with certified materials.

    Retailers today love to tout the eco-friendly label. But what makes their product eco-friendly? Ask and many may not have an answer for you. Luckily, you can look for certification.

    If you really love the element of wood for your furniture and can’t live without it, look for the Rainforest Alliance’s little green frog seal on furniture. Or shop for products that are FSC certified. FSC certified products ensure that the wood was grown and harvested responsibly. West Elm and Crate and Barrel are two top retailers selling FSC certified wood furniture.

    Other certified, alternative materials on the market today include soy-based foam and water-based, low VOC finishes.


    Image: Escale Design

    10. Be mindful of the candles you’re burning.

    Candles add ambiance to a space. They cast a warm glow and are relaxing. But do you know that the cheaper waxes are made of petroleum? Some candle companies add a bit of metal to a wick to keep it burning upright. And scented candles may not always use the best quality fragrances. In fact, a study found that selected scented candles and products emitted more than 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including some that are classified as toxic or hazardous by federal laws.

    Lighting a beautiful candle can mean you’re heating and releasing diesel fumes, chemical fragrances and metals into your home. Choose candles made with natural materials like soy, vegetable or beeswax. And avoid the gimmicky metal wick–it’s not necessary for a safe burn. Skip the scent or choose one that’s made with essential oils or better quality fragrance.

    You now have some good, eco-friendly apartment ideas that are study-backed to help you make the right decisions for your health and home. Which small changes will you make today? Cheers to green living!

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