Trends, the very word sends shivers down the collective backs of those of us who are trying to consume less, shop with purpose, and tread more lightly on the earth. The reason for this, is that trends are usually generated as a way to encourage you to consume, and to toss away things that are no longer “on trend”. I am not a believer in trends insofar as following what is thrown at you like a sheep. However, I do believe that we are swayed by what is around us, what other people are up to, and our responses and reactions to what is happening in the world. Trends that encourage you to do good things, to help others, and which support healthy lives and encourage action on important issues – these are positive. For example, movements that encourage you to stand up and speak out about abuse, those which lead you towards conservation and create conversations around the tough issues such as pollution, recycling and energy consumption. I put together the top 5 trends for sustainable homes in 2018 and am following that up with my top trends for sustainable homes in 2019.
Rejecting Single Use Plastics
If you have not stepped on the single use plastics bandwagon yet, it is time. The whole debacle about plastic bags has come and gone, and more and more people are taking their reusable bags to the shops. We still have a long way to go when it comes to packaging, but we are taking important and positive steps. Some of the easiest things you can do for the planet include taking your own bags, coffee cup, straw and water bottle. Reject products that come in multiple layers of packaging. Consider reuse before recycle. If you want to work on this area of your home in 2019, start with one room, or task, and then move to the next. You can go plastic free, or reduce plastics, in areas such as the kitchen, bathroom and pantry. This includes your cleaning products for body and home, your food packaging and storage.
Look for bulk stores and farmer’s markets where you can, but remember that you can do what is possible for you, without having to do everything – every step matters.
Consuming Less and Shopping With Purpose
The first step in a sustainable home is to consume less. When you do shop, shop with purpose. Whether that be to support a local maker, buy something you need, or brighten up an area of your home – mindful shopping is the key. When I see people discussing how much they love decluttering and the whole Marie Kondo trend in one breath, and then talking about their latest shopping trip, or buying spree, in the next, I am dismayed. The point of decluttering and sorting your things is not to open up space to bring in more stuff. It is about living a life that is peaceful and calm, in a home that brings you joy. Sending things away so you can fill it up again with more mindless shopping is not the point. More people are starting to realise this, and reconsider their shopping habits. Consume with purpose. Spend money where you know the makers, or at least the chain of custody of the items. Buy products made with recycled materials. Go handmade and locally created. Think before you buy.
Having a home garden, growing some of your own food, and living with potted plants, is a growing trend, and for good reason. Plants bring the outside into your home, they light up a room, and they freshen the air. Growing your own food is a joy, and also saves you some cash. You might not have the time, space or inclination to grow a huge garden, but a couple of pots with herbs and tomatoes is something anybody can manage. When it comes to potted plants, some plants such as the Peace Lily, have even been shown to improve the air so much that they are like little filters of gold. Some people tell me they have a black thumb, but there are a few things that can help you keep plants happy in your home. These include not putting plants into dark rooms or rooms with heating or cooling blasting on them all the time; not over or under watering, and not letting plants sit with wet feet. Have a read here and here about some of my tips and how I care for mine. Do some research to find the best plants for your lifestyle and home.
The pace of life can be overwhelming. We are so connected to everyone and everything all of the time, and it can become destructive. In particular, comparing your home, your body or your life to other people, is damaging for your health. It also encourages mindless consumption. The desire to reconnect with the natural world and have simpler, slower lives, is becoming stronger. How you design and style your home reflects this craving for an offline life. Use organic materials and traditional handcrafts that add life and stories to the layers of your home. Add vintage pieces and things you or your children have made. Spend time doing things with those you love, or time alone at home, reading a book, pottering in the garden, or rearranging a room. Sometimes, just sitting and looking around your home, can provide you with inspiration. I often look at a room and decide to move a few pictures, or change some cushion covers. This gives a new look via shopping from your own home! Build memories in the walls of your home and she will reward you over and over. Love is the most important thing.
Having timber in your home has been shown to be good for your health, and there is nothing like the tactile nature of wooden floors and furniture. Accessories in timber and other natural materials are better for you, and the environment. Always look for FSC and other certified timbers that have been grown responsibly, and recycled options., which are becoming more and more available. Other materials such as linen, wool, organic cotton, hemp, jute, sisal, tencel and bamboo, are fantastic additions to your home. These kinds of materials will continue to diversify and provide eco options for building and decorating your home.
There are so many things you can do to create a slow, sustainable, mindful home, and one that brings you joy. Make 2019 the year you start to take more steps towards a gentle life and reject the push to over consume. Instead, go with the trends towards living life well, with purpose, be a human being not just a human doing, and make your life matter.