Change starts at home

Our planet-damaging activities cause irreversible damage to the environment, but it’s not too late to change

LAST Malaysia has experienced devastating floods this year, one possibility being that they were caused by over-harvesting, with a larger cause being blamed on overall climate change. There were other factors as well.

Either way, it all leads to us not caring about the planet we live on, which is ironic considering we care about the homes we live in and academics and scientists are predicting our extinction within the next century.

We need a change of point of view. Instead of looking at the big picture—the planet—we should look at the frame that holds the picture together, namely our homes, perched on this rock rushing through space.

By changing things in our homes to make them more sustainable, humanity will push humanity towards environmental self-preservation on a larger scale.

While sustainable homes are designed and built to minimize their environmental impact, most of the homes that currently exist were built with this in mind.

In cases like the latter, homeowners or tenants may still choose additions or modifications to minimize environmental impact by determining how their home or even certain rooms are used, even if their home was not originally intended to be environmentally friendly.

One such way is to choose appliances that comply with the principles of sustainable development, i.e. reduce energy consumption.

This article will feature a few sustainable, eco-friendly décor ideas that match both looks and sustainability.

Start with the basics

To better accommodate potential big changes in décor and fittings, it would be wise to start small, and most are probably already doing so, given the initiatives that have been implemented in the country, such as reducing the use of plastic.

Since it’s easy to see that everyone’s household utensils are made of stainless steel, how many stainless steel straws are actually used? Tapao or bungkus often results in restaurants serving plastic straws. Stainless steel straws at home (or even at work) are shrinking and even serve as a reminder for us to ditch plastic straws.

In addition, there is the use of recyclable shopping bags, which is still encouraged.

As for the actual décor, and contrary to Asian auntie dogma, it might be time to get rid of Tupperwares and “smaller” plastic containers like used ice cream containers that always seem to contain frozen fish.

There is a visible style in exchange for steel and glass containers.

Actually turns green

“Decor” does not only refer to inanimate objects. This also applies to plants, or in particular houseplants, which are 99% of the time aesthetically beautiful and soothing to the eyes.

Plants are very common in the home garden (for those lucky enough to have space for them). Most people may have one or two plants in their home, but what about the rest?

Functionally, most plants are also capable of increasing oxygen production and air quality in homes. To really push the envelope on how to make these plants look good indoors, opt for traditional clay pots for them.

In keeping with the plants, also consider using used furniture instead of buying a new one every time you need to freshen up or replace.

Also, in the spirit of sustainability, if furniture gets too “old” or breaks down, don’t just throw it away and promote excess. There are ways to turn old furniture into new items, such as turning a broken bookshelf into a plant shelf.

In terms of chemicals, there are many elements in homes that contribute to global toxicity, especially carbon dioxide emissions.

The most commonly used wall paint. Cheaper homes or rooms tend to have toxic wall paints that greatly contribute to the release of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) we breathe in.

If possible, switch to environmentally friendly paints that are made from less harmful or natural ingredients.

In addition to wall paint, we also throw away tons of chemicals in the form of detergents, dishwashing liquid, soaps, shampoos, conditioners, and the list goes on. There are far more sustainable products that can be used in place of the industrial chemicals people love and are familiar with, like vegan soaps.

Benefits of eco-friendly houses

Making your home greener can help save the environment, such as reducing the amount of harmful chemicals in your home.

Combined with the rising cost of living, some home changes will also help save on energy and water bills, such as switching to solar power by turning on solar panels.

Replacing your furniture with a wood-scaffolding alternative also helps reduce the rampant deforestation going on around the world.

These changes may seem small, but in the long run they will be the sum of most.