Your bedroom is your most private space, where you’re at your most vulnerable. That’s why you need healthy, safe, non-toxic bedroom furniture and linens. And, for most people, it’s important that bedroom decor is cozy, tasteful, and reflects the owner’s personality. Eco-friendly furniture can serve all those purposes. Sustainably sourced materials lessen your impact on the environment, and they’re healthier for you and your family, too.
Here’s how you can design the bedroom of your dreams, with eco-friendly upgrades that will help you sleep easier at night.
1) Buy Secondhand Furniture
Whether you buy lovingly restored antiques from your favorite high-end boutique shop, or gently-used items from the local Goodwill, buying secondhand furniture is always going to be better for the environment. A brand new chest of drawers, made in China, has a carbon footprint 16 times that of an antique bureau, simply due to the resources used in its manufacture and the emissions created during its journey from factory to end user. Buying secondhand can be an affordable way to acquire beautiful, sturdy, and well-made, handcrafted furniture that will last for years or decades longer than contemporary pieces. That means buying secondhand furniture can help you keep reducing waste for years to come. Antiques often hold value well, and can even increase in value over the years, so you should look at them as an investment, rather than a purchase.
2) Upcycle Fabrics and Cushions
According to the EPA, landfills received 11.2 million tons of textiles in 2017 alone. Most home textiles can be recycled, and it’s easy to upcycle your old clothes, curtains, bed linens, and other textiles into cozy quilts, storage solutions, new curtains, lampshades, furniture upholstery, and more. Don’t have a lot of old clothes lying around? Scour thrift stores for secondhand comforters, window treatments, old wool sweaters for felting, and more. You can also buy fabric scraps from most fabric stores for a discounted price.
3) Buy an Organic Mattress
Your mattress may be the single most important piece of furniture in your home. It certainly gets the most use — you spend at least a third of your life on it, after all. And if you’re still sleeping on a conventionally produced mattress, it’s time to make the switch to an organic mattress. That’s because your conventional mattress is chock full of toxic chemicals. When you first bring home a conventional mattress, the synthetic materials it contains off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can cause serious health problems. The conventionally grown cotton in traditional mattresses is soaked in pesticides — it’s one of the most pesticide-heavy crops, and many of the pesticides used to grow cotton are toxic to humans and animals. When you buy an organic mattress, you can rest assured that it’s free of VOCs and most pesticides. Organic mattresses are made with sustainably produced, natural materials like organic cotton, wool, and latex. They’re available from retailers like AvocadoGreenMattress.com, and, while they might be a little more expensive than traditional mattresses, it’s worth it. They’re sturdy, non-toxic, long-lasting, comfortable, and naturally flame retardant.
4) Use Green-Certified Paints and Stains
If you’re painting or staining your bedroom walls or furniture, buy green-certified, low- or no-VOC paint. Most major manufacturers carry non-toxic latex paints that you can use to freshen up your decor without putting your family at risk of breathing in harsh toxic chemicals. For furniture, trim, cabinetry, and walls, you can use chalk paint, which can give your pieces that chic vintage look with its soft matte finish. You can even use it to refresh the look of fabric upholstery! Milk paint is another non-toxic, water-based option that has been in use for thousands of years.
5) Invest in Organic Bedding
Organic sheets, comforters, pillows, and other bed linens are the perfect complement to your new organic mattress. Since most linens are also made from cotton, it’s a good idea to invest in organic sheets and blankets that aren’t produced with heavy pesticide use. That way, you’re not defeating the purpose of using an eco-friendly mattress by slapping some chemical-ridden, toxic sheets on top of it. And anyway, who doesn’t love a fresh, cozy new set of bed linens? A fluffy new comforter, some soft percale sheets, and plump pillows will make you look forward to bedtime even more than you probably already do. When it comes to upgrading your bedroom, spend the extra time and money to do it right. Not only is sustainable bedroom design better for the planet, it’s better for you, too — and there’s no time like the present to take steps to improve your health and well-being.