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Creating a sustainable home environment

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In today’s environmentally conscious society, it is increasingly important to focus on sustainability. People want to live in a ‘green design’ home that minimises harmful effects on the environment, while also maintaining personal style and longevity. The successful design of such an interior depends largely on the availability of locally sourced materials and furnishings. I have always been highly motivated by the challenges of reducing my carbon footprint, and adapting my style to new cultures and surroundings; this enables me to embrace the availability of local resources to create sustainable designs. 

So, what are the first steps to take when designing our homes without having an adverse effect on the environment? It is easy to forget that your carbon footprint includes ordering furniture and fittings from around the world. Instead, take advantage of locally sourced products as transportation results in the unnecessary burning of fuel. Alternatively, opt for the use of organic materials for cushions and floor covering such as silk, wool or cotton as they do not undergo energy intensive manufacturing. Environmental damage extends beyond furnishing; take the time to read labels on products such as paint for the walls, to ensure there are no harmful air pollutants included. 

Not everything in your home needs to be brand new as many items can be recycled, reclaimed and reused. When choosing recycled materials, bear in mind that the less processed the materials are, the lower its energy consumption. Select those with a high proportion of recycled content such as glass countertops, furniture made from reclaimed wood with simple joinery and recycled aluminum products. You can extend the lifespan of furniture by restoring it and with minimal effort, you will be able to surround yourself with recycled materials in accordance with your own artistic style, giving them a new lease of life.

Another consideration when living in a ‘green design’ home is the use of energy. Hong Kong’s subtropical climate means that most of us would be lost without air conditioning. As one of the largest users of energy in homes, using air con efficiently can lead to a better micro-climate. Choose cool porcelain or ceramic tiles for your flooring rather than wood, which absorbs and releases heat, making the room hotter. Use shading systems such as curtains and blinds to block out the heat during the day. Alternating the use of fans with air conditioning uses less energy to circulate the cool air, also lowering your electricity bills. 

Whether you recycle, reclaim, reuse or buy locally, choose items that are timeless and durable so you won’t need to replace them after a few years. It is only natural that furniture and furnishings will experience wear and tear, and remember, an occasional retouch can breathe new life into your favourite items. Sustainability and green living does not mean compromising; indeed the opposite is true, and it is a means of expressing your own style while reducing your carbon footprint.