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The Attenborough effect: 5 ways to adapt your home interiors to suit an eco-friendly lifestyle

With the plastic crisis and global wastage problem requiring more urgent attention, consumers are turning to more environmentally friendly ways of living in all aspects of life.  Furniture trends are seeing a big change in demand off the back of this. Here, Matt Deighton, Managing Director of Sofas By Saxon discusses how you can adapt your home interiors to suit a more sustainable lifestyle.

The 'Attenborough effect' is seeping into all aspects of our lives. Since the natural historian brought out his Blue Planet series — which discussed the growing problems of biodiversity loss and the environmental impacts that humans are causing — 53% of people have reported using less plastic (Global Web Index). Plus, with statistics from Finder.com showing that veganism is predicted to skyrocket by 327% by 2020, businesses need to be appealing to this new era of environmentally conscious consumers.

While eco-friendly food choices are already available, other aspects of living are becoming influenced by the current consumer environment, including interiors and furniture. In this article, I will be discussing how you can adapt your home interiors to suit a sustainable lifestyle, whether that's to satisfy a vegan diet or to reduce environmental impacts.

Buy British
The amount of carbon emissions from road transport now makes up around one fifth of the UK's total greenhouse gas emissions, according to statistics from the ONS. This means that it's important to reduce the amount of miles our furniture is travelling to get to us, and buying British can help you to ensure you're being environmentally responsible.

Similarly, the amount of carbon emissions released when furniture is made overseas and shipped or flown over to the UK is staggering and adds to the global pollution problem that's destroying our planet. As well as reducing your environmental impact, when you buy British, you'll also be helping to strengthen and support the UK economy, which may otherwise be struggling due to cheaper, overseas sales and imports.

Choose faux or vegan materials
As well as considering where your furniture and interior pieces are from, it'll also be a good idea to think about their composition. Although leather can look great, if you're vegetarian or vegan, or are simply trying to cut out using animal products, you will want to look for alternative materials.

If you're conscious of the way your interiors are manufactured but like the finish of leather, you're in luck. Plenty of furniture manufacturers are now turning to create more environmentally friendly options. This includes faux leather that's made from polyester and finished with wax, dye or PVC to give it the texture of real leather.

There are even vegan alternatives for those living a completely animal product and by-product free lifestyle. These can be made from any natural material including cork and glazed or waxed cotton. Not only are these non-leather fabrics better for the environment, but they are also cheaper than real leather.

Pick natural textiles and finishes
Natural fibres and materials can be incorporated into almost every element of your interior design, meaning it isn't just your furniture you should be focussing on. Decorative cushions, throws, rugs and lampshades can all be made from sustainable materials, including wool, bamboo, cotton and jute.

As well as helping to cut down on the amount of synthetic materials that are produced, these natural materials are also not made from harmful chemicals like petroleum. Instead, opt for natural materials like wood, ceramic or cork.

Although some of these may cost you a little more than artificially treated alternatives, they are more beneficial to the environment, while still making your home look lovely.

Upcycle your old interiors
If you're thinking of throwing away that old coffee table or chest of drawers, stop and think about how you can repurpose these to reduce the amount of things you're sending to landfill. Old coffee tables can be given a new lease of life with a good sand, slick of protective oil and a lick of paint. Meanwhile, any old, lumpy cushions can be refilled with eco-friendly wool. You could even turn an old chest of drawers into a planting station for your kitchen herbs, or wine rack.

Use plants for decoration
Houseplants have a range of great benefits, from air purification to emitting soothing, fresh scents that can make you feel good. And, as they're relatively cheap to buy and can be low maintenance to care for, they're the perfect choice for adding some interest into the rooms in your home.

The best part about adding houseplants and flowers into your home is that there are types to suit all home sizes, no matter how much free space you do or don't have. For those with larger rooms, consider a tall bamboo plant that can flourish in the corner of your rooms. Alternatively, if you're limited on space, you could make use of the purifying properties of spider plants by choosing small ones in stands that can sit on your windowsills.

Giving your interiors an upgrade doesn't have to come at the cost of the planet. Take my top five tips on board to give your home an overhaul that is sustainable and safe.