The environment is front of mind for all of us. With news reports of melting ice caps, endangered animals and ever-increasing pollution levels, concerns over protecting our planet are at an all-time high. But the good news is that many businesses are responding by creating products and services to ease our environmental woes. This even applies to the interior design world, where eco-friendly home renovations are more popular than ever.

Ana Cummings of Tinge Interiors in Calgary specializes in eco-friendly home decorating by reducing, reusing and recycling whenever she can.

One of her biggest tricks for staying friendly to the environment is by reupholstering or painting furniture instead of always buying something new. “It’s amazing how a good upholsterer can transform great auntie’s armchairs into something so modern and comfortable, you’d think they were different chairs altogether,” she says. “Saving something from the landfill, or not having to spend an equal or more amount of money on a newer and sometimes sub-standard-product is a win-win.”

Cummings also recommends paying attention to paint products and hardwood flooring options, as there are environmentally friendly options available. When it comes to paint, she says to choose one that has low or zero VOCs, which stands for volatile organic compounds. These chemicals are emitted as gases from certain products and can be harmful to both people and the environment. In fact, exposure to VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, respiratory problems, headaches, nausea and dizziness.

For hardwood flooring, Cummings recommends using sustainable hardwood flooring options that have been approved by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The FSC promotes responsible management of the world’s forests; by choosing FSC-approved flooring, you can be assured that your wood comes from a healthy forest and does not infringe on Aboriginal rights and will not be detrimental to waterways or animal habitats. Another option is to find reclaimed wood. “Reclaimed wood has hit an all-time trend high in interiors, in both commercial and residential applications,” says Cummings. Reclaimed wood is exactly what it sounds like – reused wood. It can come from old barns, warehouses, boxcars, wine barrels and more. Style-wise, it can also offer up a unique look and is often used for creating antique-style cabinets and furniture.

With some careful shopping and wise choices, you can ensure your home decorating project is not only stylish, but also environmentally friendly.

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