Welcome to Second Nature, a Q+A series with Jute founder, Ali Davin, that explores all things healthy living, with a fond emphasis on that thing she does best—interior design.
If you’re the type to make new year’s resolutions, chances are you‘ve switched to organic foods, pledged to shop locally, or even planned a slow-travel vacation. These small actions can add up to lower your environmental footprint.
The next step in sustainable living is addressing your home’s impact. Whether you’re planning a gut renovation or a simple refresh, why not resolve to do it a more intentional way that minimizes waste? Here’s how to join the slow home movement.
Think of the slow food and slow fashion movements, which are a reaction to fast food and fast fashion. We need to slow down when it comes to our homes. That means being calmer about the pace of things, using higher-quality and nontoxic materials that will last longer, and making decisions intentionally.
I’ve noticed that within the last few years, clients are more interested in doing things mindfully and purposefully when it comes to the environment. Because labor and materials have become more expensive, I’ve found in many cases, they’re investing disproportionately to the house’s value, and I think that’s great. We need to accept that there’s a reason why certain elements are more expensive and take longer.
A lot of toxic chemicals and materials are used frequently in construction—not because everyone is setting out to destroy the planet, but because they make the process faster. For example, drywall takes hours to dry, versus plaster, which can take several days. Raw wood will have mold growing on it if it’s sitting in a warehouse for a while, versus MDF, which has formaldehyde to preserve it. Manufacturing goods this way may save time and money, but those chemicals are harmful to your health and the environment.
When you design your space, you want to do it once and do it right. That means choosing natural, organic materials that come from the earth and can last several lifetimes. Buy the best quality you can afford and choose the most timeless designs. Then don’t renovate every few years just because you can.
Many things have become disposable because it’s cheaper to make new goods rather than repair them. When things are manufactured at such a fast pace, their design becomes outdated quickly, and people feel compelled to replace them more frequently. But nobody questions this; we just accept it. Think of all the space that things like appliances or furniture take up in a landfill, sitting there for years and contributing to global warming.
We need to stop seeing everything as disposable. If you’re selling your house, do not spend six figures on a builder-grade kitchen renovation that the new buyer is going to rip out and throw in a dumpster. When you buy a home, try to repurpose and refurbish as much as you can.
Start with reusing what you already own, repairing things that are broken, and seeing the value in that. Instead of buying a new set of chairs, reupholster ones you already own. Yes, that may mean paying a little extra, but the big picture is that you are lowering your carbon footprint and keeping things out of the landfill.
It’s definitely better than throwing things away. Reselling or donating your items takes more effort than putting them in a dumpster, but it’s an easy way to do our part.
Slow down and make thoughtful decisions about everything you put into—or take out of—your home.