SN&R’s Eco-Warrior Princess goes mad in your bedroom and living room
I was minding my own business, sitting around, eating a plate of cheese tortellini and chocolate cake and sipping a glass of milk while watching American Gladiators when a thought ruined my appetite: After providing indisputably helpful tips for an eco-friendly redesign of your kitchen and bathroom, I completely forgot all about fixing up the bedroom and living room. I failed you miserably.
Now I shall make it up to you.
It’s crazy time! Hand me those needle-nose pliers, monkey wrenches, nail guns, stethoscopes and any other tools I’ve never once used in my life, and step aside as I rip apart your house’s old insulation and replace it with an eco-friendly option, such as recycled cotton denim, natural wool, spray-applied soy-based foam or recycled newspaper (adequate insulation is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce a building’s energy use).
Whew, that wore me out. Thankfully, I’ve already purchased your organic bed, which I covered with organic cotton sheets. Because 25 percent of the world’s pesticides are used for cotton crops and pesticides remain in the cotton for the fiber’s lifetime, organic bed covering is clearly the way to go. Please excuse me as I stuff an eco-friendly pillow (filled with natural rubber latex that comes from the sap of a rubber tree) beneath my head and doze off for a quick catnap …
I’m awake! Back to work!
We’ll do the hardest part next: flooring. The cost for eco-friendly flooring ranges all over the place, with carpet typically being the least expensive, although not necessarily the greenest. I strongly advise against carpets. They trap dirt, and you know that glorious new-carpet smell? Yeah, that’s toxic. But if you insist, we’ll use nontoxic carpet tiles made from recycled plastic bottles, wool, nylon or cotton.
I’d rather use hardwood flooring, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, ensuring it was grown and harvested in a sustainable manner. The FSC began in 1993, determined to protect the world’s forests, following the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, when an intergovernmental panel failed to agree on a global forest compact. Concerned foresters, loggers, environmentalists and sociologists joined together to form the council and draw attention to how the depletion of natural resources contributes to increased poverty, disease, pollution and climate change.
I love trees. They’re fighters. Global warming thinks it’s tough? Trees are tougher. Mature trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in their roots, and growing tree babies nourish themselves on this gas. Take that, global warming!
Sorry about the tangent. Where were we? Oh yes, flooring. Instead of wood, we may use bamboo or cork flooring, both rapidly renewable resources (the former is durable, and the latter naturally resists moisture and fire, absorbs sound and radiates warmth). Ultimately, the decision’s up to you. I don’t want to be accused of making you do something you don’t want to do.
Pile into my hoo-ride, and we’re off to the Sacramento Habitat for Humanity ReStore in search of doors, furniture and lighting fixtures! Then we’ll hit up Ruland’s on 16th Street to check out office furniture and Thrift Town on El Camino Avenue for decorative pieces for the bedroom. Using salvaged and reclaimed products keeps this would-be waste from entering landfills.
Check out furniture made by Scrapile, a Brooklyn-based company that uses wood scraps and nontoxic adhesives and finishes. The company’s designers met while working at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, so you know the furniture is très bien. Another company, Acronym Designs, uses manufactured cutoffs (wood that would otherwise end up burned or dumped) for its lounge chairs, benches and tables. Don’t want to buy new? Dust off that old broken-down chair in the garage and reupholster it in hemp.
Single-pane windows are my pet peeve, because they waste massive amounts of energy. But multi-pane glass is no longer the main measure of energy efficiency; glass coatings and improved framing materials increase efficiency even more. Look for the Energy Star label and National Fenestration Rating Council ratings (which compare the energy performance of windows, doors and skylights), and ask suppliers about a product’s U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient, both of which measure heat levels transmitted. Don’t ask me what these terms specifically mean. I have no idea. I just know they’re important. So please leave me alone.
We’ve hardly anything left to do! Slather on some low- or no-VOC paint, install a ceiling fan, place an energy-efficient LED lamp on the bamboo nightstand and light a scented, clean-burning soy candle.
Welcome to your green house.