How to Furnish your Home the Zero Waste Way

Filed in Blog by on April 19, 2020 3 Comments
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zero waste furnitureI don’t know about you, but when spring arrives, it makes me want to change things around a little here at Zero Waste Towers.

While we don’t necessarily feel the urge to do a deep spring clean like our ancestors did, there’s something about tidying the place up, throwing open the windows and decluttering that always feels good.

But decluttering shouldn’t come at a cost to the environment.

There are several issues with just throwing things away. First, there’s no such place as away! It’s always somewhere else such as a landfill site, incinerator or in the environment somewhere You only have to look at pictures of the plastics in our seas to know this. Second, it’s a waste of resources. Not many resources are infinite, at some point they will run out, so it makes sense to make the most of the resources we have. Third, landfills are home to toxic chemicals. Landfills give off incredible amounts of pollution and harmful toxins, ruining the environment around them.

So how can you take care of the environment at large when you want to spruce things up in your immediate environment at home?

In the Bedroom

If you want to make your bedroom eco-friendly, start with the basics. Look for mattress companies with sustainable pledges. Instead of settling for a cheap mattress that will last you five years and will then need to be got rid of, consider investing in an organic, chemical-free, non-toxic mattress. A mattress is probably one of the few areas of your home where you want to buy new as it’s important to get a good night’s sleep. But for the rest of the home there are plenty of sustainable options.

Finding used furniture is  a fun, simple and sometimes financially more sustainable Zero Waste option! Instead of buying new, help small businesses that sell used furniture such as through a local auction house, antiques shops or second hand furniture store. And if you’re feeling creative, you don’t need new furniture at all. Pinterest is a brilliant resource full of countless upcycling projects so that you can breathe new life into the things you already have. This saves money, preserves resources and you’ll end up with something unique to you.

For the Living Room

You can sometimes source secondhand paints through community projects, such as RePaint, but if you have a large area that needs decorating, you’ll most likely need to source new.  When painting the walls, choose low-VOC paints. VOC stands for volatile organic compounds, and those compounds are what give off the fresh paint smell. While releasing that smell that gives everyone with a nose a headache, they also give off chemicals into the air that can last for years. If you choose paints wisely, you will be able to repaint your walls without worrying about harming the ecosystem around you.

When it comes to sofas, avoid polyurethane foam, the most widely used inner material in cushions. Polyurethane foam contains toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, such as propylene oxide and toluene. Instead, find couches and sofas with natural latex. Natural latex comes from the rubber tree and is a renewable source. Sofas with natural padding also help add to the sustainability of the couch, and paddings can consist of wool, organic cotton, bamboo, and tons of other eco-friendly sources. Fabrics should include organic cotton or linen to guarantee you are staying away from unhealthy toxins and chemicals.

In the Kitchen

For a dining table, try to find old, salvaged, vintage pieces to make the centre of attention. Recycling old tables helps the environment and ecosystem in so many ways. We were really lucky with our dining table and found ours on Freecycle. Our dining chairs have been passed down the generations from my great aunt to my parents and now onto me. It feels lovely to have some family history in my home – you can’t buy that in Ikea!

Some of the things we’ve done

The photo below, shows part of our living room. The chair I’m sitting on was found in a neighbours shed! It’s a Queen Anne antique chair that she had no use for and gave us for free. The mantlepiece is a salvaged piece of wood too – found on a local farmer’s land, who again, gave it to us for free. The cupboard behind my husband is made from pieces of wood a neighbour gave us to burn on the fire – rather than burn it, we kept it, sanded it down, oiled it and use to make the cupboard which houses our board games.

zero waste furniture


In this second photo, in the lounge, you’ll see the small desk to the left of the sofa, which was given to my husband by an aunt when he was a little boy – he’d always sat at it and played every time he visited, so she made sure it went to that little boy who loved it so much! The sofabed came from eBay, the table to the right of the sofa was found in a second hand shop for £5 and the bookcase belonged to my grandfather – I remember that bookcase in his bedroom and have always coveted it, so was delighted when he said I could have it for my own home. Even the paintings were gifted by an artist friend, who had no space for his ever-increasing collection of art!


zero waste home


What about you – Which items of furniture do you think should be bought new, and what are you prepared to buy second hand?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (3)

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  1. Lyn says:

    If you have to buy new, buy the best quality you can afford and in a classic design so it will not date

  2. Lyn says:

    I had a lightbulb moment when searching for more bookcases to house paperbacks I would never read again. I donated the books to a charity and stopped searching.

    • Mrs Green says:

      😀 love that! Such a brilliant moment of awareness and I’m right with you on choosing the best quality you can when purchasing new. I certainly learned that the hard way 😉

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