When you think about “going green” what comes to your mind? Most people think about recycling their trash, eating organic, and switching to fluorescent light bulbs, but there are several other ways to create a greener lifestyle and home environment.

Greater global awareness of the green movement has affected every aspect of society, including interior design. Read on to discover a few simple interior design steps you can take to “green” your home.

Choose Toxin-Free Furniture and Paint

Wood varnish and most paints contain a whole host of incredibly hazardous chemicals. Wall paint commonly contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can make you and your family dizzy or sick. Consider repainting your walls with a safer variety of paint, such as AFM Safecoat or Auro USA.

The same goes for furniture that’s been treated with toxic varnishes, which often contain formaldehyde. Ask lots of questions before you buy any new wood furniture or cabinetry, or you risk introducing hazardous substances into your home’s environment.

Go Organic (Not Just in the Kitchen)

If you’re in the market for a new rug, or any piece of furniture covered in fabric, do your homework and make sure you buy organic whenever you can. Your feet will love the feeling of natural fiber, and your mind will love the feeling of having done something good for the environment. Organic bedding, towels, and other cloth items are a much greener alternative to commercially-produced fabrics that have most likely been treated with chemicals.

Freshen Up Your Flooring

By far, the greenest possible floor for your home is hardwood. Bonus points if you choose organic or reclaimed wood, or sustainable wood like bamboo. Wall-to-wall carpets are often made of synthetic fiber that is manufactured using chemicals. Not to mention the fact that any carpet is more likely to trap dust particles and other free-floating allergens and chemicals.

Switching your floors to hardwood or natural fiber carpeting, like 100% wool, is not only a great way to green your home but also an excellent strategy to improve the air quality of your living environment.

Grow Some Green 

What home décor item is greener than a potted plant? Keeping plants in your home is a great way to decorate in an environmentally friendly fashion while also introducing a natural air purifier to your space.

Potted plants, especially the bamboo palm, chrysanthemum, Gerbera daisy, and other species, are known for their ability to filter chemicals out of the air. Buying a potted plant or two can brighten up your space and do wonders for the air quality of your home!

Re-Use What You’ve Got

Recycling can apply to more than just cans and bottles. When it comes to your home’s interior design, you may be tempted to spend money on new furnishings and decorations. But getting rid of your old stuff creates waste, so what’s a green minded person to do?

One solution is to reupholster your tired furniture, or buy (or sew) slipcovers for your couches and armchairs. Buying a slipcover is usually much less expensive than replacing a piece of furniture, and you won’t be throwing a big item into a landfill. It may even be possible to create a whole new room simply by rearranging the furniture you already have. Experiment and see whether you still need to buy a new sofa after an hour or two of reworking the layout of your home.

Be Aware of How You Buy

If slipcovers and reupholstering aren’t options, think seriously about purchasing used or second-hand furniture. Choosing an item that’s been owned before is a great way to both save money and keep a potentially useable piece of furniture out of a landfill.

If the second-hand stores around you don’t have a great selection and you feel you must buy new, consider purchasing from a green seller like the Fair Trade Federation or the National Green Pages. Both can point you towards an incredible selection of responsibly manufactured pieces that will bolster the greenness of your interior design.

Rely on Recycling

A last word on furniture replacement: one more good strategy is to purchase furniture and decorative items that have been made from recycled materials, like metal, glass, or even plastic. You can discover some amazing pieces made out of material that was previously destined for the scrap heap. If you’re artistically minded or skilled in furniture building, you could even design your own pieces out of recycled materials!

Embracing the green movement in your home’s interior design is actually a fairly simple task. As long as you’re mindful of the origin and composition of the items you bring into your house, you make the world a better place while making your home a better place to live. Your family – and the earth – will thank you.