When It Comes to Decorating Your Apartment, Go Green… But Stay Chic

Over the past few years, the apartment-hunting experts at ABODO have noticed two overriding trends: People of all ages are moving back to city centers to rent, and they’re looking to live in environmentally-conscious buildings. Living in the city shortens commutes and lessens carbon emissions. And advances in eco-friendly construction are making a marked difference in energy consumption. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified buildings — which are built from sustainable materials to save energy and water, and to limit harmful gas emissions —are expected to save up to $1.2 billion in energy costs between 2012 and 2018.

But what about the interior of your apartment? How can you extend the noble effort to conserve energy, limit harmful emissions, and increase efficiency inside your apartment, while still presenting an elegant, impeccably-designed interior? We’ve got a few ideas.

Compost… Even Inside

You might think that composting your food waste is only possible if you have a yard… and a large, unsightly bucket. But indoor composting is possible, even without a worm farm. Electric composters like the Smart Cara Food Recycling System are energy-efficient, quiet, and easy to use. They’re also sleek and small enough to fit under your kitchen sink.

Reclaimed Wood

Furniture made from reclaimed wood doesn’t just look good—it minimizes your impact on the world’s forests. Reclaimed wood is stronger than most synthetic material, and every piece is unique, with a patina that implies a long and rich history. Pieces like this reclaimed Indonesian teak table are stylish, sturdy, and sustainable.

Recycled Glass

The high heat necessary to melt sand, dolomite, and other materials into glass leads to the production of greenhouse gasses. Recycled glass doesn’t require as much heat, substantially reducing emissions. And though you don’t have much control over the windows in your apartment, recycled glass is great for plates, bowls, and kitchen utensils. These recycled glass vases could add a whimsical, homespun touch to your dining or living room.

All Natural Fabrics, Ethically Sourced

Natural fabrics like wool and cotton are soft, breathable, and look great. Plus, it’s relatively easy to find fair trade, ethically made products that are also completely natural. These striped bath towels are 100% cotton and are made by female artisans in Ethiopia. They’re also fair trade, which means that the people who make them are compensated fairly for their work.

Furniture That Supports the Earth… and Your Back

You can have ethically sourced, 100% natural textiles on top of your bed or your couch, but what about the inside? Many mattresses and couch cushions are filled with synthetic materials whose production leaves a huge carbon footprint. Consider soy-filled couch cushions or a mattress made from coconut husk fibers, latex made from rubber sap, or memory foam with a high plant-oil content. And don’t fall for marketing gimmicks: Make sure your product is certified by a trusted third-party organization, like OEKO Tex Standard 100 or Global Organic Textile Standard, both of which ensure that producers conform to exacting sustainability standards.