From Candon Murphy, Interior Designer at MG2

  1. Consider craftsperson’s. When you are wanting something new for your home, think about locally made. Think about artists that are working and building in your area. Consider Etsy, where you can search by location to find a local maker. Farmer’s markets. A lot of furniture stores will showcase goods from local makers. Antique malls do not only just have vintage stuff; sometimes they have locally made. Also, Instagram. Facebook Marketplace. Even Amazon lets you search for local artisans in your region.
  1. When you need to buy online, do the research on where things are coming from. Really understand the origin of whatever piece you are buying, do your best to purchase from makers who are as close to your home as possible. The fastest way to do this is to call the company and ask them for information on the product, but most product pages have info on where the product is made. Deeper research can be done on the manufacturer simply by googling. 

For example – If you are purchasing a mattress, there are so many companies, and they have these FAQ pages and hotlines where you can find out a lot of sustainability information. More and more companies are adding this info because people are asking the questions. Candon called and asked about manufacturing locations; “If I’m a customer in the Seattle area, where would my mattress be coming from?” 

  1. Think about the purity of materials you are bringing into your home. When you really want to consider a sustainable home, you want to think about natural materials. Ones like wool, bamboo, cotton, and linen. Make sure you are avoiding materials that are harmful like vinyl and fire retardants. Things like your furniture and bed sheets are a good start, but also things like interiors of your upholsteries are worth considering. Choose silicon over vinyl. If you are considering remodeling your home, avoid the use of artificial wood products, which are not biodegradable. Consider real wood, and if it is local, all the better. 
  1. Avoid chemicals that are harmful. We mentioned fire retardants already, but there are many chemicals in our built environments and in the products, we purchase that eventually leech into our living environment. We want to avoid those as much as possible. There are a few ways to do this – There is the UL spot database: these list items that have high levels of air quality. Consider it a consumer report for indoor air quality and health where you can search thousands of products. There are also other indoor air quality certs on the market. Talking about mattresses again, they may have an indoor air quality cert listed on their website, for example, CertiPureUS.
  1. Focus on company transparency, not the numbers or even the certifications. If I as a consumer am willing to spend the time to do the research, I expect to get real answers from the companies that I am asking these questions to, and I know to avoid companies that will not give me the answers, or do not know the answers. There are so many companies readily offering this information, on their websites or over the phone, and those are the ones we want to support and whose products we want to purchase.
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