Let’s be real, when you buy your homewares from Kmart, you’re not going to be able to pass it down to your kids in 50 years. Sure, you might be able to buy a throw rug for a few bucks, but that rug is definitely going to dissolve the second you spill a glass of wine on it.
So while Kmart has some great, affordable options for furnishing your first apartment, if you’re interested in upgrading to something longer-lasting and more environmentally-friendly, you’ve come to the right place.
I’m going to assume that you’re not here cause you’ve already gone to town on the eco-home trend and are currently living in a clay igloo in the mountains. Thankfully, it doesn’t take a whole lifestyle reversal to make some sustainable interior design choices.
If you’re going to go for furniture that won’t cost the Earth, be prepared to offset it with the cash money cost. 1825 Interiors uses reclaimed timber, which consumes less energy to produce, and leaves more forest intact. A piece from 1825 won’t cost you a heap more than the IKEA equivalent, and it’ll come with a build-in rustic feel.
Sometimes, though, we want to embrace our wackier side and express it through our design choices, and I can’t think of a better way to do that than to get a decorative bowl or garden planter from Lil Gas, who have taken upcycling to the max. No, your eyes don’t deceive you, those are definitely the same gas bottles you’d find your dad struggling out to the barbeque with.
When buying bedding, it’s tempting to go for the cheap polyester, but as well as not being biodegradable, it’s just not as comfy as cotton! Though cotton uses a lot of water, it’s really the lesser of two evils, and Pottery Barn Australia has this cute bed set on sale. It’s even Oeko-Tex® certified, meaning it’s good for you and the environment.
Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the kitchen. The big trend in sustainable dinnerware right now is bamboo, which is super renewable because it grows back in less than five years! Impact Eco Tableware have sets in a range of colours and patterns, and though the price tag is a little hefty, isn’t it worth it for the aesthetic?
While you’re cooking up a storm, you’ve got to keep your hands safe from hot surfaces. After all, no one is going to enjoy your muffins if they’re seared flesh flavoured. RoomArecycledJEANS are a Sydney-based Etsy store who have really embraced the ‘upcycling’ trend. You’d be sure to make a dinner party fashion statement with their denim oven gloves. Etsy itself is a great place to look for recycled homeware products- you’ll always be guaranteed to find unique items that get your guests talking.
Now that you’ve got all the necessities, it’s time to break out the dècor! Scented candles are great because they satisfy all of the senses (except taste – please do not lick the fire). Your standard paraffin wax candles are an environmental bummer though, so swap them out for beeswax, soy or coconut wax alternative- they’re all clean-burning and don’t release any nasty carcinogens. Luckily, these are pretty easy to find nowadays. For an even eco-friendlier twist, try a Rewined candle. Not only will they satisfy your pinot grigio craving, they’re contained in reused bottles!
All these interior ideas are one thing, but what do you do when you’re headed out to the office? We create the most waste when we’re out and about, so make sure you’re taking your lunch in a reusable container. Tupperware has great news – their products are both BPA free and recyclable, plus you get that famous lifetime guarantee. If you’ve sworn off plastic forever, (very noble), Seed & Sprout have The Full Monty of lunch kits with their zero-waste bundle. And when you get to the office and find you’ve been designated coffee lackey, keep your coworkers’ consciences clear by using an Aussie-made Stay Tray.
And whatever you do, don’t discount a garage sale! Buying secondhand furniture is the most environmentally-friendly (and budget-friendly) decision you can make. Not only are you rejecting the norms of mass consumption – very chic – but you’re also preventing more perfectly usable goods from ending up in landfill. Maybe the seller is even on a regifting bonanza and you’ll get a brand new item, while doing them a favour.
Go for a browse on Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace, and you’ll even find some goodies listed for free! Sure, there might be a scratch here or there, but nothing you can’t hide with a fun coconut candle.