Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Urban Eco Chic home accessories: Eco-Vases

From page 158 of Urban Eco Chic by Oliver Heath:

There is a good variety of recycled glass vases available, from everyday cylindrical ones to adventurous pieces. But a glass vase does not need to be big to display its eco-credentials. Dutch designer Tord Boontje, with his partner Emma Woofenden, has created a beautiful set of vases made from cut and frosted wine bottles. Manufactured by a Guatemalan cooperative aimed at getting artisans off the street and back into work, they are part of the Design with Conscience Campaign.

Although not very big, they hold a simple stem or a few flowers.

(From Urban Eco Chic by Oliver Heath from Quadrille Publishing. Used with permission from the publisher).

Urban Eco Chic bedrooms: Vintage elements create an intimate environment

The use of vintage items in the bedroom imparts an individual identity onto the space— after all, it is your private area, so make it unique to you, with treasured items that you enjoy and that say something about who you are.

-Personal collections and objects displayed in your bedroom will reflect you and your experiences, allowing you to relax into a space that suits you perfectly.

-Vintage items can also add a romantic quality, allowing you to revel in a sense of nostalgia about your life or shared experiences with your partner, be they mementos of time spent together or pieces chosen in antique stores, markets, or on travels.

-Even in a bedroom, the softening effect of vintage pieces on the harder edges of a clean-cut contemporary space is useful. A worn leather armchair might be juxtaposed with a modern cabinet, for example, to set up an enticing visual contrast.

(From Urban Eco Chic by Oliver Heath from Quadrille Publishing. Used with permission from the publisher. Photo credit: House Beautiful magazine).

Urban Eco Chic bathrooms

After the kitchen, the bathroom is where we use the most resources - water, heat, electricity. Urban Eco Chic has a section on ways to make your bathroom earth-friendly. Here are some ideas on going green in the bathroom:

Water-saving devices
Did you know 30% of all water used in the home is flushed down the toilet? To reduce this waste, install a low-flow or dual-flush toilet and while you're at it, install low-flow shower heads and faucets. You can also purchase a gray-water system, which reuses water from the bath or sink for flushing the toilet, to reduce water consumption up to 30%. (For a complete analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of this system, see page 117 of Urban Eco Chic).

1. Keep your showers under five minutes, and keep baths to a minimum.
2. Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth.
3. Fit flow restrictors to faucet valves.
4. Fit a water displacement device in your toilet.
5. Turn down the temperature on your hot water heater; it is pointless to mix scalding
water with cold—this wastes water and fuel.

Choose a smaller bathtub (less than 66" by 27") or shower instead.

Part-tile and part-paint your walls with an eco-friendly, eggshell finish paint.

Recycled rubber flooring, cork tiles, linoleum, solid wood, rubber or ceramic tiles are all eco-friendly options.

To create a truly multifunctional space that refreshes you in the morning and relaxes you
after an exhausting day, maximize natural light levels.

(From Urban Eco Chic by Oliver Heath from Quadrille Publishing. Used with permission from the publisher. Photo credit: Kohler Bathrooms).

Urban Eco Chic home offices

How to set up an eco-friendly home office

A home office increases the pressure on your
personal space but also offers environmental
benefits. By using all that technology has to offer, you
can create a more efficient workspace— one
that uses less electricity and other resources,
such as paper. Here's how:

1. Turn off all appliances when you finish for
the day. In some cases, you may need to
unplug them; check the instruction manual or
your dealer

2. Make the most of communication
technologies, such as digital imaging;
conference calling, and broadband, in order to
reduce the need for travel and mailing items.

3. Use recycled paper in your printer;
print on both sides of paper (though you
may need a thicker grade of paper to do this).

4. Keep two wastebaskets—one for ordinary trash and one specifically for paper and
envelopes—this also makes paper easier to reuse, provided you do not crush it up.

5. Recycle your empty printer cartridges

6. Recycle obsolete items of I.T.— look online for charities that will take old computers and printers away for use in schools or developing countries or for local community groups, such as freecycle. org. If it is totally out of date, contact your local government, who can advise how best to dispose of any items without sending them to landfill.

(From Urban Eco Chic by Oliver Heath from Quadrille Publishing. Used with permission from the publisher. Photo credit: House Beautiful magazine).

Four steps to an eco-conscious bedroom

1. Cut down on energy use, in the form of heating and lighting

2. Minimize toxins in materials and finishes

3. Reduce the levels of dust, which can lead to asthmas and allergies.

4. Use organic, fair-trade fabrics for bed linens, thereby easing your eco-conscience for a really good night's sleep.

Key eco-questions to ask of every material and product:

Where has it come from?
Is it from a naturally renewable source?
Was it made in a nonpolluting, energy-efficient way?
Were the rights of the workers respected with good conditions, reasonable hours, and fair pay?
Will it travel vast distances to reach me?
Can I chose a locally made product instead?

How will I use it?
Will it be energy efficient, saving me money and saving the environment carbon emissions?
Is it built to last, or will it fall apart as soon as the guarantee ends?
Is it easy to maintain and fix?
Am I able to get spare parts easily?

Where will it go once I am done with it?

Can I pass it on to someone else to use after I have finished with it?
Can I recycle it easily?
Will it biodegrade?