Archive for the ‘Interior Design’ Category
March 24th, 2009
Most cardboard has a pretty high recycled content — and can be easily re-recycled or composted to boot. Plus, cardboard’s also an inexpensive material that’s light and, usually, flat — characteristics that make cardboard furniture affordable (usually, at least) to make and ship. All these qualities are making cardboard — something we often think of as a low quality, one-use, disposable product — a popular material for serious eco furniture designers!
Cardboard’s an especially popular material for children’s furniture — perhaps because easy-to-recycle cardboard makes sense to use for pint-sized chairs and little cradles kids will quickly outgrow. Green Lullaby’s Eco-Cradle (above), for example, is an all-cardboard cradle made with over 60% recycled pulp! Eco-Cradle ships flat and can be assembled quickly without tools — and can also be disassembled and re-flattened to be easily stored away for the next baby. The Eco-Cradle’s available for $99.50 at Olive and Bean Boutique.
Another cardboard baby bed option’s the customizable cardboard cot by Album di Famiglia (above). However, this boxy cot’s very pricey! Parents will have to spend $220 Euros plus UPS shipping to the U.S. at the Little Fashion Gallery to get this cot.
Lots of other kid furniture’s available at Cardboardesign, a company that offers a basic kids’ drawing table ($58) and chair (2 for $45) — but then thinks outside the cardboard box to create everything from an all-cardboard lemonade stand to a rocket to a play castle too (above). The kids can certainly enjoy playing with and using these toys and furniture, but half the fun seems to be in the assembling and decorating of these cardboard structures. Each product comes with assembly instructions — and a packaway flat box for storage.
Cardboardesign also makes furniture for adults! The light, easily assembled, flat-packed tables and chairs are especially popular with eco-companies with booths at expos and conferences, since the furniture travels easy. I see them being great for bake sales or other community events. Why lug big heavy tables and chairs around when you can easily get the same setup from a flat cardboard box?
Those cardboard pieces can apparently withstand 600 lbs of weight according to Cardboardesign’s website, but even more sturdy looking shelves, chairs, and desks — like the one above — are also available from the company.
For those willing to shop for their furniture from afar, ReturDesign Studio in Sweden offers a very large variety of furniture, ranging from basic tables and chairs to beautiful sofas (above), functional display units, and gorgeous lamps. According to CNET, ReturDesign gets many customers from U.S.! To be one of them though, you’ll need deal with currency exchanges and international shipping.
Not willing to fork over that kind of cash for — cardboard? Then try your hand at making your own cardboard furniture. Foldschool has free patterns and detailed instructions for making a stool, chair, or rocker for kids!
Up for a bigger challenge? Check out this Instructables post on how to design your own cardboard furniture. These instructions were taken from a video — How Things Are Made: Cardboard Furniture — featuring Eric Guiomar of the Les Cartonnistes, a collective of French cardboard furniture makers! (via Apartment Therapy)
Photos via Olive and Bean Boutique, Little Fashion Gallery, Cardboardesign, ReturDesign Studio, and Foldschool
Popularity: 16% [?]
March 10th, 2009
As you may recall, we launched a Green Home Contest a while back, which comes with a truly outstanding prize provided by Joie de Vivre Hotels, the leading green hotel chain. Well we have our winners! We are inspired and awed by Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne, who truly embrace the Low Impact Living lifestyle in their home. We all have a ton to learn from them. Erik and Kelly win a fabulous 3-night stay at the very environmentally-friendly Hotel Carlton in San Francisco– and boy do they deserve it!
Erik and Kelly own a small bungalow in Los Angeles. Not only do they live in a very sustainable home, the also do their own farming and raise chickens at home! The two of them live in a 1,000 square foot house, which they have outfitted with numerous green features. Here’s their impressive list:
- Low-flow showerheads, toilets and sink aerators
- 95+% CFLs indoors
- Drip irrigation and no grass
- Rain shutoff on irrigation system AND smart irrigation controller
- Shade trees planted
- Compost vegetable wastes at home
- Rain barrels & rain gardens to capture runoff
- Programmable thermostat
- Graywater system(shhh…don’t ask to see the permits)
- Purchase green power from their utility
In addition to these very efficient green-home features, Erik and Kelly also keep their carbon footprint low by driving and flying very little. Erik is a committed biker. He bike commutes and rarely uses a car. His wife, Kelly, owns an older Acura but only drives it 4,000 miles per year (which is much lower than the 10-12K miles/year American average!). They also only make one airplane flight each year– don’t forget that the emissions from air travel are a major contributor to global warming. So Erik and Kelly really have low non-home carbon footprints, which is excellent.
What is even better is that this amazing green duo also publishes an outstanding blog– the cleverly titled Homegrown Evolution. They write about such engaging topics as urban gardening, raising chickens, making beer, and much more. Definitely spend some time on their blog– it’s a great read. And I’m also excited to check out their book– The Urban Homestead, which is “your guide to self-sufficient living in the heart of the city.” They say they are now working on a second book. This is one productive pair!
We respectfully tip our hats to Kelly and Erik, and we hope they have a wonderful time in San Francisco. Thank you to all who entered the contest– we’re very moved by the work you are doing to live more sustainable lives. The planet needs you!
Popularity: 6% [?]
March 5th, 2009
A friend of mine is just about to have a baby, and she asked me for my thoughts on what kind of carpet or rug they should get for the nursery. Naturally, we here at Low Impact Living have many suggestions!
First, most commercially-made carpet is loaded with nasty chemicals which can off-gas and pose health risks to your baby and your family. (Learn more about indoor air quality.) Many carpets contain a chemical called 4-phenylcyclohexene (4-PCH), which is a byproduct of the latex binder used to secure the fibers to the backing. 4-PCH is a volatile-organic compound (VOC) that off-gases and is unhealthy to breathe.
Remember that babies and small children are more susceptable to air-borne toxins than we adults, so it’s particularly important to make good choices in nursery’s and childrens’ rooms. So I would say “no thanks” to most wall-to-wall carpet options. (In fact clean, natural, bare flooring options like reclaimed hardwood flooring or Marmoleum (shown at right) are really the best option from a health perspective–because they don’t trap allergans and chemicals like rugs and carpets do. But some people may not like these harder surfaces for little legs and arms crawling and knocking about!
How about a cork floor? Cork is a wonderful option because it is a renewable resource, dampens sounds (great for sleeping babies), and is soft on little bodies. Cork is harvested by shaving off the “bark” of the tree– trees are not killed in the process. I think a cork floor in a nursery would be green and groovy!
But if you’re set on getting some kind of carpet or rug, you have many great options.
You might consider a hemp rug. Hemp is a wonderfully sustainable material and is also durable and comfortable. Abundant Earth makes lovely hemp rugs made free of child labor in India, as does Rawganique, which uses European hemp fibers.
Other sustainable fibers include sisal, seagrass, and jute. All are rapidly renewable and can be woven into lovely rugs. They are also super durable and hold up great with the “spills and thrills” of children. Natural Area Rugs.com has a huge selection of all of these materials.
How about putting some Japanese flair into your room? Japanese Igusa mats are made out of sustainably-harvested, quickly regenerating rushes and are durable, beautiful, and comfortable. Raku Livingsells wonderful igusa mats for homes– and they have a super cute kids line with adorable bunnies, monkeys and elephants–oh my!
Popularity: 5% [?]
February 24th, 2009
Written by Alex Felsinger, courtesy of Green Building Elements.com
While any structure built in a way that lessens its footprint is welcomed, some of the buildings that people try to turn green simply make no sense.
LEED certification, in all its greatness, does not take the building’s intended purpose into account; this leaves us with some hilarious, unabashedly self-contradicting buildings. Here are the ten of the most laughable green buildings:
1. BP’s Helios House Gas Station - Los Angeles, Cal.
Yes, there is an LEED-certified gas station. It’s actually a nice building, complete with rainwater collection, solar panels, recycled building materials, and LED lighting. However, don’t think you’ll be able to refuel with biodiesel or charge up your electric car—they’re only in the petroleum-dealing business. How green of them, right?
2. Justin Timberlake’s Golf Course/Lodge - Woodstock, Tenn.
So Justin Timberlake decided that he wants to buy a golf course and fix it up with an LEED-certified lodge. While it’s an improvement compared to most other golf courses, the fact remains that maintaining a golf course takes chemicals and lots of water. In the United States alone, golf courses total more than 1.7 million acres and consume around 4 billion gallons of water every day. How does a green lodge counteract the water used to maintain the course? Justin, if you really want to be green, you should have turned it into a wildlife sanctuary instead.
3. Nestle Pure Life Water Bottling Plant - Boiling Springs, Tenn.
While this isn’t the only LEED-certified water bottling plant, it’s listed for having the most greenwashed name. Ozarka, Arrowhead, Ice Mountain, and Deer Park water bottling plants also have LEED certifications of some sort, but they couldn’t compete with Pure Life in the name department. If anyone needs a reminder of why bottling water is a bad idea, here are five reasons to ditch the bottle. Oh, and Nestle as a whole won’t be getting an award for their treatment of the planet and its people any time soon.
4. Logan Airport Terminal A - Boston, Mass.
Activists in England have put their freedom on the line protesting against a third runway at the enormous Heathrow Airport; do you think they’d be more satisfied with the runway if the airport terminal was LEED certified, with solar panels and the whole bit? You’d be right to assume they wouldn’t, because whether they take off from a green building or not, airplanes are still one of the top causes of global warming.
5. Toyota Car Dealership - Rockwall, Tex.
While Toyota is almost synonymous with green when it comes to cars, in reality they’re not much better than any other car company. They have a full line of vehicles, including four-wheel-drive SUV’s, some of which are 8-cylinder. In fact, their entire fleet’s average gas mileage is worse than Chevrolet’s. Perhaps they should clean up their cars before trying to green their dealerships?
6. Antilia Tower - Mumbai, India
While this probably will not be LEED certified, it has been often mentioned as being one of the greenest building concepts on the planet. While it does look beautiful and will act as a giant carbon sink in the middle of the city, there’s a major problem: it will be the home of one family. No matter how green this building is, that is a complete waste of space in a city known for its overcrowding.
7. Civic Center Parking Garage - Santa Monica, Cal.
The only green parking garage I want to see would be located at a train or bus station for people to drop off their cars to finish their commute on mass transit. To quote every politician involved in the 2008 campaign, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”
8. Vacation Home Development - Las Vegas, Nev.
You only need one house, people! Granted that seven of these eight homes are 1/12 shares, these homes are being built in a desert (Las Vegas) and if anyone needs a water-capture system, it’s people who live there year-around. Simply due to their excess, vacation homes may be the least environmentally-friendly structures on earth.
9. Spaceport America - New Mexico
Another case of the rich attempting to make the rest of us think they’re doing the world a favor. Recreational space travel, at least with the current technology, is a huge and unnecessary carbon polluter. But hey, the spaceport will be LEED certified, so everything’s going to be fine, right?
10. Every Fancy New Building - Dubai, United Arab Emirates
I know, I know — I cheated on this one. I couldn’t pick just one since they’re all ridiculous for the same reason. The government is intent on making Dubai one of the biggest, most gaudy places on earth. Perhaps to compensate for unending excess, they’ve mandated that all new buildings must have specific eco-minded properties, but when you take all of it in at once, you know it’s nothing but a giant waste of resources.Image Credits: (All Flickr under CC License) Top from J. Phil on Flickr. 1. danperry.com on Flickr 2. BP 3. Macon County, TN 4. MileageNYC on Flickr 5. Dushaun on Flickr 6. Concept illustration 7. City of Santa Monica 8. Emre Ersahin 9. Spaceport America 10. utpal. on Flickr
Popularity: 5% [?]
February 20th, 2009
Written by Brian Liloia, courtesy of Green Building Elements.com
Last week I talked about how to live simply and decrease your carbon footprint living in a tiny house. Even better than buying a tiny house is making your own, and Michael Janzen is blazing a trail with his free tiny pallet house. Not only is his house made out of recycled shipping pallets, it isn’t costing him anything to build. And lucky for us, he’s sharing his plans so you too can build your own tiny free house.
You can save money, sharpen your DIY skills, and further decrease your environmental impact by following Janzen’s example of building a free pallet house.
Keep pallets out of landfills
Here are some disturbing statistics about shipping pallets:
- Approximately 40% of all hardwood harvested in the U.S. is for making shipping pallets
- About two-thirds of pallets are used only once before being thrown out
- 1/4 of all wood in landfills is from used pallets
You can help prevent deforestation and keep pallets out of landfills by finding creative alternative uses for them, like building a house. Pallets can be found everywhere. Once you start looking for them, you’ll see them scattered all over your town or city.
Contact a local warehouse, supermarket, or any business that receives large shipments, and get permission to pick up their used pallets. Most companies are happy to give their pallets away.
Plans for a free pallet house
Janzen has made plans for building a free pallet house available on his website. These plans are a guide for building what he calls a disaster preparedness and emergency shelter. Janzen says:
As hurricane Gustav plowed across Cuba headed for the gulf coast of the United States memories of Katrina and the potential displacement of thousands got me thinking. I wanted to do something to help. It occurred to me that someone else might find what I now about building with shipping pallets useful in the coming weeks and months.
With some creativity, you may find that shipping pallets can be reappropriated in other ways to build your own free tiny house. For example, I have a friend that has disassembled shipping pallets and used the wood to build roof trusses for his straw bale building.
Ultimately, you can help prevent deforestation and keep pallets out of landfills by using them to build creative housing.
Think tiny and free!
Popularity: 6% [?]