Looking ahead to the new year, it's clear that sustainability is going to be top of mind in 2022. This pertains to all facets of living: sustainable home design, sustainable buying, and sustainable gardens and yard work will all prevail in 2022. Below, experts share the ways in which consumers, designers, and homeowners can better embrace sustainable practices in their home life.
Meet the Expert
- Dr. Erica Dodds is the COO of the Foundation for Climate Restoration and sustainability, climate change and eco-anxiety expert.
- Zoe Feldman is a designer whose eponymous firm focuses on tackling environmental issues and incorporating green practices.
- Rebecca Hay is the president and principal designer of Rebecca Hay Designs.
Adjusting Shopping Habits
According to Dr. Erica Dodds, COO of the Foundation for Climate Restoration and sustainability, climate change and eco-anxiety expert, there are a few ways in which sustainability will shine through in our shopping habits. First, she notes, minimalism will become more prominent. "As we become increasingly more conscious of our environmental impact, minimalism will gain in popularity," Dodds explains. "Buying fewer consumer goods and being more intentional with our purchases will help us drastically reduce our carbon footprints."
When consumers do buy new items, turning to secondhand resources will become key. "There’s a reason why they say 'vintage never goes out of style,'" Dodds comments. "Instead of buying furniture that is completely new, homeowners will look to restore vintage pieces that can be passed down from generation to generation."
Being Mindful While Sourcing Items
Designer Zoe Feldman has similar views. "I think the biggest design trends we will see in the coming year will heavily involve reducing consumption of non-renewable resources, minimizing waste, and creating healthy, natural environments," she shares. "This can be done through shopping vintage for furniture and textiles or looking for items made with recycled goods, being aware of the harmful chemicals in paints and finishes, and working with natural light to reduce energy consumption."
With regard to paints in particular, designer Rebecca Hay shares some useful insight: "For a paint company to be truly eco-friendly, they should be able to provide evidence by telling you what ingredients they use ... Traditional paints that contain plastic create a plastic barrier on walls when applied trapping air. Eco-friendly paints should be breathable as a result of using only natural ingredients."
Renting Furniture to Enjoy Trends
Renting furniture items is another trend that is in line with sustainable practices yet still allows consumers to enjoy the latest looks, notes Kimberly White, Head of Home Quality Standards & Design at Vacasa. "I see furniture rentals taking off, not just because the model caters to those seeking to curate their home aesthetic, but because it has the potential to reduce waste that’s often a byproduct of evolving trends."
Engaging in Eco-Friendly Construction
Opting for environmentally friendly flooring will be key moving ahead, Hay adds. "It may come as a surprise (or not) that many interior design products—such as hardwood, tile, wallpaper, furniture, and fabrics—are not sustainably sourced," she comments. "Sustainable flooring is any flooring that has little or no impact on the environment during production, use, and end of life cycle (disposal)."
Sustainable construction will also be significant. Hay explains that the renovation industry is actually more environmentally damaging than new construction. "A lot of products go to landfills," she explains. "The majority of this waste is not recycled, which is why I always recommend to prioritize a quality remodel with materials that can either be reused or recycled in the future. Make sure you’re doing your due diligence and asking your builder to provide you with safe and eco-friendly options."
Better Gardening and Outdoor Living
Gardening should be seen as more than just a relaxing outdoor hobby. It is also a way to help the planet. "Gardening is sustainable by its very nature," Walter Reeves of The Georgia Gardener notes. "What other task starts with dirt and seed and ends with food to eat plus waste material that improves the soil nearby?"
Specifically, "Creating outdoor gardens that preserve and protect nature are becoming increasingly popular," Dodds shares. "Protecting and attracting pollinators—for instance, through establishing bee sanctuaries—are key for allowing gardens and Mother Earth to thrive."
And the items we use to decorate our outdoor spaces will shift, too, says Stephanie Miller of Zero Waste in DC. "I expect continued strong demand for furniture and decking made with recycled plastic, because of its durability, sustainability, and the continued popularity of designing more green spaces in a post-pandemic era."
Chapter 5: Indoor Air Pollutants and Toxic Materials. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.