Similar to creating a more conscious wardrobe, building an ethical home from the ground up could take a very long time and quite a bit of energy. However, unlike the clothes your wear every day, pieces in your home can last a lot longer. While we love longlasting homewares, this can create a bit of a morally sticky situation.
If you have a full home, the dilemma usually occurs when you begin to research the way your homewares are made and how this process has impacted the world as well as the lives of the people who made it. Knowing that a piece of furniture or decor comes with baggage can instantly change your feelings about an item.
If you've discovered your homewares were made unethically, this may make you wish you never bought them at all. A cushion that used to tie a space together might become tainted with feelings of uncertainty, or worse; guilt. A rug that you used to adore may now make your stomach twist and turn with every step. However, it's comforting to know that this is a very common feeling.
In fact, we’re here to show that you don’t have to feel bad about the decor you bought before now! Rather, accepting these items and learning from them is the only way that homes around Australia – and the world – are going to realistically create more ethical homes.
It simply wouldn’t be realistic or sustainable to throw your life treasures away and start from scratch. However, it might be a bit more attainable and earth-friendly to build an ethical home over time. Here’s how:
1. Don’t say goodbye to pieces simply because they weren’t ethically made
This would be counteractive! In fact, unethical pieces are the ones that you really have to care for. Chances are, if you’re an advocate for ethical manufacturing and you understand the impact and value of every item in your home, then all your decor will live a longer and happier life in your hands. We will always recommend keeping an item you adore for this reason, even if it wasn’t made ethically.
However, if you need to say goodbye to a piece of decor for any other reason, sell it or donate it – unless, for course, it is so worn that it doesn’t serve its purpose anymore.
Keeping what you love (or selling or donating what you don’t) will prevent items from going to landfill and stop even more waste from polluting our precious earth!
The absolute best thing you can do for the future of your ethical interior is to do your research!
Learn about sustainable fabrics such as organic cotton, linen, and hemp, and read about all the factors that make a manufacturer ethical. Research the differences between all these buzzwords. Finally, find ways to stay up-to-date with news about the ethical and Fair Trade industries so you can be the first to hear about innovations and progress!
Actively educating yourself and becoming involved is the best way to make a confident decision when you purchase a new item for your home. You will be able to ensure that your values align with those of the product and manufacturer. You will also feel satisfied with your choice, which helps you to love your new purchase even more!
3. Shop slowly
The best way to build an ethical home that you love is to build it over time and with intention. Shopping slowly means replacing items you love only when they are worn and unusable. When you need to replace an item, shopping slowly means using what you know about ethical homewares to choose the best option that aligns with your values. It doesn’t mean running to the closest warehouse and frantically purchasing the cheapest replacement that somewhat matches the style and proportions you had in mind – something that we’ve probably all been guilty of at some stage!
If you don’t need to replace anything but instead need to fill a gap in your home, shopping slowly also means only buying what you truly need. For many, a minimalist home is the most ethical home and is certainly achievable with a modern coastal style. However, many people find that extreme minimalism simply isn’t achievable and that’s okay!
Whether you prefer a minimalist space or not, slow shopping means always investing in quality decor and always supporting ethical and Fair Trade manufacturers.
The fact is that it would cost a lot of money and time to replace all your homewares. Keeping decor that you love, even if it may have some baggage, is expected and completely encouraged as long as you’re trying to improve and are willing to learn and to build your ethical home consciously and slowly.
The really great part about all this is that every ethical product you do introduce into your home not only helps it look even nicer, but also dials up the feel good factor in that space, times a million.
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What struggles have you come across in your own journey to create an ethical home? We'd love to know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!