Reducing waste in the bedroom

This blog post is part of our “Room by Room” mini-series, where we look into ways to reduce waste across all divisions of a household. You can find all the articles listed here.

NO WASTE IN THE BEDROOM? THINK AGAIN!

You may think that the epicentre of waste reduction in the house is the kitchen, but there are many other products we all use at home that are becoming ‘fast fashion’ too, even furniture!

We can all keep waste reduction ideas in mind when shopping for anything new – in fact does it even need to be new? Recycled furniture can be fun and creative and even add value to your home – what are antiques after all, if not recycled and reused objects?

Here are some tips on the most common replaceable items in your bedroom:

Bed/mattress

The main thing to keep in mind when you need furniture is that quality lasts longer, so invest in the sturdiest bed you can afford and it will last you many years. The adage that things were made to last ‘in the old days’ is often true, so check out some second-hand furniture stores before you consider the cheap but flimsy options at the big chain stores.

The same goes for your new mattress – buy the best quality you can afford and it should last you up to 10 years, instead of buying a cheap replacement every few years. The materials in the mattress are important too. Ask the sales assistants exactly what their mattresses are made of, and whether any have credentials such as sustainable rubber/cotton sources. The more often consumers ask these questions, the more suppliers will need to have an answer!

Bed linen

Again, sustainable fibres rule here. Some cotton farming practices use an excessive amount of water, but if you do your research before going shopping for sheets/doonas/covers, you may find that some brands have more ethical farming credentials. Wool is becoming increasingly used in doonas and mattress covers, and has great warming and cooling properties which make it worth the investment. As well, other sustainable fibres such as bamboo have become popular alternatives to cotton bed linen. (Though if you live in a very wet or cold area, keep in mind that bamboo linen takes much longer to dry than cotton.)

Furnishings

Other furniture and accessories in your bedroom can be made from plastics – such as polyester or acrylic upholstery on chairs, lamp shades, cushions and rugs. While all these small items can provide creative and cheap opportunities to update your bedroom, keep in mind the materials they are made from.

And again, check out some op shops, markets or second-hand furniture stores for some really unique touches to your bedroom decor.

Clothing

This one is obvious – your next Seaside Scavenge is the solution!

Lighting

For ceiling lights and bedside lamps, opt for energy efficient light bulbs wherever possible. When buying lightshades, try to find the ones that incorporate the most natural materials possible such as glass, wood and cotton.

Entertainment equipment

As we know, electronic devices are the fastest fashion of all, as we often replace our devices every year or two. But if you use AV equipment for playing music or viewing in your bedroom, you can opt for longer-lasting items here, or even buy second-hand. When someone is selling their large TV screen or speakers on eBay/freecycle/Gumtree, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work – sometimes people downsize their house and offload perfectly good equipment or upgrade their AV or music systems – and it could be to your advantage!

Cleaning

As with the rest of your house, always use the most natural non-toxic cleaning products you can. Check out the many books and websites with easy instructions on making your own cleaning products. But even if you don’t make your own baking soda/vinegar alternatives, there are many low-environmental-impact washing powders and floor cleaners easily available to buy.

And do you really need a new vacuum cleaner? Vacuums are not only made of non-sustainable materials but they use heaps of power and produce unhealthy fine dust as well. Perhaps the old-fashioned method of sweeping and mopping the floor is more hygienic, or even efficient!

Your local markets will probably have some great options for cleaning cloths/tools/products that won’t harm our waterways or wildlife. And buying local means you will help support your local community as well.