As we enter 2017, the environment continues to be at the forefront of many of our minds. Making environmentally conscious choices benefits every living thing on earth; from global ecosystems right down to the health of our own families. Every little bit helps, so whether you are a seasoned tree-hugger or are making a new commitment to improve your environmental footprint, why not start at home? Believe it or not, even your choice of window treatments can be eco-friendly! And you won’t have to compromise on style either… Here are four ways to make your windows eco-friendly:
Choose sustainable materials
Natural woven shades made out of reeds, grasses, jute, and perhaps the most popular, bamboo, are biodegradable, renewable, and sustainable. Bamboo not only grows rapidly (up to 24 inches per day!), but its wide root system even helps prevent soil erosion. Natural woven shades come in a variety of weaves and styles. On their own they pleasantly filter light, but they can be lined for greater privacy and light blocking. Blinds and shutters can be made from sustainable woods. Wood blinds have the added benefit of being easier to clean than their dust-clinging vinyl counterparts, making them more allergy-friendly. Organic hemp, cotton and linen offer sustainable, chemical free fabric options. Also look for options made from recycled materials!
Choose natural dyes and treatments
Organic fabrics such as cotton, hemp, and linen should be complemented by natural dyes which are free from harsh chemicals that are bad for the environment and your health. When choosing shades, shutters, and even hardware, look for low VOC paints, stains, and materials. VOCs are “volatile organic compounds” which are responsible for the low level toxic emissions that older types of paints emit for years after application. According to the EPA, indoor air can be more polluted than outdoor air, which can be a serious health concern. Low and zero-VOC paint and finishes cut down on this interior air pollution, making it better for both human and environmental health
Choose window coverings that will reflect glare and heat to keep cool
If you struggle to keep your home comfortably cool for much of the year, your AC probably uses a lot of electricity. Windows can let in a lot of the sun’s heat, along with light. If you have large or many windows, some rooms can even start to feel like greenhouses! Coverings that reflect glare and heat away from the house can help keep your home cooler, reducing reliance on AC and electric fans, thereby reducing both your electricity bill and environmental impact!
Choose window coverings that will insulate
Windows can also be a weak point when you’re trying to keep your house warm. Especially on older houses, windows can let a lot of heat escape out into the cold. Window coverings such as honeycomb shades, which create an insulating layer of air in hexagonal cells, can help prevent heat loss, saving you money on your heating bill and reducing your environmental impact. Honeycomb shades reduce energy loss through windows by up to 50%! Shutters and blinds can also have an insulating effect.