THE BLOG
09/29/2011 12:09 pm ET | Updated Oct 11, 2012

Eco-Friendly Style: Once an Oxymoron, Now a Design Trend

We used to say "ecological." That turned into "environmental." Today, it's "sustainable." Whatever the word, the green movement has hit the home décor world in a big way, and today consumers don't have to sacrifice style for sustainability.

It used to be that most home product designers emphasized style, affordability and function. Today, forward-thinking companies are leading with their green credentials. This concept of green building, eco-chic, eco-style -- whatever we want to call it -- is a trend that's here to stay. And getting on the bandwagon is easier than you might think.

One well recognized part of this trend that's really catching on in homes and apartments everywhere is the use of recycled materials in our living space. As more metals, wood, plastics, stone, etc., are recycled, products that use these recycled materials are becoming more affordable, something shoppers are happy to get behind. This drives more demand for recycling, thereby improving sustainability well beyond our furniture... the proverbial win-win.

It's now easier than ever for consumers to find home design and décor products made with recycled materials -- from furniture to insulation to a planter that grows vegetables up the side of a family room wall.

But let's be real, consumers won't buy something that's "better" for the environment if it doesn't do what it's supposed to do. Wasting money and throwing out inferior products is not sustainable. We'll use this blog to highlight easy-to-find home design and décor products made from recycled materials that fit this eco-chic trend -- and that do what they say they will.

Let's start with something many homeowners often take for granted: lumber for decks. Who doesn't love a great outdoor space? Wood remains the primary decking of choice due to ready availability, cost, and, of course, tradition. But it's always had some upkeep issues such as splinters, rotting, bugs, re-staining and warping. Lately, composite materials have been taking the decking world by storm, as evidenced by the explosion of advertisements in home design magazines.

Some of these newer decking options are made with a little, or even a lot, of recycled materials. Trex TranscendTM decking, for example, is made almost entirely from reclaimed wood and recycled plastic bags. (So please remember to bring your plastic grocery bags back to the store for recycling). Lifetime Lumber® sells decking made with polyurethane plastic and fly ash (the powdery stuff removed from coal power plants). ForeverDeck® uses recycled milk jugs and detergent and shampoo bottles. Timbertech® uses wood flour and post-consumer recycled plastics.

These composite lumber products keep garbage out of landfills, are as easy to use as typical lumber and look just as great. Some of these products are now sold at home improvement stores such as Lowe's and Home Depot, pretty much nationwide -- a readily available, sustainable option that comes in a range of colors and designs to satisfy even the most demanding designer.

And they're not only for decks: many can be used for fences, docks, furniture, pergolas and other home projects traditionally made with wood (check with the manufacturer).

These new composites aren't the only recycled lumber products out there -- there also are many sources for reclaimed wood and other materials that can be repurposed, live a new life and look great in your home. So whether it's a new deck or a new kitchen table, you don't have to choose between the environment and a great look now that many materials are recycled into unique new products and accessories to fit your style.

Stay tuned for more great home style ideas that are easy on the eyes and on our environment.

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