With schools transitioning to online learning, and many people working remotely, people’s homes are turning into not only a house, but an office, a classroom, and a safe place (hopefully). It’s essential to curb the COVID-19 curve, and the best way to do that is to stay home as much as possible (and wear a mask in public, wash your hands, etc). Seeing as this autumn is going to look a little different than it has in most years, it’s more important than ever to enjoy the space you’re living in, and for your home to be your haven to social distance in. Decorating and making your home or living space into your little paradise can be done in an eco-friendly, conscious, and often affordable way. There are so many ways to accomplish this, so here are a few to start you off.
1. Make or buy vegan candles
Candles are not only a fantastic way to use less electricity, but they also smell amazing and are instant mood boosters. Look for candles that are made from soy or flower-based wax, have hemp wicks, and are made with things like recycled glass for the container or tin, or have vegetable-based ink for the labels. Aim to support companies that also carbon offset their shipping and use zero-waste packaging. Check out shops like EcoCollective for beautiful “Affirmation Candles” with gems, or Earth Hero for candles in porcelain cups with wildflower seed packets inside. If you’re more of an incense person, check out Sea Witch Botanicals’ options for eco-friendly sticks in uplifting scents, tailored for each element.
It’s also really fun to make soy candles! Check out Etsy for fair-trade soy wax flakes and hemp wicks (the longest-burning wicks and the most sustainable), and snag some fair-trade pure essential oils in your favorite scents. Lavender, orange, and bergamot are proven mood boosters, but feel free to pick your favorite scents!
2. Hang up art
Painting is a great way to express yourself, and is an uplifting hobby, so if you have an artistic knack for things, consider making yourself some gallery-worthy art for your walls! Use colors that uplift you, or paint scenes in nature that will do the same. Opt for used paints and brushes (you never know what you’ll find on Facebook Marketplace), bamboo easels, hemp paper, and linen canvases for a more eco-friendly approach to painting. Put it in a thrifted frame, and you’re golden!
If you don’t feel like painting, you can support small artists. Look for artists that donate to important causes or who practice environmentalism, and grab pieces that have colors that boost your mood. Carbon offset the shipping, and you’re all set with a beautiful new piece for your walls!
3. Thrift colorful furniture and decor
Buy from environmentally conscious companies, or hit up local thrift shops (or online ones—again, Facebook Marketplace has everything). Look for couches in bright colors, or mismatched chairs and a vintage table to go with them (think Friends kitchen table). Look for beautifully painted plant pots, colorful armchairs, woven rugs, macramé, scarlet pitchers, globes, and funky lamps. Let your living space be another way to express yourself, so rather than finding what you think should be in your home, find what you want in your home. Colors and self-expression are proven mood boosters, so don’t be shy about embracing those things.
You can also find really cool used furniture from Buy Nothing clubs. If you’re in a city, chances are that you have one, so seek it out and let your neighbors know what type of things you’d like them to offer you if before they throw something out. For example, if your neighbor is sick of her coral-colored bookshelf, and you’ve already told the club that you’re looking for bookshelves, she’ll check to see if you want it before she drops it off at the curb or at a local Goodwill.
4. Adopt local houseplants
Plants are miracle workers in the area of mood boosters! Look for new plant babies at local nurseries, and consider putting them in thrifted pots. Filling your home with plants is a great way to feel connected to nature as well as generally uplifted. Ones that don’t need a ton of water are ideal for both the planet and your time.
5. Dress up your shower
Even your shower can be a happy space. Grab a linen or hemp or other eco-friendly shower curtain in a color that you like. Every few days sprinkle some eucalyptus oil on the bottom of it if you’re worried about it getting moldy, or some other anti-fungal oil. It’s also really uplifting to have a diffuser in the bathroom filled with essential oils like lemon or peppermint, but if you don’t have one or want something more simple, you can simply dab the edge of the shower in the oil, and when the shower is hot, it will make the steam smell heavenly. You can also hang pothos or other hanging plants in or near the shower to lighten up the room. Consider hanging eucalyptus on the shower head to reap the benefits of this sinus-clearing super plant, and purchasing towels that are made of flax, linen, or are hand-me-downs. Bonus points if they’re colorful or a soothing neutral color.
6. Collect bits of nature and use them as decoration
When you’re at the seaside, collect shells, sea glass, rocks, and dried bits of coral, and bring them home! Sea glass and shells are stunning in glass jars, and the other lovelies make beautiful accents to coffee tables, windowsills, and nightstands! Pinecones, river stones, agates, and dried flowers are also prime for perking up your living space and bringing nature (which is a natural stress reliever) inside.
There are so many other eco-conscious ways to make your home your haven, like purchasing linen sheets for your bed (and maybe dyeing them with turmeric or blueberries for a gorgeous, happy hue), frequenting yard sales, painting your walls your favorite color with non-toxic paint, and so on. That said, the bottom line is this: embrace yourself and your preferences for colors and scents, and buy used when possible, make it when possible, and if neither of those are possible, buy from eco-friendly and socially conscious companies (as locally as possible).
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Photo: Emily Degn