10 Ethical & Sustainable Home Decor Brands
I absolutely love home decor – thinking about it, planning it, re-planning it, executing it – if I had eight homes to design, I’d probably still want more. I’m dying to have an experimental canvas that I can go absolutely bonkers on with design and styling, without disrupting my own space of solitude. One can dream, can’t they?
I’ve been watching the British reality TV show Interior Design Masters lately, which isn’t exactly award-winning TV, but it’s been good for a light break, and has started the cogs in my brain. I’ve chatted a lot about home decor and my style, but I’ve never put together a little guide on how to be mindful when decorating your home.
So this post is dedicated to sustainable and ethical solutions I’ve found while decorating my first home for the past 2 years! Enjoy 🙂
The first step
Take stock of what you need – and go nice and slow. When I first moved into my house, I was a little over-excited and purchased quite a few things at once – only to find that I didn’t quite like how they went together. It happens to the best of us, so it’s good to stay slow and steady – welcoming in your most truly treasured piece (and biggest investment) first, so you’re sure that you can get a feel for how it sits in the space and decorate around it.
Start with who you know
Your most sustainable option for interior decor is what already exists! Repurposing or using what you / your family and friends own is a great start. I recently traded an old Pax wardrobe to my friends who needed one, and they gifted me a battery-operated lawn mower in return. These kinds of bargain trades can lead to a more holistic circular economy that means nothing is wasted.
My three most treasured pieces from family are the corner cabinet in my living room, from my grandma, and the two antique radios from my Nonna and Nonno – one of which was in their barbershop. Nothing can beat that kind of patina and character.
I also love painting original pieces for my place, or integrating pieces (blankets, paintings, sculptures) from dabbling artists and makers in my life. It can make your space one-of-a-kind in a way that tells a personal story of the fabric of who you know.
Look to the past
Next, I frequent antique malls and vintage stores. Once I have a list (and usually a sketch) of what I want my room to look like, I spend some leisurely time walking about vendors with an open mind to whatever unique pieces catch my eye. It’s important to know the space you have well, so that if you see something unexpected, it’s easy to make a clear judgment call on whether it’ll fit or belong in your space.
Vintage is the most sustainable option next to trading, and these kinds of pieces can add a beautiful texture to your design. Texture makes the difference between a room that feels flat, and a room that feels intentional and welcoming.
I tend to purchase more affordable vintage items for decor: old books, mirrors, artwork and side tables. A $60 set of nesting tables was my first vintage purchase for the home, and it certainly was cheaper than paying hundreds of dollars for ones from a trendy online brand.
I also chose a vintage Mid-Century desk chair for $80, which isn’t far in price from a new one, but reduces my carbon footprint and has the most brilliant shade of yellow.
Lastly, one of my favourite decor items are vintage books. The artwork is gorgeous, and they’re not only full of texture and character, they’re also great entertainment if you need a fun read in a pinch.
Use natural materials
It seems a little “flower child,” but I often go out and dry foliage to use as decor, especially in places that need a little life and warmth without the maintenance of a living houseplant. At the end of my best friend’s wedding, they were about to toss an entire garland of eucalyptus. you can bet I asked for a few snippings! These now hang amongst frames above my couch, and on a wooden vase on my office shelf.
I also have a pine trunk that I finished myself, found on the side of the road after a couple had chopped down a tree. I knocked on their door and asked if I could snag a few chunks, and they gladly obliged! It’s now shifting from a book table to a plant stand depending on my office arrangement 🙂
If you like change, find easy seasonal adjustments
if you’re like my sister, having one room the same way for more than six months is almost unheard of. Simple things like gathering seasonal foliage from the backyard or in the forest can really change up the look of your room, without eating into our budget or increasing your carbon footprint. In the spring, I cut tulips from my yard. In the summer, peonies and wild daisies. In the fall, gourds and pumpkins. In the winter, holly sprigs from a bush in my front yard, or wild coniferous branches from the woods.
Another way to spruce up your space seasonally is to invest in changeable throws or pillowcases that can add a new kind of flavour as the light changes and as your mood changes. These can easily be folded away or tossed in a basket in the off-season, but completely refresh your room when you need it.
Get to know modern brands
I’m still working on developing a deeper understanding of sustainable and ethical decor brands out there. I admittedly am on a tight decor budget, so most of my furniture that couldn’t be found vintage was bought from IKEA (as you would expect!)
IKEA’s pieces are 60% renewable materials, 10% recycled post-consumer, and they aim to be 100% recycled or renewable by 2030. 2030 is a bit late when we think about the rapidity that climate change is taking place, but I also consider the extent of transportation an item will take before it gets to me. If it has to fly from Europe to my door, it’s arguably making as big of an impact on the environment as an IKEA flat-pack that I pick up 10 minutes from my house.
All I’ll say is: it’s a messy business and none of us will get it perfectly right!
But for those of you who do want to know some places to find more conscious home decor options, see my shortlist below! I’ll try and keep building it up as I discover more.
10 Sustainable & Ethical Home Decor Brands
I’ve been a fan of the Citizenry forever– they’re over my budget a lot of the time, but that doesn’t stop me ogling their pieces time and again! All responsibly sourced and artisan made, their pieces are impeccably gorgeous and have all the Georgia O’Keefe desert vibes you could ever desire. Their line is rich with texture and colour and shape. I could browse their site all day!
Not all their pieces are guaranteed, but Crate & Barrel has an FSC-certified line of furniture if you’re on the hunt for bigger ticket furniture items that you haven’t been able to find vintage. A great range of indoor, outdoor, beds, shelves and chairs, this line presents a well-rounded start to finding the perfect sleek item that you can feel good about.
West Elm has really been exploring sustainability and conscious manufacturing in the past few years, and I’m extremely happy with both their aesthetic and commitment to better made pieces.
The bonus about West Elm? When I received an order I’d placed for my bathroom light fixture, I noticed it was shipped in a recycled box that had previously been used for West Elm catalogues – meaning they’re attentive to re-using as much material inside their supply chain as possible. A+ West Elm!
If you’re looking for linens, towels or bed sheets, look no further! I have a set of their organic cotton bed sheets and I haven’t looked back since. In fact, the first set of sheets were gifted to me, but I loved them so much that I just purchased a second pair in a beautiful sand colour. They’re impossibly soft and consciously made. Sol Organics is well priced for the quality compared to competitors, and ACTUALLY offers variety in twin-sized beds, unlike other brands that only carry queen and above.
We Are Pampa carries designs that are rich in texture, colour and shape, specializing in hand-woven rugs and cushions from Argentina, but also offer furniture and breathtaking minimalist prints. Their photography and products embody a sense of place that is intrinsically tied to the makers in a respectful and enduring way. If ever there was a site worth a browse or an Instagram worth a follow, this would be it.
Custom furniture awaits at Joybird. Made-to-order and still priced within a realm that’s common among other mid-end furniture retailers, Joybird pieces offer something that’s uniquely you. Owning their own factory means that they have 360 visibility into the process, and can customize your furniture the way you like it – no compromises. I wish I knew about them when I was first decorating my own house!
Viva Terra is an artisan-based company born out of California. They have a vibrant and varied selection of home decor items – enough to keep you occupied for a while! They have a strict commitment to natural fibres and materials, ensuring the items you bring into your home are healthy and beautiful.
A modern textile brand, Coyuchi commits to organic, consciously processed, responsibly made products. Their collections have a minimal earthy feel. With a twin sheet set priced at $148 USD, they’re a little more pricey, but the certifications backing them are thorough and makes me confident in their production and quality.
From bedding and bath to kitchen and general decor, Made Trade has a huge selection of ethical options that are artisan-made and sourced sustainably. Their shipping is 100% carbon-neutral, so you don’t have to worry about the environmental cost of having your order shipped to you. I love how vibrant and diverse Made Trade’s assortment is. If you’re not into the typical minimalist neutral vibe, this is a definite option for you!
Everyone keeps asking about my kitchen rug – yes, it’s machine washable and able to be thrown in the dryer! No worries about spills. But the even bigger bonuses about Ruggable are more faceted than I initially thought: they’re made in the USA, use only non-toxic materials, have a conscious supply chain, use recycle polyester for their non-slip liners, and each purchase contributes to Ruggable’s chosen charities.
Ok, fine – I’ll give you a bonus one! Out of Kelowna, British Columbia, this online lifestyle shop works with 19 artisan groups in 11 countries, Including Canada, Haiti, Mali, Nepal, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, India, Guatemala, Vietnam, and South East Asia. Their home and kitchen items are beautiful and accessibly priced, especially for Canadians. From wooden spoons and dishes, to Mudcloth pillows and baskets – and even a few cute things for the little ones.
That’s it for now! My 11 go-to ethical & sustainable home decor and furniture brands. Of course, my first option is always finding pieces from my family, and second: shopping vintage. But when those two fail, these 11 options are sure to find you a fit.