It Can Be Easy Being Green


Interior design has quite the impact on our environment. Sometimes we're replacing old cabinets with something more updated, or maybe even gutting an entire house to start fresh. Where is the old material going? How are the new materials sources and how will they behave once installed? The truth is there are likely many environmentally healthy options for design that most designers don't know about. The old school of thought is that eco-friendly products are either too expensive or not on trend. Erica is here to set the record straight.

Erica is a eco-friendly designer from from sunny, Southern California. In the midst of her wedding planning (congrats Erica), she graced us with some advice from her experience in eco-friendly design. I'll let her fill you in on the rest.

Tell a little about yourself. What drives you and what is your favorite part about your business? I am a designer helping people to create personalized and eco-friendly spaces. I offer interior design and landscape design to commercial and residential clients, specializing in eco-friendly designs. I love educating people on materials and products that will fit their style and budget, that are also environmentally friendly. Being able to put my formal education and background in the environmental sciences and interior design skills together in an entrepreneurial way has been really fun and rewarding.

How did you get started in eco-friendly design? At first, I started with traditional design – I didn’t know if I could blend the two together. Then I realized I should embrace this knowledge base and share my intentions with potential clients. I started incorporating tips and tricks that could be easy wins for each customized project in all of my clients’ consultation documents. I put a little green leaf next to each resource or product I suggested that would be healthier and safer for them and the planet. Then, I ramped up and started truly representing this niche and specialization in my branding and messaging. I am undergoing a redesign of my portfolio, and highlighting the eco-friendly aspects of each project. I hope this shows people that for each space, we can all do a little bit without compromising on style or blowing the budget. Luckily, the marketplace for better safer products is increasing every day.

What do you think is the biggest misconception, if any about, designing with eco-friendly materials? Cost! I think some people have an “all-or-nothing” misconception about going green in their space and in their design. I would rather have a client incorporate one easy win (such as sustainably harvested hardwood flooring, or no-VOC paint) than nothing at all. Some people do their entire homes from construction to design with all green materials, like Alicia Silverstone and Ed Bagley Jr.. But we don’t all have the budget to buy the best and healthiest products all the time – the market doesn’t support that yet – so instead I want to make it easy for people to incorporate what they can afford, even if that’s just a little bit. The other half of the coin is that eco-friendly products are coming down in cost as demand rises. Lastly, even if you can’t afford to incorporate new eco-friendly products into your design or space, you can definitely make sure the old stuff is disposed of properly. Make sure your old carpet gets recycled. In the state I live in, California, check out www.calrecycle.org. Recycle your unused paint, too at www.paintcare.org. You can also recycle old mattresses at the mattress recycing center nearest you, and you should donate old furniture and building supplies to the habitat for humanity’s reStore shop nearest you.

How do you keep yourself educated on new eco-friendly materials? Well this happens naturally, as I do procurement research or sourcing for each product. For each design, I identify the opportunities to swap out harmful products for eco-friendly or non-toxic ones. Then I search the marketplace for a provider. I am almost ALWAYS happily surprised to find the eco-friendly version of the thing I want. There are some go-to databases out there, but I hope to curate an eco-friendly interior design vendor database sometime in the future to help others make better choices. Can you share some great eco-friendly sources/vendors for us?

-Endicott Home is a small business selling non-toxic pieces: https://www.condofurniture.com/

- www.stemgoods.com eco furniture or fire retardant-free furniture www.2modern.com

-www.bambeco.com & www.hookandloom.com – non-toxic rugs

- http://www.greenflooringsupply.com/

-www.etsy.com – many artisans make non-toxic or organic cotton fabric products like curtains, pillows, throw pillows, rugs and so on, and amazing upcycled and recycled material products, too!

www.curava.com &www.icestoneusa.com - recycled glass counter tops

www.greenbuildingsupply.com – they have great stuff for installation of designs like non-toxic flooring adhesive and sustainably certifed lumber, etc.

….I am also happy to say that you can look for eco-firndly products on a lot of major décor and furniture online retailers – you just have to do your homework on what to look for!

What would you like your fellow designers to understand about your business? I would want them to know there are alternatives for every element of the design process, and they DON’T need a LEED certification or degree to start learning and incorporating into their business.

How can people learn more about you? They can check out www.eleighdesigns.com and feel free to email me at erica@eleighdesigns.com

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