We all want to do our part for a healthier earth. Recycling, considering energy efficiency and cutting back on wasteful practices comes naturally to Calgarians. Have you ever considered decorating greener? For most of us building a LEED certified, solar powered home filled with eco specific products will never be in the budget. Luckily there are decorating options that will enable you as a homeowner to make wise environmental and ethical choices. Those quick thrill decorating shows and design magazines are fun to look at but for most of us, decorating a home is a much longer process. Read further for tips on planning and decorating your home with thought to budget, quality and longevity.

Take the time to identify your personal style before making any purchases. Keep a scrapbook of inspiration images or start a Pinterest account and keep a decorating inspiration board. You will find over time that you are drawn to particular styles again and again.

Think versatility. If your budget won’t allow for the side chairs you want now, choose something that will be easily repurposed later in the kids rooms or family room. Think the same way with bed frames, coffee tables and lamps. If you can’t afford the coffee table you want right now but need something quick, consider buying two smaller tables that can be repurposed as side tables when the savings account is ready. You get the idea.

Try to resist the urge to buy a house full of “big box” disposable furniture simply to fill up your home now. If the price is too good to be true, you can expect that the items you buy will be of low quality and will not last. Consider questions like “Did all of the people connected to the manufacturing of these goods make a living wage?” and “At this price is it possible that the factories involved have a poor environmental rating?”

Any furniture item that ends up in a landfill within a few years is a problem that won’t disappear for a long time. A good example of this is the coveted leather sofa. When the sticker price is really low, you can be reasonably sure that the item is actually made of “bonded” leather. Bonding involves taking all of the little bits of leather that were left over at the factory and chemically flattening them into a unified surface. The main problem with this process is the “leather” surface tears easily and once torn, is not repairable. Lots of chemicals and straight to the landfill.

Think vintage first. It’s reuse and repair at its best. Anytime you need something interim, consider shopping vintage sites, second hand stores and accepting hand me downs. Often some cleaning and a bit of paint can transform a hand me down into an attractive piece of pride.

Take inspiration from earlier decades when families saved up to make those all-important purchases. This is my number one tip. I encourage you to start a savings account specifically for the higher ticket items you will love for a lifetime. You might have to sit on that hand me down sofa a few years longer but by saving up you really can get the high quality sofa that you have always wanted. Don’t worry if you don’t know where you will be in a few years or if your style ideas will change. When you save up for something you know you want, you will have plenty of time to make the best decision and you will bring that sofa with you no matter where you go. It just takes a little patience.