Vail Daily column: Decorate, the green way |

Vail Daily column: Decorate, the green way

Reclaimed wood offers a pre-aged look and is eco-friendly as well.
Special to the Daily |

After celebrating Earth Day all last week, we have felt inspired to share some sustainable design ideas. We’re all for replacing a refrigerator for one that uses less energy — but let’s not throw away a perfectly good refrigerator and claim it’s to save the Earth. And better yet, make sure to recycle the refrigerator. Try donating it or giving it away. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure after all. Back on topic, what are some green design choices? Choose Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood flooring, cabinets and furniture. The FSC is an international agency that tracks and certifies sustainably harvested wood. FSC sets standards for responsible forest management. Today, more than 380 million acres of forest are certified under FSC’s system, including more than 150 million acres in the U.S. and Canada. According to FSC, forests cover 30 percent of global land area with 70 percent of animals and plants calling forests home. By purchasing FSC-certified wood, you are supporting responsible forestry practices that help protect forest ecosystems — and getting the look you want.

Use Reclaimed Wood

Another option is to use reclaimed wood. It looks wonderful and is already aged. It can be used as flooring, beams, mantles and it has an authentic rustic look to it. Another thought is to check out the Habitat for Humanity Resale Store for used cabinets. Obviously, this route is not for everyone, but the store keeps 300 tons of materials each year from the Eagle County landfill every year thanks to people choosing to reuse. Conversely, it’s so tempting (and rewarding to smash) to trash those cabinets when you’re in the throes of a remodel. Try to take the gentle approach and donate them instead.

Invest in quality. Just like buying one classic article of clothing, that will stand the test of time, it’s worthwhile to buy quality wall and floor coverings. There’s beautiful vinyl wallpaper now that doesn’t off-gas and is free of harmful toxins and chemicals. If your budget allows, try paper-backed textiles or handwoven wall coverings. There are companies that provide living wages to its artisans, creating sustainable communities for the workers and their families.

Pick You Paint Wisely

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If you’re more into painting, then select paint with low VOCs, which is so much complicated than it sounds. VOC stands for volatile organic compounds and, in general, oil-based paints have more VOCs than its water-based sister. If you’re looking to get low VOC paint, then shoot for any with 50 grams or less per liter. If you see the “Green Seal”, you know the paint meets the highest environmental standards — but paint is paint and will still have some harsh chemicals.

Another area where you can make significant “green” choices is through your furniture. Purchase furniture that will stay with you for years. It costs more today but is well worth it in the long run. Eventually your daughter or grandson might want that piece for their Vail condo. If you don’t have the budget for the $12,000 dining room table that you covet, then check out resale shops — it’s just another way to reduce, reuse and recycle.

There are simple ways to increase your air quality in your house beyond staying away from VOCs — houseplants. They add a lushness to your house and help with air purity. Ivy doesn’t need a lot of sunshine or watering — perfect for those of us who a touch forgetful. Bamboo is lovely and adds vertical interest. Orchids are tough but so lovely, especially this time of year when it snows one day and the sun sparkles the next.

Mother Earth — she’s the only one we have, so let’s try to take care of her, inside and out.

Yvonne Jacobs is the president of Slifer Designs, has been with the company for 17 years and remembers making a small rental feel like a home. For more design inspiration (designspiration), check out

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