How to Make Your Bedroom an Eco Haven

Health + Wellness
A bedroom with plants and eco-friendly linen
Adding plants and using sustainable bed sheets can help transform a bedroom into an oasis. zayatssv / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Our bedrooms should be a respite from our busy lives. After a long, stressful day of work or even a high-energy day spent hiking and playing out in the sunshine, it’s nice to have somewhere to decompress, unwind, and prepare for sleep. But it can be hard to rest your head at night if your room is filled with VOC-emitting materials or fossil fuel-derived fabrics.

Fortunately, there are many ways to make your room more eco-friendly, creating a truly restful and relaxing space for yourself. If you’re ready to create a more sustainable bedroom, here are some tips to turning your bedroom into an eco haven.

Swap for Sustainable Linens

Sustainable bed sheets, comforters, pillow cases and throw blankets are important, because you don’t want to wrap yourself in polyester and other synthetic materials. Not to mention that the weekly washing of bed sheets will release microplastics into the water and your home. Instead, adorn your bed in soft, soothing organic fabrics like cotton, hemp, flax or bamboo.

Choose a Better Mattress

We spend about one-third of our lives sleeping, which is a lot of time exposed to potentially toxic materials found in many conventional mattresses today. According to one study, researchers found that four different mattresses led to respiratory irritation in mice. It can be a little scary to think of sleeping on a toxic mattress each night, but there are more and more green mattress options on the market to consider for your bedroom.

When buying a new mattress, search for organic cotton or wool or natural latex and consider options that are OEKO-TEX- or GOLS-certified.

Opt for Sustainably Sourced Furnishings

From bed frames to wardrobes and dressers to nightstands, there’s a lot of furniture that can go into a bedroom. You may even be lucky enough to set up a cozy reading nook with a plush chair and bookcase or a desk to serve as a work-from-home space.

Start finding furnishings for your bedroom by looking for secondhand options, and be sure to donate or sell any furniture you plan to switch out. You might find nightstands for free on a curb near your home that you can upcycle with custom drawer knobs or a fresh coat of paint.

You might not find secondhand options that suit your taste, or perhaps you’re looking for a very specific style of furniture. In that case, make sure to purchase items from ethical and environmentally minded retailers. For wood pieces, look for sustainably sourced timber. Consider handcrafted pieces by artisans making fair wages. You may even find furniture made from recycled materials.

Use Zero-VOC Paints

If you’re looking to refresh your bedroom’s look with a paint job, make sure you’re choosing paints without VOCs. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are gases emitted from various materials, including many paints, that can have negative short- and long-term health impacts.

Before choosing a paint color for your room, check for options that are low- or zero-VOC to minimize harmful gases from being emitted into your sleeping sanctuary.

Add a Showstopping, Handmade Rug

Whether you have hardwood or vinyl floors or carpet, rugs can majorly increase the coziness in a bedroom. But many rugs from conventional retailers are made with synthetic materials and are not sustainably produced.

Instead, save up your money and invest in an ethically produced and/or handmade rug made of durable materials. You’ll be supporting artisans that are paid fair wages, and you’ll end up with a one-of-a-kind rug that makes your space unique. Look for options made with cotton, wool, jute, recycled materials, or other natural fibers and water-based or natural dyes.

Plug Devices Into a Solar Charger

Yes, we all know our devices are better off left in the living room or kitchen come bedtime, but the reality is many people still keep their phones in the bedroom. If that’s true for you, too, then at least make sure your chargers are harnessing solar power to recharge your cell. Hang a solar-powered charger in a sunny bedroom window during the day, then use it to power your phone at night.

Fill the Room With Plants

Want to be one with nature? Plants are the secret. You don’t have to have a green thumb, either. There are plenty of houseplants that thrive with minimal care and can provide air filtering benefits to your bedroom. According to some studies, indoor plants may even reduce stress and discomfort and feel happier, more carefree, and more affectionate.

For low-maintenance bedroom plants that will introduce a touch of nature into your space, consider snake plants, English ivy, ferns, spider plants, or even lavender for a natural fragrance boost.

Light Soy or Beeswax Candles

There’s nothing quite as relaxing as lighting a candle, pouring a cup of tea, and settling into bed with a good book. But some candles are made with wax or fragrances that contribute to poor indoor air quality.

Those bargain candles from your favorite big box store retailers may smell amazing and look chic, but many are made with paraffin wax or paraffin wax blends. Paraffin wax releases carcinogenic soot as the candle burns, according to Green America. While some synthetic fragrances may be harmless, there’s not much regulation to determine which ones are safe. Some synthetic oils added to candles for pleasant scents have been linked to health concerns.

Instead, choose candles made with 100% soy wax or beeswax, and try to find options with cotton, hemp or wood wicks. Unscented candles are best, but if you are looking to set a peaceful or romantic mood, look for candles made with essential oils.

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