We’ve all heard about the importance of living a sustainable lifestyle, but it can feel difficult to translate that intention into actions we can easily take in our everyday lives. One way to start? Incorporating sustainability into the home. When you’re surrounded by sustainable, energy-saving products in your living space, you make a positive impact on the environment every single day — no matter how hectic your life is.
That’s why we teamed up with IKEA to build a real-life, 187-square-foot tiny home from the ground up. While constructing and designing the home, we wanted to prove that sustainable home solutions could be convenient, stylish, and affordable. “Sustainability can be seen all throughout the Tiny Home,” explains Jennifer Keesson, U.S. sustainability manager at IKEA, adding that the IKEA Tiny Home “exemplifies how it is possible to successfully live sustainably, with great design, no matter the size of our home or our wallet. We’re able to show how making small changes to areas of the home can have a large impact on the planet.”
But you don’t need to move into a tiny home tomorrow to start incorporating sustainability into your living space. Read on for some truly simple swaps, tips, and tricks that’ll help turn your living space into a sustainable oasis — with advice straight from the same experts who helped us create the IKEA Tiny Home.
It’s Okay to Start Small
First things first: You don’t need to completely remodel your home or buy new furniture to incorporate more sustainability into your living space. In fact, it’s actually more sustainable to use what you have already.
“Being more sustainable is truly about doing more with less, creating less waste,” Keesson explains. “You don’t need to buy things to live more sustainably — take a look at what you already own and see how it can support you in different ways. Your side table could be a new nightstand, or coffee table. Then when you do need a new item, add pieces to your home which are sourced responsibly and will last longer.”
IKEA U.S. senior interior design leader Abbey Stark — who customized the IKEA Tiny Home — agrees that you don’t need to make any high-level changes to your home in order to live a more environmentally-conscious lifestyle. One of her favorite simple ways to incorporate more sustainability into the homes she designs? Plants! “They not only purify the air, but add a living and beautiful thing in your space,” she explains. (For even more utility, try growing herbs that you can use in your kitchen later, like basil or mint.) Stark also recommends creating a recycling and compost station in your home to reduce waste, or hanging your linens and clothes to dry naturally outdoors, instead of using a dryer.
Use LED Lighting
One simple step you can take to make your home more sustainable is to revamp your light fixtures with energy-saving bulbs. “You don’t need to renovate your entire kitchen or bathroom to make your home more sustainable,” Keesson says. “Take baby steps. Start with switching a light bulb out for an LED option.”
IKEA exclusively offers LED bulbs in their range of light fixtures, so start there when you’re ready to replace your lamps and overhead lights. Stark adds that another sustainable option is to use the sun’s natural light (instead of electric lighting) during the day to save energy and reduce your utility costs: “Use day lighting as much as possible so you can reduce the amount of energy used on your light sources.”
Install Energy-Efficient Appliances
Every toilet flush, dishwasher cycle, and shower all have an effect on the environment that can add up — which is why it makes sense to choose more energy-efficient appliances. Doing so ensures that you’re doing your part to minimize your impact on the environment while doing your everyday kitchen and bathroom tasks.
IKEA offers a range of appliances that are meant to save energy without you giving it a second thought. For example, Keesson explains, IKEA shower heads are all equipped with a flow regulator that saves energy and water, all without compromising your water pressure. Their kitchen and bathroom faucets are also energy-efficient — they feature aerators that reduce water usage.
The IKEA Tiny Home includes these energy-efficient shower heads and faucets, as well as a portable induction cooktop that saves energy in the kitchen. Though updating your appliances may sound like a big commitment, IKEA’s affordable prices and easy-to-install products take the hassle out of the process.
Buy Products Made With Sustainable Materials
“If you’re looking to make small changes to refresh your space, you can start by purchasing products you can be confident are made from responsibly-sourced materials,” Keesson says. IKEA offers a wide selection of products made from renewable or recycled materials — especially wood and cotton. The wood used in IKEA’s products is responsibly sourced, and their cotton is either recycled or grown with less water, chemical fertilizer, and pesticide.
Need inspiration for furniture and decor pieces made with responsibly-sourced materials? The IKEA Tiny Home incorporates sustainable materials throughout, from the KUNGSBACKA kitchen fronts made from recycled PET bottles and recycled wood to the cotton cushion covers. “The materials used throughout the Tiny Home not only create a well-designed space but are great examples of our efforts to responsibly source our materials.” Keesson explains. “Choosing materials for us is about making responsible decisions. When we’re not able to use renewable resources, we aim for recycled or recyclable ones.”
So don’t fret about spending a lot of money or redesigning your entire home to become more environmentally conscious. Creating a sustainable living space is an affordable, achievable goal, attained by making small upgrades and keeping an eye out for products made with sustainable materials. Even if you’re not ready to commit to tiny home living (though we think ours is pretty stylish), you can find affordable and easy-to-use solutions for your home from IKEA.
Plus, when you purchase products from IKEA you can trust that their key values are to provide sustainability and affordability to as many people as possible. “To create a better everyday life for the many people — that’s the vision that has always guided us. It gives us a strong sense of purpose and the opportunity to do great things,” Keesson says. “IKEA wants to have a positive impact on people and the planet. For us, it’s about balancing positive social impact and economic growth with environmental protection and renewal.”
The bottom line? Sustainability is about working together now to ensure a better future for those who come after us — even through our small, seemingly inconsequential daily decisions and actions. “We need to work together to ensure we not are not compromising the needs of future generations,” Keesson says. “If everyone makes small changes today, together we can have a large impact on tomorrow.” If you’re ready to explore more, you can find additional sustainability resources on the IKEA Tiny Home project hub.