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Trends come and go, but decorating your home around your own tastes will enrich your life every time you walk through the door. That’s one reason why it’s important to be discerning when you choose new decor for your living space.
But picking out great knick-knacks and other finishing touches for your home goes beyond aesthetics.
Not only should you check if the pieces you bring into your space were ethically and responsibly made, but you should also be sure they’re safe to have in your home. Some decor can be made of toxic materials and have finishes that may affect your allergies and overall health.
Our guide features non-toxic, sustainable, and ethically-made pillow covers, cushions, and throws; tableware such as trays, carafes, coasters, vases, and runners; functional pieces such as baskets, bookends, candles, diffusers, clocks, lamps, planters, and incense holders; and suspended pieces such as curtains, wall hangings, even ornaments.
Here’s what to look for when shopping for sustainable, ethical, and healthy home decor:
Natural Materials: The materials that make up your decor affect not just the product’s lifespan, but also your health. Avoid toxic dyes and chemicals that can pollute your indoor air quality. Plant-based decor and textiles made of natural fibers (such as cotton or wool) are safer and better for the environment than plastics and synthetics. They also don’t crack and peel like plastics, and are repairable and re-finishable. Pieces crafted with natural materials (like sweetgrass and jute) that need no dyes or finishes are more likely to be created without chemicals in the mix.
Transparency: Is the brand open about where it sources materials and how its craftspeople are treated? The more you know about a brand’s supply chain, the more confident you can be that your new piece was ethically and sustainably made. Look for brands that are Fair Trade-certified and who frequently visit their artisans or factories to ensure proper conditions and wages. Plus, when you know how your decor was made, you’ll have a deeper connection with it!
Lifespan: You can’t expect your tastes to stay the same forever, but you can find home decor that will be classic across decades. Look for items that compliment your style, but can be adapted as you move on. Choose quality pieces that are durable and long-lasting, so if you really can’t make it work anymore, you can donate or resell them. If you move often (or live in an earthquake-prone area) consider decor made of sturdy materials that won’t easily break.
Functionality: The beautiful things that make up one’s home are even more delightful when they simplify one’s life. Pieces that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing can help you reduce your clutter and consumption. Buying decor that serves a purpose is great for making the most of a small space (and stretching your budget!)
Whether you’re looking for comfy couch throws or stunning wall hangings, we’ve got you covered.
Etsy is the home for independent artists and designers of all types. You can find one-of-a-kind handmade items from small businesses around the world. The website is a treasure trove for those with niche styles. It’s important to note that not everything on the website is automatically ethical and sustainable, so be sure to look out for the criteria we listed above.
Medley creates stunning home goods that are designed to last a lifetime. It uses hypoallergenic OEKO-TEX Standard wool and natural fibers (such as organic cotton and jute) in its throw pillow linings for comfortable and breathable relaxation. It offers dozens of customizable options in just about any color you can think of. Medley’s products are made-to-order, customizable, and handmade in the U.S. Its throw pillows are hand block printed, pet friendly, and easy to remove and clean.
Parachute is a climate-neutral basics brand dedicated to making sustainable and affordable home goods. It sells organic cotton pillow covers and throws with a crisp, modern look that easily fits into any color scheme. The brand partners with Fair Trade certified manufacturers that don’t use any harmful chemicals or dyes. Its supply chain is certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard and meets the criteria of several labor rights groups, including the International Labor Organization.
Goodee is a collective of “socially-conscious design enthusiasts” who believe in community, transparency, and sustainability. Every product it hosts is carefully selected and vetted to ensure it’s ethically made and long-lasting. Its brand partners, who craft everything from comfy floor cushions to vibrant wall art, are required to be transparent about their labor standards and eco-footprint. Goodee is a certified B Corp and is climate neutral.
This online shop promotes slow, thoughtful living. Its mission is to share, support, and represent independent designers, especially those from marginalized groups. Kaufman participates in the 15% pledge, which dedicates 15% of (virtual) shelf space to Black-owned brands. When you buy from one of its artisan partners, you receive a product that lasts a lifetime. The shop offers classic cooking tools, candles, throws, pillows, prints, and so much more.
MINNA designs its decor with a contemporary and versatile aesthetic in mind, so you can mix, match, and layer them for every season. There are no toxic dyes or synthetics in these cool-toned items. It only uses natural materials such as Alpaca, organic cotton, Jute, and merino wool. This queer-led brand collaborates with master weaver and artisan collectives in Mexico, Guatemala, and Uruguay to ensure ethical and traditional crafting practices, as well as safe working environments and fair pay.
This California-born brand offers soft and organic cotton pillow covers, throws, and kitchen towels. The subtle but chic muted patterns are meant to easily mesh with your style. Coyuchi partners with Fibershed to help support local material sourcing in the textile industry. This brand has a traceable supply chain and a “2nd Home Take Back” program that repairs or recycles returned products. Its certifications include the Global Organic Textile Standard and the Global Organic Latex Standard, and it partners with regenerative agriculture programs.
If you’re in the market for gorgeous handmade baskets, trivets, or trays, you can’t go wrong with KAZI. Naturally dyed in brilliant patterns and colors, all of the materials (including natural sisal and sweet grass) are sourced locally in Africa, where its artisans turn them into unique and useful decor. The brand reinvests its profits to train local farmers and teach craftspeople new techniques to expand their skill set. KAZI, a member of the Fair Trade Federation, also sells handmade hampers, wall decorations, cake stands, and much, much more.
West Elm is a fair trade certified brand that has dozens of non-toxic pieces to personalize your space. It offers functional decor such as recycled glass vases, wood and metal trays, glass shadow boxes, tempered glass picture frames, and adorable hand-woven baskets. The Brooklyn-based brand created 95% of its products in-house and collaborates with local artists and artisans around the world.