Green a living room with an energy-efficient TV, a natural-fibre carpet made of wool and jute, and a locally built sofa.

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Green Your Living Room

How to reduce your footprint with an eco-friendly TV, carpet and couch.
By Jaclyn Law, photo by Michael Graydon, styling by Sasha Seymour

The living room is where you and your family watch Hollywood blockbusters, hang out with friends… or take turns snoozing on the couch.

It’s also a room where you can make eco-friendly updates. When buying new furnishings, reduce your environmental footprint with products that are highly energy-efficient or made from responsibly sourced materials.

Here’s how:

Choosing a TV

The most efficient Energy Star–certified 42-inch TV models consume 100 watts or less while turned on. Based on 10 cents per kilowatt hour, and five hours of viewing per day, that’s just $15 per year, compared to 250 watts and $46 per year for non-certified models.

  • Choose an Energy Star–certified model to ensure the television is energy efficient: some use as little electricity as a 60-watt light bulb.
  • Look for plasma TV panels made without mercury, lead or VOCs
  • Find out if the manufacturer is a member of Electronics Product Stewardship Canada, which develops electronics recycling programs to divert products from landfill, or if they’ll take back and reuse or recycle electronics parts.
  • Look for Energy Star–certified LED TVs to minimize energy needs: some models use 40 per cent less energy than other LCD models.
  • Does the TV have sensors? Some adjust brightness to ambient light and switch the TV to standby mode if you leave the room.

Shopping for carpets

For carpets—notorious for off-gassing volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which may harm your health—look for green features such as natural materials, recycled materials, VOC-free backings or a manufacturer recycling program.

  • If you’re buying synthetics, look for flooring companies that use fibres partly produced from corn sugar, a renewable resource, such as Mohawk Flooring’s SmartStrand. Manufacturing requires 30 per cent less energy than nylon and creates about 60 per cent less greenhouse gases.
  • The greenest wool carpets by Vancouver’s Nature’s Carpet use only renewable resources and have no chemical additives (the backing is rubber and jute). Products are LEED-compliant and approved by the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Green Label Plus program.
  • Recyclable carpet tiles from FLOR come in dozens of options and are made using sustainably sourced energy. Most styles meet or exceed the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Green Label Plus standards for low VOCs.

Picking a sofa

Meanwhile, more furniture makers are offering sofas made with sustainably sourced wood, recycled materials, natural fabrics or soy-based cushion foam.

  • YUP sofas contain high-performance fibreboard (recyclable up to seven times) rather than wood or metal. The seats are filled with recycled foam, and the sofa’s lighter weight needs less fuel to ship.
  • Shop locally. Sofas from Biltmore Domicile are made in Montreal with 100 per cent Canadian maple, and can be customized to your needs.
  • Look for furniture made with FSC-certified lumber, which indicates the wood comes from responsibly managed forests.
  • Avoid furniture that emits VOCS, toxic fumes that pollute your indoor air. Ask for cushions and padding made with a soy — or latex-based foam core (instead of fossil fuel-derived foam) and solvent-free adhesives, such as sofas made by G. Romano, a member of the nonprofit Sustainable Furnishings Council.

Get ideas for greening other rooms in your home such as the laundry room, bedroom, kitchen or bathroom. Or check out more great articles from issue 3 of EcoLiving.

Products assessed by Céline MacKay, green decor expert, founder and editor of Pure Green Magazine and a partner in Sustain, an eco-store in Huntsville, Ont.

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