How Interior Designers Can Help Reduce Their Carbon Footprint


From the materials sourced to create foundations to the transport of materials, everything we do to create the urban world around us has an impact on our planet. As an interior designer, you might be struggling to combine your role with sustainability, but it can be done! We've put together some top tips to help you reduce your carbon footprint without compromising your designs.

Know How to Measure Your Carbon Footprint

How Interior Designers Can Help Reduce Their Carbon Footprint

Before you start reducing your carbon footprint, it's wise you learn how to measure it. Being able to monitor your own company's footprint, as well as that of your renovations and designs, is crucial to ensuring it's decreasing. To measure your carbon footprint, you need a thorough audit of every aspect of your interior renovation.

For example, if you've created a concrete wall, not only do you need to work out the footprint of the concrete used, but also the emissions created by transporting it to you. It's a time-consuming process, so many designers are bringing in the help of third-party carbon emission auditors to measure their footprints for them. 

Experiment With Eco-Friendly Materials

The materials you use in your interiors can have a dramatic effect on your total carbon footprint. Softwood timber, for example, emits an average of 100kg of embodied carbon per m³, compared to steel, which emits 12090kg per m³ - a huge difference! When creating your interiors, focus on incorporating sustainable materials with lower carbon footprints, including:

Organic cotton

Organic hemp




Reclaimed wood

Get Big on Recycling Waste

How Interior Designers Can Help Reduce Their Carbon Footprint

Recycling helps reduce your carbon footprint by helping decrease the number of virgin materials needed to make materials. If a single business with 1000 designers recycles its paper for just one year, the number of greenhouse gases they emit can be reduced by around 80 metric tonnes!

But, it's not always easy to quickly recycle your materials as an interior designer and there are often many myths surrounding recycling. That's why it's smart to team up with a trusted waste collection company to recycle as much waste as you can, both in your office and on renovation sites. 

Use Old Rather Than New

Recycling isn't the only way you can reduce the virgin resources you're using in your interiors. By sourcing old materials, furnishings, and decor rather than new, you'll wipe off a huge chunk of that design's carbon footprint. Start by looking into vintage and second-hand products and visiting trade fairs and antique shops to find some hidden gems. Online marketplaces are another great place to source unique, pre-loved items.

Whenever you can't find a piece second-hand, look into an option made from recycled materials. By buying recycled plastic instead of new, for example, you could reduce the emissions of that product by between 30%-80%.

Source Samples in a Sustainable Way

How Interior Designers Can Help Reduce Their Carbon Footprint

Sample sourcing and management can be a lot more sustainable if you use an online sample hub like Swatchbox. Thousands of material samples are in one central location and can be shipped out incredibly fast. This means that you can source samples "on-demand" rather than having to keep a sample room fully stocked. You can combine shipping from multiple brands to reduce packaging and shipping waste.

You can also return the samples for free when you are done with them so they can be used again.

Upcycle Old Furnishings

Upcycling has a pretty bad reputation in the design industry, but that's beginning to change. Most designers think of badly painted chests of draws and odd decoupaged door knobs when they think of upcycling, but that's no longer the case. Professional artists have embraced the art of turning old, worn-out furniture into incredible interior centre pieces and completely transformed this eco-friendly design method.

As someone with a creative eye, it's well worth looking into upcycling yourself. Save on new resources and prevent old materials and furnishings from heading to the landfill, all whilst letting your creative juices flow!

Create Energy Efficient Homes

How Interior Designers Can Help Reduce Their Carbon Footprint

Whilst upcycling and heading to antique trade fairs is super fun, sometimes reducing your carbon footprint comes in more practical forms, such as energy efficiency. Every interior needs an electricity supply, and if you can make yours more sustainable then you'll quickly lower your CO2 emissions.

Design spaces that incorporate renewable energy, LED lighting, and clever heating and cooling systems that have less of an impact on our planet, like heat pumps. Smart devices, like smart thermostats and lighting systems, can also do a lot to cut down on electricity usage in the spaces you create.

Create designs that rely less on electricity, too. Incorporating a lot of natural light will decrease the need for lights during the day, whilst plenty of insulation will keep the heating off for longer. 

As an interior designer, you have a responsibility to create spaces that are increasingly sustainable. Our world's resources won't last forever if we keep using them at our current speed, and the emissions we're releasing into our atmosphere are scarily high. Hopefully, these tips will give you the inspiration you need to kickstart your eco journey.

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