When people think of being “green” around the house, they often think of bathrooms (saving water) and kitchens (minimising food wastage). Yet having an eco-friendly bedroom can be just as important and contribute just as much from an environmental standpoint. For tips on going green in the bedroom, and also some background on the sustainable aspects of their products, we spoke with representatives from two prominent Hong Kong stores: Thijs Veyfeyken, General Manager of Okooko by European Bedding, and Kate Babington, Managing Director of TREE. Plus, Keren Goldman of Keren’s Garden gives us some tips on indoor plants for the bedroom.
Why is a “green” bedroom important?
Thijs: We live in a stressful and polluted environment. When we go to rest at night, we want to have a release from all of these stressors; and having a “green” bedroom helps! Okooko’s Heveya mattresses and pillows are made of 100 percent organic latex, with no synthetic foam, metal springs or glue. The latex core is also naturally mould-and dust-mite-resistant. By removing these pollutants and allergens, our bodies get to rest better in a healthier environment; we then get the quality sleep we deserve.
Kate: As the space where you relax and recharge, it’s important that your bedroom evokes peace and tranquillity. Incorporating “green” elements into your home will help you feel connected to nature, and in turn create a calm atmosphere perfect for winding down and ensuring a restful night’s sleep. This use of what’s known as biophilic design has proven to reduce stress and leave positive effects on wellbeing, which is now more important than ever.
What are some simple steps we can take to having a more eco-friendly bedroom?
Thijs: Invest in products that are eco-friendly and sustainable. These might include a mattress and bedding made of organic and natural materials, and naturally sourced furniture that is FSC-certified or recycled. You could also use air-conditioning only when necessary, use LED lighting and reduce standby electricity, and decorate your space with indoor house plants to help purify the air.
Kate: Opt for furniture crafted from renewable, chemical-free materials, such as solid eco-wood and natural fibres. We love how wood naturally grounds a space while adding plenty of warmth and character, as well as how handwoven baskets can add a beautifully natural tactile finish. Consider adding soft furnishings made from natural textiles such as cotton or linen; this will create a lovingly layered effect and enhance the look of your own cosy sanctuary.
Tell us about the eco features of some of your products.
Thijs: Our mattresses and pillows are made of latex sourced from a GOLS-organic-certified plantation. That means no chemicals have soiled the rubber sap or the soil. The plantation itself is also carbon neutral-certified as the rubber tree (Hevea Brasiliensis) absorbs carbon dioxide like rainforest trees.
Our bed sheets are made of bamboo lyocell fibre. This is the most environmentally-friendly way of making bamboo sheets as it’s a closed-loop manufacturing process, and only uses natural dyes. Bamboo plants themselves are also very eco-friendly. They can grow with little water and help prevent soil erosion. And, like rubber trees, they’re also very good at absorbing CO2.
Kate: Sustainability sits at the heart of who we are. Many of our signature solid eco-wood collections are reclaimed (from old Indonesian houses, fishermen’s boats and even railway sleepers), FSC-certified or sustainably sourced. Our suppliers share our commitment to the environment, and maintain the same standard of sustainability. So, water-soluble dyes are properly disposed of, and our wood is kept free of chemicals and in its natural form; this reflects a holistic approach to creating furniture that’s as sustainable as it is stylish.
We also offer collections using wooden off-cuts that otherwise would be left to waste; it gives another lease of life to these small pieces of beautiful, character-filled wood. Our accessories are sourced from local artisans to support grassroots businesses and their communities while preserving age-old handcrafting traditions.
What else do you do in terms of promoting the green side of the business?
Thijs: Aside from choosing eco-friendly materials and suppliers, we also donate to charity by recycling our mattresses for the needy. Additionally, we’re a proud sponsor of students in the Sumba Hospitality Foundation. This sustainable organisation offers hospitality training to youths in Sumba so they can find work in Bali hotels. Lastly, we’re in the process of becoming carbon-neutral ourselves and are devising a plan to only work with suppliers who are carbon neutral (or willing to work on becoming carbon-neutral).
Kate: We work with Trees4Trees, an independent non-profit organisation that shares our passion for the environment. Together, we have continually planted new trees (over 90,000 to date), keeping our natural forests replenished for future generations to enjoy. We’ve also begun a transformational tree-planting project in the Wonosari village of Java, Indonesia. Closer to home, we offer biodegradable packaging at our TREE café, partnering with HK Recycles to ensure that our recyclables aren’t sent to landfill. We also support communities in need through charitable collaborations, such as Angels for Children.
Also: 4 Fab Plants to Add
Adding indoor plants to a bedroom not only gives you an actual green look to go with the eco-friendly/green feel, but it’s also a great natural way to improve air quality and remove toxins, thereby contributing to a better living environment and better sleep. We asked Keren Goldman of Hong Kong-based Keren’s Garden for four recommendations.
#1 Snake Plant
The best plant for the bedroom is the snake plant. It’s a great air-purifying plant, for starters. But you can also grow it under almost any light conditions (from direct sun to moderate low light), making it among the easiest plants to grow. The snake plant thrives on neglect, while also emitting oxygen at night.
#2 Money Plant
The Golden Pothos, or money plant, is another great air-purifying option. You can grow it in soil or water, and it’s easy to propagate; that means once you have one plant you can make many more plants from it. It grows well in humid conditions, and has lovely variegated patterns.
#3 Peace Lily
Besides looking beautiful and helping create a tranquil vibe, the peace lily is another great air-purifying plant. It also lowers the microbe count in the air, helping to relieve allergy symptoms. Note: Peace lilies aren’t safe for cats; best to keep them away from any pet.
#4 Aloe Vera
The aloe plant has many uses besides helping to purify the air. It’s great for skincare and haircare, for example; just cut the leaf lengthwise and spread the gel on your skin or hair as needed. Indoors, it should only be placed in a very bright spot, so it’s best on a windowsill or near a balcony.
Plants to avoid
There are other plants that are often recommended for the bedroom, including lavender and valerian. However, they rarely grow well in Hong Kong’s humid environment, and will often die shortly after you buy them. It’s best to choose plants that suit the HK climate; you also need to pay attention to the light conditions required by each plant. The four listed here are ideal. In fact, they’re even recommended for households by no less an organisation than NASA on account of their air-cleaning properties!
Beside removing toxins and purifying the air, plants create a haven and a feeling of sanctuary. Caring for them can be a relaxing form of meditation that contributes to a more relaxing environment and a better state of mind.
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