5 Tips to Make Your Home Safe, Green & Healthy from Zem Joaquin

by , 04/27/15

5 Tips to Green Your Home With Zem Joaquin, green home, green design, eco design, ecofabulous, eco-fabulous, sustainable design, green design, green interior design, green interiors

Tip 5 — Treat Your Windows With Earth-Friendly Options


When it comes to saving energy, windows are one of the most important elements of your home in terms of regulating temperature and light — if they are not properly dressed they can easily contribute to heat loss or excessive solar gain. That’s why it is essential to consider eco-wise curtains and drapes that help regulate sun exposure while contributing to a healthy living environment and do not waste precious resources.

Zem's living room, eco-friendly curtains, green curtains, green window treatments, eco design, eco home, green home, green living, C2C design, cradle-to-cradle design, eco-friendly flooring, eco floors, green flooring, green floorsPhoto from Traditional Home Magazine: Zem’s living room: the chocolate-and-cream curtains were vintage finds bought at the Alameda antiques fair.

Avoid monstrous hybrids!

When picking out curtains or shades, it’s important to look for products made from organic materials that do not contain toxic adhesives — many companies that produce window treatments use petroleum-based materials. At all costs avoid “monstrous hybrids” made from blends of synthetic fibers like polyester and organic fibers like cotton. Many well-intentioned but uninformed companies think it makes a synthetic product slightly ‘greener’ to mix some organic cotton or linen into a polyester mix. They are wrong! Due to the very different physical properties of these opposing materials, absolutely nothing can be done with these blends at the end of their lifecycle and they are just destined for landfill. On its own, 100% pure polyester can be recycled – but not when it is mixed with cotton. On its own, 100% pure cotton can biodegrade back into the soil – but not when it is mixed with polyester. When it comes to window treatments (and most other products) opt for either a pure organic or a pure synthetic.

For window treatments that are affordable, easy to install, and highly customizable, take a look at Smith+Noble. If you’re going custom-made all the way, check out the beautiful organic fabric from modgreenpod.

Zem's living room, wool carpet, eco design, eco home, green home, green living, C2C design, cradle-to-cradle design, eco-friendly flooring, eco floors, green flooring, green floorsPhoto from Traditional Home Magazine spread: Zem in her beautiful green Marin County home

ABC Carpet and Home
Amy Butler Design
HD Buttercup
Hammocks & High Tea

+ Traditional Home Magazine
+ Design*Sponge Interview
+ Feature in Treehugger

Some of America’s most energy-efficient LEED showcase homes feature the very same Marvin windows that you can buy for your own home. Marvin believes in building top performance into windows and doors with proven technology that are accessible to the average homeowner. And the proof is in the numbers: Marvin has more than more than 150,000 window and door products that are ENERGY STAR certified. More than 80 percent of the existing U.S. housing stock was built before 1990. Replacing old, inefficient windows and doors is one of the best ways to increase America’s overall energy efficiency.

To see how beautiful, efficient Marvin window and doors can become part of your home, sign up for Marvin’s online remodeling planner. This free planner helps you visualize space, track budgets and create an inspiration board.

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  1. Jessie Garcia-Pacheco December 27, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Love the telephone bench – super cute look. Gonna go check out eBay for a treasure of my own :)

  2. Ving July 13, 2011 at 4:57 am

    Many many quality piotns there.

  3. jazz568 June 26, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    Great tips for a safe home. Wonder LED lights should be considered especially for children’s rooms. CFL is really dangerous if it’s broken inside a home. EPA’s clean-up procedure guide is really scary.

  4. bronwen June 14, 2011 at 3:58 am

    i would like to know about the window dressing (1st pic). what material did you use? and is that a print on there?

  5. Andreadistmtl May 16, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Thanks for the tips! very simple, accessible and thorough

  6. karenwil April 14, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    Thank you GREENGUARDEnvironmentalInstitute for reminding us that ‘no VOC’ or ‘low VOC’ are also low-emitting” Thanks for the tips on paint.
    Green washing is an increasing issue. There are some advise on Green and how to become LEED certified interior.

  7. GREENGUARDEnvironmental... April 14, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Great article! It’s so important for people to remember that what’s “green” isn’t always what’s healthy!

    One thing that’s REALLY important (since you mentioned VOCs in paints): not all paints labeled “no VOC” or “low VOC” are also low-emitting. The difference is VOC content vs. VOC emissions. Paint manufacturers can claim “no VOC” or “low VOC” as long as their paints don’t react with sunlight to product ground-level ozone (an OUTDOOR, not indoor, environmental issue), so they may not have been assessed for their impact on human health in indoor spaces.

    That’s why it’s so important to look for a third-party certified paint–one that has been scientifically and independently evaluated for use indoors.

    The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute is a third-party organization that certifies products (including paints, yes) to ensure that they’re low-emitting, healthier options for indoor use. There’s a bunch of information about VOCs, how products off-gas chemicals into the indoor air, and simple steps you can take to improve your indoor air quality at http://www.greenguard.org. We encourage you to check it out!

  8. taraprieto April 13, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Great ideas…I wish more people knew how easy it is to implement some of these ideas.

  9. karenwil March 22, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Responding to Knortho’s comment about common sense and green rally. In the IDEAL situation we would always have local renewable materials used for all projects and one day we likely will have too once the resources for depleted.

  10. knortho@yahoo.com March 18, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Isn’t green rally about common sense? And would it not be better to have a local company tht rebuilds old windows or builds them locally support your blog instead of Marvin?

  11. herman miller santa rosa March 15, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Smart, healthy and stylish green living can be created in so many ways.
    Trope group have sensible options for helping create workplace business solutions.

    Sofia you can researcher on the web who is local vendor in your area that sells cork flooring.

  12. sofia i March 14, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Love the article!! I live in Mexico and ecofriendly products are really hard to find. Do you know where I could find cork flooring in Mexico?


  13. icare_dou March 12, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Indoor air quality is always worse than outdoor air quality. Consequently, the best first step to improving the indoor air quality is simply opening the window.

    There have been significant advances in the past several years, so consumers can now actually test and measure the many pollutants in their own home’s indoor air at affordable prices. For example the Sierra Club used passive formaldehyde badges to discover the FEMA trailers. These are extremely easy to use and at $39 affordable for most. Considering California Air Resource Board found that 98% of the homes they tested exceeded the maximum formaldehyde concentration, the question is how bad is your home’s air. These are available on the Internet with one site being ACSbadges.com/formaldehyde.shtml

  14. Zem Joaquin March 10, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    Yuka, clothing is absolutely the same story. There are many brands of gear that are well intentioned but uninformed. Organic linen and cotton can be great but when you mix them with polyester (recycled or virgin), you make the entire product unusable in the future – meaning they will end up in a grave (AKA; landfill). Natural fibers can go back to the biological system (soil) if not combined and many synthetic or man-made fibers can be reinvented by recycling them if they are not mixed with natural fibers.

  15. Diane Pham March 10, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    gorgeous and green house! wonderful tips! can’t wait to try out the window treatments!

  16. Jessica Dailey March 10, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    I’ve been on the hunt for new window treatments, and now I know exactly what to look for… Thanks, Zem!

  17. Kestrel Jenkins March 10, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    I would love to live in Zem’s living room. Gorgeous.

  18. Yuka Yoneda March 10, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Hey Zem, does what you wrote about monstrous blends go for clothing too?

  19. Jill Fehrenbacher March 10, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Great tips Zem – I absolutely love the foot pedals idea and am going to try it in my own house as soon as I can!

    Love your use of cork flooring too – fabulous!

  20. Rebecca Paul March 10, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I love this article. These tips are really accessible and easy to understand.

  21. Jasmin Malik Chua March 10, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Love your kids’ rooms, Zem! What style!

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