How to create an Organic nursery for your Baby

Gecco Interiors Natural nursery range

At Gecco Interiors we have spent the last few years gathering all the fabulous, sustainable, chemical free products in our eco-friendly product range to help you to create wonderful design schemes for your own ‘green’ homes. We are often asked for information and ideas about how to create a safe, toxin free nursery or kids bedroom – after all the increase in asthma and eczema has its roots in off-gassing of new furnishings and children’s immune systems are much less developed than ours. We thought it was time to create a section on the website just for kids.

So how do you create an Eco-friendly, natural nursery? Here are the main things to think about:

Flooring – the main culprit in asthma and eczema is the dust mite, which lives in normal house dust. To keep this to a minimum choose a wooden, cork, rubber or vinyl flooring and then soften the look with rugs that can be washed regularly. Failing that, look for natural wool carpets in natural shades that have not been dyed, even though they will still have been treated with pesticide and often stain repellent.

Walls – there really is no excuse to use anything but natural paint these days as there are so manylovely shades to choose from. The natural paints are made using a mixure of plant oils and not petroleum. They have zero VOC emissions, are easy to apply and smell fantastic! The best news is that the air will not be polluted by off-gassing for the first years of your baby’s life.

Furniture – look for wooden furniture that has been finished with natural oil or non VOC paints

Mattreses – there are many different natural and organic mattresses on the market today and the woollen fleece layer wrapped around them reduces the number of dust mites, whilst also regulating your baby’s body temperature (as recommended by FSID)

Bedding – look for bedding made of certified ‘organic cotton’, in the UK the Soil Association has certified many gorgeous bedding ranges to fit all sizes of bed

Curtains & Blinds – don’t go and ruin the overall natural design by buying curtains made of fabric using chemical dyes and finishes, as they too will off-gas for some time. There is now a huge choice of organic and sustainable fabrics in vibrant or pastel shades that would compliment any kids room scheme.

For more inspiration, why not check out our new nursery and kids section, or call our in-house eco interior designer Angie Kraft on 01494 565459

Hemp – a true environmental hero!

Can hemp truly be seen as an environmental hero?
Gorgeous Hemp & Wool upholstery fabric £32/m in 31 shades

At Gecco Interiors, we have always carried a range of beautiful, soft and vibrant hemp fabrics that worked equally well for curtains as domestic upholstery – Hardy Organic Hemp. Recently we launched our 2nd hemp fabric range, this time a textured, hard wearing yet gorgeous upholstery fabric mixed with wool – Hemp Plus. We thought it was time to examine the wonderful properties of this amazing plant for it is slowly becoming known as an environmental hero.

History
The first recorded piece of canvas is made of hemp fibres from 8000BC and it survives to this day! The Chinese created paper using hemp over 2000 years ago. During the great days of discovery almost all ships set sail using hemp ropes and sails. Pioneers crossed the newly found American frontier beneath wagons covered in hemp canvas sheets. Hemp seed was a mainstay in bread making in this country before wheat came along. It seems that hemp has always been a supercrop and yet it has been left behind with the advent of the industrial revolution and the introduction of foreign crops and fossil fuels, but all that may be changing.

Global Warming
As scientists and researchers look into new products to help tackle climate change, hemp, one of our oldest recorded crops, is taking centre stage. Here are a few key facts about this amazing crop

Pesticides & Pollution – Hemp can grow anywhere and needs much less pesticide control than other crops especially when compared with cotton which uses 25% of the world’s pesticides every year! Even more incredible is that hemp actually draws up toxins from the earth, almost cleaning it through a process called phytomerediation (1st-ecofriendlyplanet.com)

Erosion – due to the long roots of the hemp plant, soil suffers less erosion when a hemp crop is grown

Carbon Emissions – according to a recent report for LBJ, an acre of hemp has been recorded to remove up to 10times the amount of C02 from the atmosphere as an acre of trees.

High Yield – the same acre of hemp can produce fibres to make four times the amount of paper that the acre of trees can produce. One hectare of hemp can produce 1 tonne of fibre which in turn can create 5,400metres of hemp fabric.

Fast Growing – Hemp is one of the fastest growing crops on Earth reaching 3 metres in just 120 days, making it much more sustainable to farm than trees which can take up to 25years to reach the same height.

Low Irrigation – Hemp does not need anywhere near the amount of water demanded by thirstier crops such as cotton

Clean production – both paper and cotton industries are a huge source of pollution not least of all due to the fact that their fibres must be bleached, traditionally with chlorine. Hemp fibres do not need bleaching which makes for a much cleaner manufacturing process.

Biofuel potential – the hemp seed itself is high is oil content that is easily converted into hemp plastics and bio fuel similar to ethanol, thereby reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. It also releases much less carbon dioxide when burned and almost no sulfur dioxide compared with burning fossil fuel.

It seems that there is no end to the environmental advantages of this supercrop and the industries now using hemp in their own manufacturing grows daily, here are just a few:

Fuel
Plastics
Cosmetics
Construction
Paints
Medicines
Health and Well-being
Paper

And of course……Fabric!

Hardy Organic Hemp is suitable for curtains, blinds and domestic upholstery, comes in 13 vibrant shades and costs £79.00/m

Hemp Plus is suitable for all kinds of upholstery and curtains, comes in 31 gorgeous colours and costs £32.00/m

The applications are endless but the choice is yours!

Design Trend– the Eco Way – A Hint of Mustard

MissPrint muscat wallpaper - yellow

This season touches of mustard are heating up design schemes in many different guises. Whether you like a complete room in this warm tone or simply want to add touches for a slightly retro feel, mustard adds warmth and vibrancy to any design scheme. Here is how to decorate with mustard in a sustainable way. To find out more about these products simply click on the links to the Gecco Interiors website….

Give an Ol’ Sideboard a Break!

Are you trying to furnish and redecorate your home in a sustainable way but worry about the effect of buying so much new stuff? As an eco interior designer I often try to incorporate older vintage pieces into a room scheme. It not only adds timeless style and a sense of character to the room but it is the ultimate in recycling. Give the piece a makeover with new doorhandles or paint and you have Oliver Heath’s key phrase – ‘upcycling’.

Endless pieces of quality furniture end up unloved and on the scrap heap at the end of their life as we all search for the latest interior fashion. True sustainable design incorporates quality older pieces to stunning effect.

But where can we find these beautiful wardrobes, sideboards, bedsteads and the like? Naturally you can spend your weekends leisurely strolling through local markets and second-hand stores – an activity I can thoroughly recommend! For those who live a little more remotely or simply want to see what is out there, here are a few websites to help you on your way:

www.preloved.co.uk
www.50’swarehouse.co.uk
www.luna-online.co.uk

They each work slightly differently, but all offer a range of used furniture for sale from the 20’s through to 90’s and beyond. You never know, your dream bedstead might be out there. Enjoy the search!

More Sunlight & lower Carbon Emissions! What a plan!

The latest brainwave by Environmentalist Group 10:10 could save the UK 500,000 tonnes of carbon emissions every year and it is so very simple!

In our country, we move the clocks around and in so doing waste valuable daylight in the morning and burn expensive lightbulbs in the evening. 10:10 are proposing a change in the way we do this. A plan called ‘Lighter Later’ suggests that we move our clocks forward by one hour for the whole year. We should then change our clocks as normal in Spring and Autumn. This would equate to GMT +2hours in the Summer and GMT +1 in the Winter, which would give us all valuable daylight hours when we were awake and not at 4.30am when most of us are sleeping. It would also delay the time at which we switch on our electric lights in the winter – sometimes as early as 3.30pm in the afternoon.

So all in all, we would gain more sunlight, reduce our electricity consumption, save money and reduce the carbon emissions!

The 10:10 campaigners are collecting signatures which will be presented to the Prime Minister on June 21st, the longest day of the year. They already have 10,000 signatures but would love to get 5,000 more in the next few days. To sign up to the campaign follow the link and be a part of the solution!
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Retrofit lightbulbs to solve your lighting problems!

Now that the incandescent lightbulb has been removed from the shop shelves we are all adjusting to the shape and light of the low energy lightbulb. But how many of us are put off by the size and odd shapes of the standard CFL bulbs out there? As a designer, I am appalled to see the tubular top of a low energy bulb sticking out of a beautiful wall light or chandelier where a lovely candle bulb used to sit.

With the new range of retrofit low energy bulbs available at www.geccointeriors.co.uk this problem is a thing of the past. The range includes lovely shaped candle and golf balls for all types of fittings, they use just 7W instead of 35W and cost just £3.98 each.

Check the new low energy light bulb range out today and make your wall-lights beautiful again!

The Facts behind Green Dry Cleaning

As a supplier of many different sustainably produced and organic textiles, I am concerned that we are often advising our customers to care for their textiles using ‘Green Dry Cleaning’. I wanted to know the facts behind green dry cleaning. Does it exist in the UK and what does it involve and finally how is it ‘greener’?

Traditionally, dry cleaning meant cleaning clothes in liquids other than water and the solvent of choice was perchloroethyene or ‘perc’. This has since been proven to be a nervous system depressant and under US federal standards is listed as a hazardous air pollutant. An alternative method had to be found. Three new methods were favoured – washing with liquid CO2 in high pressured machines, using a silicone based solvent and finally, but much less effectively washing with regular water in computer controlled machines.

Discarding the latter due to poor results, lets look firstly at CO2. Normally present in gas form, CO2 transforms into a liquid under high-pressure. In specially designed machines clothes are washed at 900llbs per square inch of pressure in liquid carbon dioxide and a surfectant (specialist detergent). After the clothes have been washed and rinsed, the CO2 is collected and reused. Several US textile companies have already started using this system commercially, but it is not common in the UK.

The stronger candidate for widespread ‘green dry cleaning’ comes from a group of ex-dry cleaners who have developed a system called Green Earth Cleaning. This system uses liquid silicone (a liquid version of sand) which is a naturally occurring material and is already used as the base material for many shampoos and soaps on the market today. Textiles cleaned using liquid silicone do not lose their colour, do not shrink and come back feeling softer than before because the silicone is inert and doesn’t react with the fibres of the fabric in an aggressive way. It can even be recommended for the most delicate of fabrics. The best thing about this method of cleaning is that there are no nasty residues. When the silicone breaks down it forms three natural ingredients – water, carbon dioxide and sand.

Liquid Silicone appears to be the method of choice for UK Dry Cleaners and it is already available on the High Street!

WWF Earth Hour 2010 is a huge success!

Earth Hour 2010 took place at 8.30pm last Saturday across the globe. WWF reports that over 4,000 cities in 126 countries took part in turning off their lights for one hour to show support for the campaign against climate change.

In a spectacular show of global unity famous landmarks were left in the dark including Big Ben, the Palace of Westminster, the Eiffel Tower, the Great Pyramids, Rome’s Coliseum, Sydney’s Opera House and the Forbidden City in China.

In the UK lights went out across the country at landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, Tower Bridge, Wales Millennium Centre and Stadium in Cardiff, Edinburgh Castle and the Wheel in Belfast.

Thousands of families and businesses also took part in what is meant to be a demonstration to governments across the globe that we care about the planet and demand action on climate change.

In our household the candles were lit and lights turned off – on fact we just turned the electricity off at the mains. James and I settled down with our 12 year old daughter to a huge game of dominoes on the living room floor! It was great fun and in fact we left the lights off late on as well. When we turned the electricity back on the hum of the appliances around the house was shocking! Perhaps we should implement this Earth Hour more often. There is in fact a call for a monthly Earth Hour – I think we might just join in!

For more information and to see the fantastic photo diaries from around the world check out the WWF UK website. It is truly inspirational.

Open Day at UK Super Homes March 28th 2010

50 UK Homes are opening their doors this Sunday to show us all how to reftrofit our existing homes with energy saving insulation, boilers, solar panels and a whole host of other ideas. They have each achieved a minimum of 60% reduction in their carbon emissions – now we can too!

To find a ‘Superhome’ near you, check out the website or visit the Great British Refurb Campaign to find out more

Can you recyle an old carpet?

A shocking statistic – 500,000 tonnes of carpet are buried in landfill in the UK every year! There has to be another solution. So, can you recycle an old carpet?

One new company is leading the way, building their own plant to take some of the carpets, break them down and sell their component materials on as raw materials to other industries from polypropolene and nylon to wool, hessian and jute. Greenback Recycling are even working with local authorities and have managed to get dedicated carpet recycling containers placed at local recycling collection points. They intend to spread this plan nationally.

Until then, it is worth checking with your local authority to see if they take carpet for recycling. If not, what else can be done?

- If it, or a large part of it, is in good condition try offering it on Freecycle. You never know, someone could be waiting for that particular posting!
- Offer it to local schools or preschool groups
- Reuse it yourself as a good insulator in an attic room or outdoor shed or even to cover the compost heap
- Offer it to local gardening groups or allotment societies who can use it on their compost heaps