These days, sustainability has become more than just a sporadic practice—it’s an integral part of our daily lives. From the food we eat to the decor in our homes, the concept of sustainable living is at the forefront of our decision-making. The evolving landscape of sustainability was recently explored at Hearst Magazines’ second annual Sustainability Summit, titled “The Future Of Eco-Conscious Living.” The summit brought together experts from the realms of interior design, fabrication, and retail to discuss the current state of sustainable living, its trajectory, and its growing significance.
The increased amount of time people spend at home for work, living, and leisure has heightened awareness of our surroundings. According to New York-based interior designer Laurence Carr, this has led to a greater sensitivity to environments and a better understanding of the importance of healthy materials. Consumers today are more conscious than ever, desiring transparency about the products they purchase—wanting to know where it came from and how it was made. Jaimee Seabury, vice president of business development and strategy at Williams-Sonoma, emphasized the importance of being transparent about the origins and production processes of products.
Living sustainably goes beyond aesthetics; designers now prioritize the sustainability of materials. Eco-chic options like TENCEL fibers, reclaimed wood, and recycled glass are increasingly used to enhance the ambiance of homes. Sustainable textiles, such as those made with TENCEL Lyocell fibers, are being employed in everything from rugs to upholstery due to their eco-friendly and low-impact nature. Walter Bridgham from the Lenzing Group, TENCEL’s parent company, highlighted the superior color retention and environmental benefits of TENCEL fibers.
From foundations to facades, homeowners and builders are incorporating chemical-free and low-impact materials. The demand for standard certification in products and materials is growing, with an emphasis on certifications for wood, bamboo, cork, low-VOC paints, and water-based finishes. Low-embodied carbon materials, like brick and fiberglass, are gaining popularity in mainstream building practices.
Green fabrics have evolved significantly, with companies like Pottery Barn using TENCEL Lyocell fibers for bedding collections. These fibers are not only sustainable but also offer smoothness, strength, efficient moisture management, and detailing normally found in percale or linen. The focus is on creating products that are not only eco-friendly during production but also reusable and recyclable.
A critical aspect of sustainability is responsible consumerism, which involves understanding the language on product labels. Third-party certifications play a vital role in validating a product’s sustainability claims. Examples highlighted at the summit include Cradle to Cradle, Green Guard, and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), each emphasizing different aspects of sustainability—from material health and recyclability to indoor-air quality and socially responsible manufacturing.
The Sustainability Summit underscored the evolving nature of sustainable living and its increasing relevance in our daily choices. As consumers become more educated and demand transparency, the industry is responding by incorporating eco-friendly materials and practices, paving the way for a more sustainable and responsible future.