Does sustainable mean expensive?

With the unified goal of reaching our net zero target for 2050, individuals and designers are considering new ways to provide more sustainable solutions. With so many factors that impact the carbon footprint of a design, it is sometimes hard to know where to begin. With products offering increased energy efficiency, more ethical material selection and considered production methods it raises many questions, but perhaps one more than others: Does sustainable always have to mean expensive?

Material world

Starting with the material selection, when it comes to design, can be a great basis. The shift away from fast-furniture (such as flat-packed furnishings made from cheaper materials) has led to a new way of assessing cost-effectiveness. Instead of considering immediate spending, it is important to look at the longer picture. With a reduction of furniture ending up in landfills and the decreased need to replace furniture regularly – a quality piece, made ethically, can really prove its worth over time.

Durable materials with low toxicity like cork, hemp, bamboo and reclaimed wood are great choices, as well recycled materials used by companies like Loveitownit producing furniture created from hundreds of single-use plastics such as water bottles and yoghurt pots.  Of course, manufacturers have a huge responsibility to find ecologically safe ways to build their products and deliver them to clients, but the support of customers and government funding will hopefully fine-tune these manufacturing processes.


The life-cycle of materials is an important factor. Supporting the circular economy by shopping at places that sell second-hand and vintage furniture – gives new life to unwanted pieces – extending their life. Before discarding unwanted items, remember that there are many easy ways to cost-effectively upcycle old furniture. By simply adding new handles, painting it a different colour, or even adding legs to an item can totally transform it in a cost-effective way. Upcycling not only reduces material consumption and the creation of new waste but also allows for unique, bespoke pieces.

What is a carbon footprint?

A carbon footprint is calculated by measuring the total amount of greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide) created by our actions. This usage can be reduced in many ways. Changing the way we travel, eat, use water, insulate our homes as well as switching to renewable energy sources.

Energy efficient home

There are simple ways you can incorporate energy efficient choices in your design.

  • Include the use of carpets, curtains and proper insulation to help reduce a household’s need for heating.
  • Plan for energy-efficient lighting – According to the Energy Saving Trust, lighting makes up ‘16% total electricity use[1] in our households. Switching to LED lighting can have a real impact on your energy costs said to save from ‘£1 – £4 a year’ on each bulb you switch to LED.
  • Include energy-efficient fixings like smart lights with sensors.
  • Consider which colours will absorb or reflect heat
  • Pick timeless and neutral pieces to adapt with changing surroundings


Make a change

There are many cost-effective ways to embrace a sustainable lifestyle and utilising them in the design of homes will make huge strides in meeting our decarbonising targets.  Planning for long-term designs that are adaptable and durable are now key considerations. Design smart, design consciously.


If you would like to create a sustainable space and are seeking advice on how to get started – then please get in touch with us at here for more information.






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