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Mississippians join eco-friendly home furnishings movement

Bringing home the green

It’s cool to be green. Who doesn’t want to be good to the earth by taking better care of our natural resources, being more resourceful and less wasteful, and combining smarter building practices and design, recycling and more?

“Environmental or green design is a very important trend for both consumers and design professionals in Mississippi,” said Michelle Hawkins, director of the Interior Design Department at JBHM Architects in Jackson. “There are many different ways one can support reducing environmental impacts of manufacturing processes, construction, remodeling and furnishings. For commercial furnishings, many product lines offer textiles and furnishings containing recycled content, rapidly renewable content and regional materials.”

When considering a green product, the consumer sees the end product, but the environmental story starts much earlier, Hawkins pointed out.

“It’s the energy used during the manufacturing process, the wood and materials, the finish, the ways the manufacturer disposes of waste and even the glue that holds it together,” she explained. “Many furnishing vendors market green products in their standard line, so it’s not as expensive as once thought. At JBHM Architects, we have many designers who are LEED AP (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professionals). We strive to work with our clients on a project by project basis within their scope of work to be environmentally responsible. Green is here to stay.”

Green home furnishings are moving mainstream because of a wider variety of materials available in the manufacturing process. For example, as a result of recent advances in recycling, once-discarded plastic and paper products are now being reused for industrial purposes to make products like tables and chairs. In particular, lightweight, accessible and easy-to-shape cardboard lends itself to creative designs in home furnishings.

Joining the re-use movement may involve making small changes as simple as switching out interior lamps. A particularly innovative re-use design incorporates used chopsticks into lamp stand fabrication.

“Many people are taking another look at antiques, because that’s an attractive part of recycling that is often overlooked,” said Nancy Price, president of Nancy Price Interiors Inc. in Fondren of Jackson, who sells eco-friendly furnishings, including white-hot cotton-linen fabrics. “There are so many beautiful antiques just waiting to be reclaimed.”

Based on the unprecedented level of public support for the environment, the growing demand for eco-friendly goods and the response by home furnishings manufacturers with greener products, the San Francisco Mart held the nation’s first trade and home show — Live Green, Live Well — solely dedicated to green furnishings and design in September 2007. The show offered a full range of home furnishings products and price points from established and emerging manufacturers using greener raw materials and/or manufacturing methods.

“Compared with related industries, such as architecture and building products, the home furnishings component is in its infancy, yet demand is reaching an extraordinary level,” said San Francisco Mart general manager Roseann Carini. “Our designers have told us their clients are extremely eager to find eco-friendly home furnishings. Live Green, Live Well helped them discover products that aligned with their own and their clients’ personal values and style.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at Lynne.Jeter@gmail.com.

About Lynne W. Jeter

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