Make your living room a low-waste space

The living room is where we display our skills as amateur interior decorators, and it is also a space of comfort. How can you make sure your safe space is sustainable?
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You may think your living room is a waste-free zone, but what happens when you get rid of that large piece of furniture or trash those tissues? To the landfills they go, to produce greenhouse gases and leachates. Here are three areas where you can reduce your waste.


Furniture is the essence of the living room. Great to relax and accommodate guests. A lot of furniture is made from wood, metal, glass or plastic. Apart from the many trees cut to make furniture, bases like plastic create waste that spends an eternity in landfills, adding to toxic waste.

When you are looking for new furniture it is important to first question whether you really need it. Can you make do with what you already have? If it can be mended then try to use it. If it is absolutely not possible to do so, then it should be upcycled, if not, recycled.

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The next best option is to purchase it at a thrift store or from someone giving pieces of furniture away. They say one's waste is another's treasure, and this would be a perfect example of that. This would not only make it cheaper for you, but you would also save a lot of resources that go into producing a new item as well as recycling them. However, for the lowest carbon footprint, try to source it from locations as close as possible.

If none of that works out, the last resort will have to be to go out and buy your furniture. Make sure you choose sustainable materials, ethically produced with the least amount of resources. Also, remember to check the end of life (EOL) of the product and whether it is recyclable.

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About 400 metric tonnes of e-waste is received in Goa annually. There may be so much more that is never disposed of responsibly and goes directly to landfills.

Similar to furniture, choose mindfully to use what you already have. Repair the repairable ones and drop your old, damaged ones at an e-waste collection point. Many brands offer refurbished electronics with a warranty. They take the old electronics and fix them to function as new. This will also help reduce the resources required. So you can buy refurbished ones, thrift them or in the worst case buy new ones. But make sure you buy them from the nearest place to minimise the carbon footprint and the ones that consume the least electricity.

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Tissues and toothpicks

Both are single-use items made from trees and used mindlessly. Most people do not think once before pulling out a tissue or a toothpick in the middle of busy conversations. Replace these resource consuming, single-use items with cloth napkins and reusable toothpicks, sourced sustainably. Everybody should get one of their own. This can be washed and reused.

(Heena Shah is an avid traveller and covers topics such as sustainable travel and lifestyle. Got comments, suggestions? Contact:

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