Sustainable, Eco-Friendly Upgrades for Outdoor Living

Screenshot 2023-04-27 at 1.38.18 PM

As the weather finally turns for us here in central Ohio, we’ve got outdoor living on the mind. While many people hit the box stores to shop, we thought our community would benefit from a roundup of sustainable, eco-friendly upgrades for outdoor living. 

Whether it’s your backyard, patio, or balcony, there are many ways to create an inviting outdoor space while being kind to the environment. In this blog post, we’ll be highlighting sustainable and eco-friendly options for outdoor furniture, lighting, planters, decor, dinnerware, and more!

Keep reading for a roundup of sustainable, eco-friendly upgrades for outdoor living.

Outdoor Furniture

Image via West Elm

When it comes to patio furniture, choosing sustainable and eco-friendly options does not mean sacrificing style! There are currently several companies that make wonderful eco-friendly outdoor furniture, and more that are entering the market every day. 

  • Two larger companies that offer a wide range of sustainable and reasonably-priced patio furniture are West Elm and Crate & Barrel. Most of their wood pieces use materials such as FSC-certified wood, which means the wood has been sustainably harvested and is sourced from responsibly managed forests. They also offer furniture made from recycled plastic, which helps keep plastic out of landfills! 
  • Neighbor is another company using FSC-certified teak in their wood line of patio furniture. They also ship their products on compact, recyclable packaging.
  • For both timeless and unique outdoor pieces we are huge fans of Masya and Co. They too use FSC-certified teak in their products and their production process is built around reforesting deforested cattle lands.

We also recommend visiting your local furniture resale and consignment stores in the spring and summer to look for gently used patio furniture. Oftentimes, people will sell off beautiful, expensive pieces that are still in great working condition when they go to upgrade their space, downsize, or even move. One of our favorite finds was a pair of green wrought iron accent chairs with ornate cushions at an extremely shocking price point. So resale shops are definitely worth checking out! 

Lighting

Image via Lights4Fun

Outdoor lighting is an absolute must if you want to create a cozy and inviting atmosphere in your outdoor space. Three great sustainable lighting options are solar powdered garden lights, LED lights and rechargeable lights.

Solar-powered garden lights

Solar powered lights don’t require any electricity, they simply charge during the day using the sun’s energy. There are many companies that offer solar-powered lights, including easily accessible retailers like IKEA, Home Depot, and Amazon, so you’re bound to find a style that suits you.

A few ways we love to use solar lights are:

  • To line your walkways
  • Tucked between your foliage to create ambient lighting throughout your garden
  • As table top lanterns to help luminate your outdoor activities at night.

Anyone else love a good board game on the patio at night?!

LuminAID offers inflatable solar-powered lights that are perfect for outdoor use, and they also donate a portion of their profits to disaster relief efforts which is even more of a reason to check them out!

LED lights

These are energy-efficient and last much longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. If you love the look of globe string lights overhead there are many wonderful LED options available! Again, these LED lights are sold at many accessible retailers like Target, Amazon and Home Depot.

Rechargeable lights

A rechargeable table top lantern powered by an LED bulb is another great option for illuminating your nightly outdoor activities. We love this gorgeous rechargeable brass lantern not only for its beautiful glow, but it makes for a stunning piece of decor as well! 

Pro Tip: We only recommend solar powered lights for those who have an open yard that receives at least 8 hours of direct sunlight during the day. Smaller yards with trees overhead often don’t receive enough sunlight to ensure that your lights will be bright enough at the end of the day.

Planters

Photo via The Sill

Adding potted plants to your outdoor space not only adds beauty but also helps your local bee community thrive! While most people don’t necessarily want bees nearby when they’re lounging outdoors, putting bee-loving plants at the edge of your yard is a great way to give them a little love but keep them out of your direct vicinity.

When choosing planters, it’s important to look for ones made from sustainable materials. 

  • An excellent place to look for sustainable and fair trade pots and planters is The Citizenry. They source beautiful designs that are made from eco-friendly materials like tikal wood, clay, ceramic, or glass. 
  • The Sill offers a variety of planters made from natural materials, like bamboo or terracotta. And they prioritize sustainability in their shipping and packaging practices, which we love! 

Planters are another great item you can often find at your local consignment shops and even garage sales for fantastic prices. They can be a fraction of the price they would be new. And you’re helping to keep them out of the landfills which is an added bonus. Be sure though to hit these places up early in the season – April and early May – so you can snag the best items before someone else snatches them up!

Outdoor Rugs

Photo via Rejuvenation

Outdoor rugs are a great way to add color and texture to your outdoor space. When it comes to choosing sustainable, eco-friendly upgrades for outdoor living in the rug space, look for ones made from natural materials, such as jute or hemp which are biodegradable and renewable materials. Jute and hemp also do not require as much water to produce compared to other outdoor rug materials enhancing their sustainability attributes even further!

  • One company that offers a wonderful selection of sustainable rugs is Rejuvenation. In addition to their timeless and quality line of home goods and fixtures, Rejuvenation’s line of rugs use organic cotton, jute, and hemp—all natural materials we LOVE. They also offer outdoor rugs made from recycled plastic bottles.

Pro Tip: Hemp is the best material to use if you’re planning on using your rug in an uncovered area such as your patio because it is naturally water resistant – it does not absorb water, but rather repels it. It also will not fade or break down from UV rays, and is an extremely durable material. Jute on the other hand does absorb water and can be prone to mold and mildew so it is best to use jute rugs in outdoor areas that are covered, such as porches.

Check before you buy

An important thing to note about most outdoor rugs is that they are typically made from synthetic materials like acrylic, polyester, nylon and polypropylene because these materials are water resistant and hardwearing. So be sure to check the materials before buying your rug to make sure it does not contain any of these materials. Or if it does, that these materials are recycled.

Outdoor Pillows

Image via Etsy Shop SCOUTbytheSeaPillows

Outdoor pillows are a great way to add comfort and style to your outdoor seating. When choosing eco-friendly outdoor pillows, look for ones made from natural materials, such as organic cotton or linen. These materials are biodegradable and renewable, making them an eco-friendly choice. 

  • We love to find unique, sustainable outdoor pillows on Etsy from sellers who use organic cotton and recycled materials.
  • Another great option is West Elm, which offers outdoor pillows made from recycled materials, such as plastic bottles. Please note though that not all of West Elm’s outdoor pillows are made from recycled materials so it’s best to check all of the materials first before purchasing.

Pro Tip: For pillows that come as a cover only and need a pillow insert, Kapok inserts are a sustainable choice for outdoor pillows as they are naturally water resistant and quick drying. Kapok is a natural fiber made from the seed pods of Kapok trees. Bean Products offers quality Kapok pillow inserts in a variety of sizes, and their pillows are available on Amazon.

Dinnerware

Image via BambuHome

If you’re planning on enjoying meals in your outdoor space, it’s important to choose non-breakable alternatives. Glassware and ceramic are natural materials but they break too easily, so you’ll need to find options that are still non-toxic and plastic-free. Enter, dinnerware to complete your sustainable, eco-friendly upgrades for outdoor living.

Bamboo or wood as sustainable, eco-friendly upgrades for outdoor living

Both of these materials are biodegradable and renewable, and make for excellent serveware. There are two companies we adore who make wonderful bamboo serveware:

  • Bambu Home, which uses bamboo in their plates, bowls, and utensils. Their cork bowls are also wonderful and so unique!!
  • Ekobo uses recycled bamboo to make their dinnerware and serving pieces. And these come in fun bright colors to really celebrate the summer mood!

Enamel serveware as sustainable, eco-friendly upgrades for outdoor living

Enamel serveware is another great eco-friendly option as long as the enamel is made with non-toxic paints. Two beautiful Turkish enamelware brands we love are Bornn and Kapka.

  • We adore Bornn enamelware plates, cups and serving pieces for their bright and colorful designs. Nothing says summer fun more than bold colors and playful patterns.
  • Kapka is another brand we love who also makes gorgeous brightly colored enamel plates, cups and serverware. And they offer carbon neutral shipping for an added bonus!

We hope this guide will help you make those essential (and sustainable!) updates to your outdoor living space.

keep reading

Interior Designer Andrea Durcik Columbus Ohio

meet Andrea!

Traveling, animals, and all things design encompass Andrea’s life, fueling her creative energy every step of the way.

browse by topic

search

shop sustainably