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Décor items such as furniture, carpet, plants, and paint can have a range of environmental and health impacts based on their production, transportation, use, and disposal. By purchasing products produced locally and in a more sustainable manner, your facility or event can reduce its contribution to global warming, water pollution, habitat destruction, and many other negative impacts. When designing interiors or décor items, give preference to products that can be reused, contain recycled or bio-based content, are non-toxic, and are locally grown.

When purchasing set pieces, furniture, floor coverings, and construction materials, look for wood products that are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified wherever possible, and at minimum ensure that any wood products are guaranteed to be legally harvested. See the Wood section for details.

Environmentally preferable alternatives to virgin wood products include repurposed wood or recycled content plastic lumber. For additional environmental considerations when purchasing wood-based products, visit The NRDC Consumer’s Guide to Buying Wood.

Whenever possible, reuse set pieces and furniture and store them for later events. When disposing of these items, consider donating furniture to senior centers or other charitable organizations for reuse, and recycle construction materials (ask your waste hauler for assistance).

When purchasing carpet, choose carpet that is reusable, non-toxic, and contains recycled content, and ensure these products do not contain PVC and are low-VOC emitters. Where possible, look for Green Label/Green Label Plus products. Instead of purchasing carpeting for an event, where feasible rent carpeting that can returned to the manufacturer afterwards for reuse, and ultimately recycled.

When purchasing paints, finishes, or wood preservatives, choose low-VOC emitting products. See the Low-VOC Products section for more information.

When decorating, give priority to live plants rather than cut flowers. Choose plants that are locally and organically grown when possible. If you plan to use plants as décor for an individual event, consider renting plants that can be returned to the vendor for reuse. If you use cut flowers or plants that require disposal, consider donating them afterwards to charitable organizations, give them to event attendees, or compost them. When choosing plants for landscaping, select plants that are drought-resistant and native to the climate and location of your facility. See the Landscaping section for more information on water-efficient irrigation practices and drought-tolerant plant species.

Additional Resources

EPA Environmentally Preferable Purchasing
Green Seal
Forest Stewardship Council
The Carpet and Rug Institute: Green Label and Green Label Plus