Green design without stealing your green

Since 1994, Santa Monica has increased its efforts at becoming one of California’s greenest cities. Attempting to take part in this environmental awareness movement, there are students at Santa Monica College (SMC) looking to use eco-friendly products in their living spaces while staying within a typical college student's budget. There are many stores in the area that carry green products. The Green Life, located on Main Street in Santa Monica, is dedicated to selling products made only from reused, recycled, and natural materials. Their mission is to provide “eco-friendly living with the utmost style,” and to prove that “high style can come at a low impact to the environment.”

Their products are of high sophistication, like most products on the market serving the same purpose. For SMC student Nicole Pama, living in an apartment has its perks, but affording rent and living green does not come easy. “It’s difficult to be green sometimes while on a budget,” says Pama. “Most eco-friendly products cost more than regular ones.”

However, retailers like Target and Bed Bath and Beyond are now taking noticeable steps towards sustainability by selling an assortment of recycled and reused products at affordable prices. Buying used products instead of new ones are also beneficial to the environment, not to mention inexpensive. Salvation Army stores, flea markets, and yard sales are great places to buy second-hand products.

When it comes to decorating, plants are a simple way to spice up a living space. A few plants placed on tables or in corners can improve any room, no matter the color or style. “Having plants in your home is a great way to make a healthier environment,” says SMC Professor of design technology Sheila Cordova. “If you choose plants that are useful, then you’ve added to the bene-fits.”

Cordova suggests ordering from Organic Bouquet, which offers a selection of plants small enough to fit in most spaces while offering added benefits. Medicinal aloe vera, and culinary ro-semary and thyme are good examples of plants that are good for more than just decoration. To save even more money, many plants can be grown from seed.

As far as painting goes, Home Depot carries a brand called Yolo that contains no volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. VOCs are noxious fumes emitted by conventional paints that pollute and remain in the air for months, potentially leading to respiratory problems.

Another way to transform your home into an environment as friendly as possible is through DIY projects. Instead of buying from a store, decorations can be made at home with natural and compostable materials - like leaves, rocks and seashells.

Those favoring a nautical look can try placing a bowl filled with seashells and sand on any plain surface, such as a dresser, nightstand, mantle, or table. Seashells can also be arranged on walls for a decorative effect.

For a more rustic feel, substituting seashells with rocks and pebbles can produce an effect that is just as graceful.

For additional style, organic non-toxic candles can be used to complement any room design. They also make a room smell fresh without releasing harmful chemicals and toxins like those found in air fresheners and conventional candles. Potpourri can also be used to provide a gentle natural fragrance as it is a mix-ture of dried and naturally sweet smelling plant materials.

Another way to go green while designing your home interior is by always buying products made from recycled materials and thinking twice before throwing away unwanted items, in case they need to be reused. With some effort, green décor can have the same effects as conventional room designs and are pos-sible to afford on a college budget.

Visit for some more helpful tips on becoming green.