5 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Something Green

Cheryl Terrace by Cheryl Terrace | September 28th, 2009 | 3 Comments
topic: Eco Decorating, Green Living


What exactly is green about green design? It’s a very complex term. In fact, it’s so complex that I’d prefer “Conscious, Healthy, Thoughtful, Mindful, Authentic, Integrity Driven Environmentally Responsible Design” … but what a mouthful!

When I create a room or make a house a home for a client, I always do my homework to ensure that I’m using products that have enduring value and stand up to as many of my holistic values as possible: natural, local, handmade, nontoxic, sustainable, fair trade, energy efficient, …. The green word list goes on an on — so it’s getting harder for people to decipher who and what is genuine.

So where do you begin?

Ask these 5 questions before buying décor, furnishings or fashions — or any product sold as “green”

  1. What are the products made of? Where and how were the materials procured?
  2. If made of wood, was it responsibly (and legally) harvested?
  3. How are the materials processed into finished goods?
  4. What is the environmental impact of making and using this product?
  5. What will happen to the product after it’s served its purpose?

By taking simple steps, we begin to make more and more healthy choices. These choices open our minds — and hearts — to far-reaching possibilities.

It’s a good thing to go green — just try and keep it authentic. So many companies large and small are ‘green’ (or greenwashed) … and that can make our choices even harder. Yet pre-eco-buzz, there were companies like Gaiam and my own company, Vital Design, that had walked the walk for a long time.

I started my firm in 1997, when not many people were interested in far-reaching environmental concepts. I struggled for years to explain how all of our collective lifestyle choices connect with the greater whole — both people and the planet. I believed then (and still believe) in always digging a little deeper. A product should be good for a person’s well-being and their home environment, great and small — so the word “green” really just isn’t big enough!


  1. is the comforter in the picture above green? If so, where did you get it from? My partner and I are always looking for green textiles and having a difficult time finding any with designs we appreciate aesthetically.

    Bo | September 30th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  2. thanks bo! Yes the bedding in the photo here is (We do not allow links in comments) organic cotton flannel bedding by Gaiam.

    there are now lots of great eco bedding options~ including Gaiam;) check out (We do not allow links in comments), and (We do not allow links in comments) for real eco luxury..

    cheryl | September 30th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  3. If one is looking to decorate “green,” one of the very best ways to do this and, as an added bonus, provide natural anti-biotic therapy, is to buy and use bamboo sheets. They can be found all over the internet and it’s a proven fact that they have innate anti-microbial characteristics that can be especially healthy. You really cannot get much greener than that, now.

    Gary | June 1st, 2010 | Comment Permalink

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