We all want a living space that we're proud to show off. But in many cases, home furnishings can leave a sizable footprint on the planet. To give you a few low-impact ideas for your eco pad, Earth911 rounded up the coolest, craziest and most innovative design solutions that came across our desks last year. Browse our treasure trove of eye candy, and snag some ideas for cutting waste without sacrificing style.
1. Recycled Glass Countertops
Founded by Flint, Mich. native Tim Whaley,Glass Recycled specializes in gorgeous designs made from glass that was once destined for the landfill.
“The art of traditional terrazzo is difficult, costly and not very friendly to the environment,” the company said on its Website. “But with our techniques, we’re ‘upcycling’ glass that’s headed to landfills. In other words, we’re turning ‘trash glass’ into useful products.”
The Dallas-based company mixes crushed post-consumer and industrial glass with epoxy resin to form stunning terrazzo designs for countertops, flooring and landscaping.
Head to Glass Recycled for price lists, color choices and specifications. To peep more photos, check out the full story on Glass Recycled here at Earth911.
2. NewspaperWood Cabinet
Vij5, a Dutch design label founded by young entrepreneurs Arjan van Raadshooven and Anieke Branderhorst, have been making headlines for an innovative line of furniture and home decor items made from recycled newspaper.
The material – appropriately dubbedNewspaperWood by designer Mieke Meijer – is made up of stacks of compressed newspaper that are formed into logs, which can be cut, milled, sanded and generally treated like any other type of wood.
This unique cabinet from designer Breg Hanssen emphasizes the indeterminable but distinct color of the NewspaperWood material by using contrasting hues. Within the rigid frame, newspaper planks act like real wood.
To see more creative NewspaperWood designs, check out the full story.
3. Upcycled Pendant Lamps
These chic and modern pendant lights from South Florida artist Valenino Llegada feature eye-catching textures and color variations. But perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Llegada’s lamps is what they're made from - recycled fire extinguishers.
To create his designs, the artist recovers empty fire extinguishers discarded as scrap metal. Cut in half, the canisters yield two types of hanging fixtures – flat-topped and domed.
The lovely lamps, which vary from shiny chrome finishes to brilliant colors, are priced starting at $70 on Llegada’s website.
For an even closer look, head to the full story.
4. Flooring Made from Vintage Leather Belts
Looking to add a touch of vintage to your home? Skip the pricey antique shops and opt for some fab flooring that your friends will have to see to believe.
TING London, a U.K.-based upcycling manufacturer that also makes eclectichandbags and furniture from old seat belts, is selling bespoke flooring made from 100 percent recycled leather belts for an old-school-meets-new-school look that's sure to spice up any home.
The best part about these chic leather tiles? When you're finished with them, just give TING a call, and they'll recycle them for you!
The manufacturer will recycle belts from your flooring to make new tiles or even create another product for your home. Contact the company for pricing and delivery details, and scroll through to the next slide for an even closer look.
Belts are carefully hand-selected from local sources, according to the company - which has an assembly team in London for European distribution and in Los Angeles for sales in the states. Each tile is designed in-house, ensuring no two are exactly alike.
Available by the square foot, the tiles are also suitable for table and bar tops, walls and feature areas, as well as floors.
For more photos and information, check out the full story.
5. Golden Gate Coffee Table
One Sunday afternoon in 1994, San Francisco native Richard Bulan saw a news story on a local television station about the fate of a pile of steel removed from the Golden Gate Bridge during a pedestrian handrail replacement a year earlier.
After securing a 12-foot section of the famous steel to make a headboard and a few other items for himself, the designer realized he may have a hit on his hands and the Golden Gate Bridge Furniture Co. was born.
Now based in Pacifica, Calif., just south of San Francisco, the company offers limited-edition, one-of-a-kind furniture designs made from the historic handrail.
Each design, including this modern coffee table, is hand-crafted by a Bay Area artisan from genuine Golden Gate Bridge steel.
Head to the full story to catch a glimpse of the whole collection.
6. Alternative Tiger Rug
This may look like a tiger rug at first glance, but take a closer look and you'll notice the grain of the unique pelt is made from something even more curious - cigarettes.
Chinese contemporary artist Xu Bing has been fascinated by the tobacco industry for more than 10 years. Bing, who was born in the Zhejiang province in 1955, first began adding cigarette pieces to his Tobacco Project series in 2000.
This awe-inpsiring "tiger skin" rug, now on display at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Conn., is made from 500,000 cigarettes and weighs in at about 440 pounds. Talk about head-scratching reuse!
For an even closer look at Bing's rug installations, along with more innovative pieces from his collection, check out the full story.
7. Shipping Crate Flooring
With the popularity of hardwood floors on the rise, Viridian Wood wants to offer consumers products that are more environmentally responsible than traditional hardwood flooring made of virgin lumber.
The Portland-based company makes flooring, decking, counters and other architectural products using wood reclaimed from shipping crates, pallets and scrap lumber, discarded at local docks.
Contact the company for pricing and specification details. To check out even more stunning photos of these unique floors, head to the full story.
8. Milk Jug Adirondak Chairs
Lounge-worthy and always chic, the trendy Adirondack chair is a common sight at posh ski resorts and swanky wine country destinations.
Bring a touch of luxe living to your own backyard - without leaving a heavy footprint on the planet - with a pair of eco-friendly Adirondacks from Minnesota-based furniture maker Loll Designs.
In addition to being seriously stylish, each piece of Loll Designs furniture is made from 100 percent recycled milk jugs.
Looking for more ways to add some eco-friendly style your outdoor living space?Check out our slideshow featuring loads of recycled backyard decor that you just have to see.
9. NYC Walk Sign Lights
If you've been missing the classic "Walk, Don't Walk" signs of old-school New York City, you're in luck. You can now own one of the iconic signs and use it to light your home.
UK-based lamp manufacturer Felix Lighting Specialists saw potential in the discarded signs - which first hit the streets of NYC in 1952 and were phased out in favor of newer LED models - and transformed them into hip household lighting.
The original signs have been fitted with new circuitry, allowing the "Walk" and "Don't Walk" portions of the sign to illuminate at timed intervals. Irony of ironies, these Big Apple artifacts are fitted with U.K. plugs. So, plan on purchasing an adapter for use in the states.
For more information, check out the full story.
10. Wine Barrel Ice Chest
This one-of-a-kind cooler from Oak Barrel Company keeps beverages cold while keeping reusable wine barrels out of the landfill.
Each ice box is made from a reinforced, lined oak barrel that is both water tight and durable.
The cooler boasts a hinge-supported lid for convenient access to beverages and features a drain spout so you can easily empty the barrel of water.
To see even more cool reuses for recycled wine barrels, check out the full storyfeaturing wine barrel decor you're sure to love.
11. Bamboo Loungers
Antoine Fritsch and Vivien Durisotti, the creative minds behind the innovative design agency Fritsch-Durisotti, were always inspired by natural materials.
Last summer, the Parisian design duo unveiled their most recent collection, "Natural fiber by Fritsch-Durisotti," at theSuperstudio Più furniture trade fair in Milan.
Made from organic fibers, the quirky pieces marry design, art and function and prove that nature is truly the best medium.
As part of the BEE collection, created in partnership with the designers at TurriniBY, these stylish chaise loungers feature clean lines of natural bamboo and rattan for a unique look.
To see the whole collection, head to the full story here at Earth911.