I'm thrilled we have an official day on which we pause and think about how to protect our planet. But why not celebrate Earth Day every single day by going green in your decorating? Here are some simple ways to get started. Mary Carol Garrity, Scripps Howard News Service
Showcase nature: I let nature inspire me when decorating. One of my new passions it to use elements like fallen branches and seasonal flowers, vines and berries in my displays throughout my home, whether in vases, over my doorways or twisted in my chandeliers.
You, too, can showcase nature in your home. Place a fallen bird's nest on a silver tray or cake plate, and then cover it with a glass cloche. Fill apothecary jars with pinecones, seashells and stones. Stack fresh fruit in an English footbath or wooden dough bowl and use it as a simple centerpiece for your dining room table.
Use natural, sustainable, reclaimed materials: One of the reasons I love bamboo furniture, willow baskets and linen fabrics so much is because they not only add amazing style to a home, they are also sustainable products. When redoing a room, ask yourself what accents you can add that won't harm our planet. Opt for products made from sustainable materials. How about bamboo shades or a sisal area rug? Whenever you can, use reclaimed and recycled products in home decor.
Repurpose existing pieces: If you're on the hunt for furnishings, start your shopping expedition in your own home. You'll be amazed by how easy and effective it is to repurpose furniture you already own, either by moving pieces to new spaces or giving them a facelift so they look brand new.
Reupholster furnishings that are well made and in good condition. When you refurbish your furniture, you can do a lot more than just change the fabric — you can also change the height of the arms, add or remove a skirt, alter the number of seat cushions and get new slipcovers for accent pillows.
It's also fun and easy to transform outdated wooden furniture, like bookcases, china hutches and TV/computer armoires, using some paint and your imagination. If the built-in bookcases in your home are dated, revolutionize them with a coat of paint, new doors and hardware. Try painting the exterior of a bookcase white and the interior black. Or use fabric or wallpaper to add pop to the back panels of a bookcase.
Instead of trashing that old TV/computer armoire you no longer need, turn it into something useful. How about a minibar, a craft space or locker for your kids' school gear and sports equipment?
Mary Carol Garrity is the proprietor of three home-furnishings stores and is the author of several books on home decorating.