James Treble is an ambassador for Planet Ark and firmly believes in sensible purchasing, recycling and creative re-purposing. James has more than 25 years of experience in the building industry, real estate and interior design arena. His knowledge and experience in adding value to homes, through clever design & styling, is now published online (InteriorDesignForProfit.com.au) for all to learn and benefit from.
Most parents are time poor. What is the easiest makeover they can do for their home to spruce it up?
De-clutter! That is the first and easiest way to give your place an overnight makeover. It is quite amazing to see how many things we tend to accumulate and make room for in our homes. Especially when parenting there are so many objects that we find hard to let go, like children’s clothes, toys and furniture. Even when the children have outgrown them. I know the feeling. Indeed, even though my children are both taller than me, I still have the little chairs they used to sit on at a very small table, which now live in my studio. “Only hang on to what is necessary or really beautiful to you…” somebody famous said that long time ago; they probably have a very clutter-free home indeed!
Which colours would best suit homes with kids, and which ones should be avoided?
Calming colours should be considered, especially for children’s bedrooms, to sooth their mood and help their rest. To avoid stereotyping I suggest staying away from the baby blues and girly pinks, using instead greens and yellows, which are also gender neutral and work well for shared bedrooms. However neutral colours for the walls could be better, which allow the room to be updated for a growing child simply by changing cushions, artworks and toys to suit the new phase your child is moving into. Not everyone is a fan of a feature wall, but in a child’s bedroom, this can allow an easy transformation from child hues to teen’s, to university aged kids, who can’t afford to move out quite yet, as that one wall can easily be repainted in a day and transform the room.
Tell us about your work with Planet Ark.
I am very proud of what Planet Ark does for our environment. It’s about education, and informing people as the first step in making a difference. We should especially empower our children with the right knowledge, as it is their world we are talking about; educating in interesting and interactive ways allows us all to get environmental messages, without any heavy preaching! As an ambassador, I participate in community events like Plant A Tree Day and the Make It Wood campaign, and I am heavily involved in Recycling Week (Nov 13th -19th). I also lend my professional image to their advertising on radio and television, where my profile can help spread the environmental word a little bit further. Planet Ark consists of a very committed group of people and I really enjoy working with them and feeling that I too, can have a part in making this world a better place.
What kind of practical things can families do for their homes to make them more sustainable?
- Choose light colours for your walls as the rooms will be brighter and you won’t need to turn the lights on too early.
- Use a mix of overhead lighting combined with floor and table lamps, which cost far less to run, and help create mood within the home.
- Surround yourself only with furniture and objects that have a meaning to you and your family and don’t buy cheap items that will damage quickly and be thrown away, ending up on the footpath and ultimately in landfill.
- Where possible always opt for sustainable materials that can be re-used or recycled.
- Finally, as it’s going to be hot soon, to save both money and the ecosystem, I advise to add and use ceiling fans. They cost a fraction of the air-conditioning’s running costs and provide a cool holiday resort feel at home. For asthmatics like myself, fans can be running on low during hot summer nights and help you breathe without the stuffy feeling of an air-conditioned room.
What about who are renting? What can they do to be more eco-friendly?
Moving home can often be seen as an excuse for purchasing cheap items which we can soon get rid of. While quality pieces may cost a little more they will last longer and save you money in the long run. Also, a small worm farm is a great way to get rid of food scraps, whilst providing you with nutrient-rich worm juice for the garden or the plants in a balcony. Lush green plants provide you with vital energy and a great place to sit with the family. Welcoming nature in the home makes us feel better in general, having a positive effect on our mental well-being.