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Do you want to take closet organization one step further and make your storage space more environmentally friendly? You may think that you'll have to pay more for some of the eco-friendly finishes and alternatives, but you could be wrong. It may take a little shopping around to find a custom closet company that offers the sustainable materials that you want at the price that you like, but they are out there. Some of the items you can simply buy yourself and use them however you want. This is a guide to help you determine how green you can go when building or installing an eco-friendly closet system.

1) When you get your closet emptied out and gutted, you may want to paint it. Paints that are commonly used are filled with chemicals that can be damaging to our health. These chemicals are volatile and exist as a gas that is emitted from the walls. The chemicals that you want to avoid are referred to as volatile organic compounds, or "VOCs". You should be able to find low VOC or VOC free paints at your local hardware store. Do your research before you go to determine which brands perform best. Some all natural paints still have high VOCs and some low VOC or VOC free paints can take a really long time to dry or they are not to be used in damp areas, like bathrooms and kitchens.

2) Consider taking up the flooring at this time. You will need to wear a good half-mask respirator to avoid risk of exposure to toxic chemical emissions and old dust. Then you can consider which type of flooring meets your needs and has the least impact on your air quality and the environment. Options include bamboo, natural fiber or recycled carpet, linoleum flooring (not vinyl), rubber flooring or cork flooring. All have their good points, it's more about personal taste and how much you've budgeted for.

3) Now your focus is on green building materials. If possible, reuse products that are already built. Sometimes it can be cheaper and easier on the environment if you can install existing shelves and reuse dresser drawers to build your closet system. Salvaging fixtures, lumber, and hardware is cheaper and uses less energy than using recycled products. If you use new wood, look for the FSC stamp. This stamp is from the Forest Stewardship Council and certifies that the wood comes from well managed forests and if it is particle board, ensures that no formaldehyde binders were used in processing. Another option is to use sustainable resource materials, like bamboo. Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on Earth and supports economies all over the world.

4) When you're finished, outfit your closet with eco-friendly hangers, like bamboo hangers or other recycled materials. With a tensile strength similar to steel, bamboo makes a nice and sturdy wood hanger that is strong enough to be used as a coat hanger, supporting tremendous weight, while adding style and functionality to your closet.

About the Author: Joe Granville is on the staff of Only Hangers, a leading online resource for wood coat hangers. For more information, please visit