With the global climate crisis facing all of us in the coming years, finding the best way to lower our carbon impact is critical to our survival. That’s why more and more companies are working with sustainable building materials and finding that they’re just as robust as new materials. If you find the right materials provider, you could outfit your next project with mostly recycled materials.
Here are just a few that you should consider.
If you’re looking for a material to create more sustainable panels and flooring, cork is your best bet.
Think about all of the wine bottles that get opened on a daily basis. That’s a lot of cork that could be mined and used for flooring and panels. Rather than send everything to the landfill, cork companies are putting them to good use.
Taking old wine stoppers can making them into products is just one way that companies are using these materials. By taking consumer corks from drop-off locations at various wine and liquor stores, companies then sell the leftovers to the people making these materials.
There are gorgeous cork mosaic floors and panels being made in homes all across the country now.
If you’ve been recycling your newspapers for years, you might think that it all goes back into creating more recycled paper. Along with creating more paper, it also creates a new type of wood.
Newspapers that have been ground up into paper and made into wood allows that material to have a strong wood texture and structure. With the addition of wood and pressure, newspapers that are ground into very thin layers can be reconstituted.
There are only a few companies who are making this material now, but it’s picking up steam as more people are looking to lower their carbon footprint.
Recycled Glass Tile
If you’ve seen glass bricks or glass tile in homes before, you’ve probably noticed how lovely it can look. By painting the wall underneath, your glass tiles can be either handmade or factory-made.
This glass comes from the window industry or from other industrial processes. The glass often looks like sea glass and can bring a nice and sustainable look to your home.
If you’re looking at building materials, whether for the interior or exterior, you’ve probably heard of reclaimed wood. This is one of the best ways to get high-quality wood for lower prices. If you’re flexible on the size and shape, you can get beautiful pieces for furniture, countertops, or doors.
Reclaimed wood can be purchased inexpensively from buildings that are being demolished and area that have old factories.
Since older buildings were created with some of the oldest trees in the country, there are lots of great options out there. The wood that you find from reclaimed wood sellers is often dense, high-quality, and will last a lifetime.
As it turns out, most of the steel used in North America is at least partially recycled. Since around 70% of all the steel produced gets recycled, you can be sure that any steel you buy is going to contain partially recycled material. However, you can go all the way and find steel that’s 100% recycled.
It’s a great material because it can be made to last for a lifetime, is pest resistant, and has no toxic chemicals. Wood materials need to be treated with substances to make them last and those substances can lead to the creation of toxic waste.
Steel prefab homes are created by some companies to have more or less completely recycled materials. Recycled steel can be used as roofing, framing materials, or as structural elements inside your home. You can even use it for decorative elements.
Recycled Plastic Blocks
Believe it or not, plastic has the power to be compressed into building materials. Rather than having it sitting around polluting and clogging up our parks and waterways, companies are finding ways of making use of it.
Plastics can be made into modular blocks that can be arranged in all kinds of configurations. Building projects all over the world can now make high-quality weatherproof structure s with plastic.
They’re carbon-neutral and often produced in non-toxic facilities. Because they produce fewer greenhouse gasses than concrete, they’re an amazing way to build in a sustainable way.
Pavement, concrete, and asphalt are created in unsustainable ways that either produce toxins or require emissions to get to their ideal state. Porous pavement is a recent invention that creates high-quality pavement with recycled materials.
You can get a driveway, sidewalk, or pathway made out of stone aggregate and recycled glass rather than having asphalt poured. They can be made into a wide variety of colors to make your landscaping look even more unique.
The pavement is porous so that stormwater runoff doesn’t damage the material. Overall, water quality is improved when it doesn’t take pavement with it during a storm.
This low-impact material is great for all kinds of applications and fits in a wide variety of building contexts. Contrast it with concrete plaster for an interesting look to your home.
Sustainable Building Materials Also Save Money
In many cases, using sustainable building materials can be cheaper than using new virgin materials. These materials are often more robust than virgin materials because they’re made by compressing and manipulating recycled materials to the core.
Make sure you check out all of 2019’s construction trends before you start planning your next project.
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