Sustaining a healthy environment starts in the home. There are subtle ways to make a difference, like cutting back on energy usage and avoiding plastic products. And there are more immediately significant ways to make a difference, like implementing some of the biodegradable materials below into future design plans.
Let’s take a look at information on six different eco-friendly materials with the potential to ease your carbon footprint, along with some of their applications. If you’re mulling over a hypothetical change or simply curious about sustainability, you should find something that catches your eye.
1. Sheep’s Wool
You might hesitate to consider sheep’s wool as a building material in your home, but it provides an excellent alternative to fiberglass insulation. Free from the chemicals associated with polyurethane spray foam, sheep’s wool is capable of the same functions of conventional insulators and excels in its category.
Unlike other natural insulators like straw and cotton, sheep’s wool lasts far longer, and it’s less taxing on a farmer to harvest and collect. Though it’s more expensive than other materials in its class, sheep’s wool comes with advantages that may justify the price point for conservationists with money to spare.
Cork is a biodegradable building material with unique properties, and it’s distinct from other items we’ve listed. Though cork is technically a kind of bark, manufacturers can strip it from a living tree without compromising the tree’s health. The tree will continue producing cork for later harvests, happy and unharmed.
The material has a diverse range of special qualities with a variety of applications. If you need noise or shock absorption, cork provides both. If you need something impermeable that won’t absorb water or rot, cork is your best choice. There’s no shortage of possibilities when incorporating it.
Manufacturers have found yet another use for the versatile hemp plant. Binding its fibers with lime, they create lightweight building materials that can serve as an eco-friendly replacement to heavy concrete blocks. Due to the light weight of the hempcrete, it requires significantly less energy to transport, reducing carbon emissions.
This material has incredible potential for use in future building projects. With the fast-growing nature of hemp, operations can produce high quantities of the resource to meet the demands of construction companies. It’s an attractive choice for homeowners who want to lessen their impact.
According to experts in sustainability, bamboo ranks among the top renewable building materials available today. It’s extremely durable, with greater compressive strength than concrete or brick. Like hempcrete, its meager weight allows for easy transportation from the manufacturer to the construction site.
Bamboo’s rapid rate of growth allows for a perpetual supply of the material, with some species reaching three feet in a single day. More than that, there isn’t a need to replant bamboo after every harvest, as it can spread on its own. This quality alleviates considerable pressure on a manufacturer.
With a classic aesthetic that beautifies almost any living space, wood is one biodegradable building material that has earned its good reputation. It’s functional both inside and outside your home, and you can find a place for it almost anywhere. Wood roofing is particularly effective in reducing your carbon footprint.
Sustainable roofing materials like wood can help homeowners lower their energy costs by up to 30 percent. After the shingles have served their purpose, they’re completely recyclable, and you can chip them for mulch if you’d like. Opting for wood instead of the standard asphalt can significantly reduce the amount of waste your home produces over time.
Like something out of science fiction, manufacturers have devised a method through which they can mold the root structure of fungi and mushrooms. They encourage this root structure — known as mycelium — to encompass a composite of other natural materials to form biodegradable building components.
Manufacturers can shift the air-dried mycelium to almost any shape, meeting the demands of a design. While this building material hasn’t seen widespread adoption as of yet, it’s an eco-friendly alternative homeowners might consider in the future. As of now, it’s an impressive innovation that shows a lot of promise.
Put Your Best Foot Forward
Whether you consider bamboo an attractive option, want to explore the different possibilities of wood or hope to look a little deeper into the curious properties of cork, you’ll find a biodegradable building material that can ease your impact on the environment. As technology continues to progress, even fungus offers a solution.
Through the integration of the materials above, you’re one step closer to reducing your carbon footprint.
Author Bio: Holly Welles runs her own blog, The Estate Update, where she posts weekly updates on design, gardening and eco-friendly fixes. Holly believes anyone can learn to make the most of their space, which is why she writes about home improvement all over the web.