Many home owners are starting to become more aware of how and where the materials in their home are sourced, and want to invest in greener, more sustainable textiles, flooring, and home décor.
Finding sustainably sourced items that suit your style and budget is easier than you might think. There are dozens of choices—from flooring to mattresses, bedding, and curtains—that, thanks to scientific and industrial advancements, are nearly the same price as more traditional options.
Here are five top choices for sustainable building and home décor materials to purchase when you want to reduce your carbon footprint and make your home more eco-friendly.
Bamboo is one of the most versatile sustainable materials available to homeowners, and also one of the most affordable. Its water resistance and durability make it a natural choice for flooring, since it will not stain or become damaged like many hardwoods when exposed to moisture or everyday friction. Bamboo is friendlier for the environment than hardwoods, since it grows extremely quickly and can be harvested frequently and with less impact.
Bamboo is also naturally anti-bacterial, which makes it an ideal fiber for making bedding and mattresses. Make sure to purchase only products labeled as 100 percent bamboo. Rayon made from bamboo has much more of an environmental impact, due to the fact that it is manufactured using carbon disulfide, which also strips the bamboo of its natural antibacterial qualities.
Cork is a buoyant, nearly impenetrable wood product made from the bark of the cork oak. Because the tree is not cut down during harvest and can continue to grow for up to 300 years, cork is very friendly for the environment and has gained popularity as a sustainable construction and home décor material.
Cork is used to make everything from bricks to doormats and bathroom flooring. Corkboard is also a great alternative to petrochemical-based insulation products, as it is non-allergenic, fire-retardant, and cannot be penetrated by water or air. Try recycling old wine stoppers to make DIY cork crafts and décor.
Recycled Polyester, commonly referred to as rPET, is made from recycled plastics and unusable or worn out polyester fabrics. It’s a preferred material for environmentalists because it helps cut down on the demand for virgin polyester manufacturing, and the waste and byproducts associated with the industry. Though it’s a recycled material, its quality is comparable to virgin polyester, so it can be used to make the same products. The process of recycling polyester uses 33-53 percent less energy than it would to make virgin polyester.
Recycled polyester can be used to make curtains, slipcovers, bedding, rugs, and many other home décor staples.
Hemp has been called a wonder fiber, and is known for being a carbon-negative alternative to cotton. It demands half as much land and water to grow as cotton, and the entire plant can be used — even the roots, which are used to make insulation. The hemp plant itself is a dream for sustainable farmers, as it grows easily in most climates and flourishes without the use of pesticides.
Hemcrete, hemp concrete, is a popular building material in Europe and has recently been adopted to make entire homes in the United States. Hemp can also be used to make textiles, carpet, rope, block and panel insulation, and even imitation hardwood flooring.
Wild Peace Silk
In traditional silk manufacturing, the moth is not allowed to leave its cocoon and is killed during the harvesting process. Wild peace silk is harvested after the silk moth has left its cocoon. It is a renewable textile, and is not treated with chemicals, making it a more sustainable choice for home décor.
Peace silk is a strong, beautiful fiber with slightly less sheen than traditional silk and small “nubs” that give the fabric texture. It can be used to make curtains, bedding, pillows, and other decorative items. Opt for wild silks labeled as “un-dyed” and “unbleached” to ensure that the silk has not been processed with chemicals.
Living a green lifestyle starts with simple choices like what materials you choose to incorporate when remodeling your home, or even just buying new accents to spruce up your existing home decor. Choose materials that are sustainably sourced, minimally processed, recycled, or use as little energy as possible to manufacture. These green materials are a great place to start, but there are dozens of sustainable options at affordable prices on the market.
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