The past decade has seen a significant rise in the amount of people practicing reduce, reuse, recycle. With the help of scientists, celebrities, and caring people everywhere the green movement has truly begun to find the momentum it needs. People across the country, and the world, are finally recycling paper products, aluminum, glass, and cardboard as a matter of course. And yet, there’s more that can be done. We must continue to push the importance of green, making sure that we use recycled material wherever possible, and stay conscious of the need to reduce our carbon footprint.
One of the most overlooked ways to bring recycled material into the home is in the materials we use throughout the home, the very elements from which our house is crafted. Here are some materials you can use throughout the home that can greatly help keep your home and family green.
Glass is one of the better-known recyclable objects in the home. Nearly everyone who recycles other products recycles glass as well. What isn’t as well-known is the way recycled glass can be used throughout the home. Glass has astounding flexibility, and its secondary uses include:
- Home countertops
- Brick manufacture
- Ceramic sanitary products (toilets, showers, etc.)
- Water filtration systems
As you can see, there are a variety of uses and options for recycled glass throughout the home. However, by far the widest use of glass throughout the home is as an aggregate (basically when glass is ground down into small bits and pieces, which are no longer sharp), which can help subsidize concrete. Also, it’s used in flooring and is a key ingredient in some countertops. Glass aggregate is a marvelous way to reuse recycled product throughout the home.
Salvaged metal is becoming quite popular in the green construction movement. It’s not only environmentally green, but stylish as well. Between aluminum, copper and brass there are a variety of home materials that can make wide use of salvaged metal, including:
- Cabinet hardware
Wood is the most popular use of recycled material usable in home. Most often this comes in the form of salvaged lumber, which is reclaimed during demolitions. This lumber reclamation is admirable for a variety of reasons:
- The green movement – Recycled lumber means that fewer trees have to be cut down for new home construction. Furthermore, by using lumber we’ve already harnessed and crafted, less work has to be done and less energy is expended.
- History – By having even the very materials of your home come from antique sources, the home is lent a dignified and historic atmosphere.
- Rarity – Often reclaimed lumber is of a variety not used in today’s lumber market. This means that not only is the reclaimed lumber green, with a previous history, but it is also of an uncommon material.
- Reclaimed lumber is usable in the home for a variety of purposes, including flooring, siding, support beams, cabinets, etc. Essentially any place normal lumber or manufactured wood is used, reclaimed and recycled wood can take its place.
Recycled paper also has its role to play as a green material in the home. Countertops made from 100 percent recycled paper have become quite popular and are one of the best options for the truly environmentally conscious. Furthermore, they’re free of harsh chemicals including formaldehyde. This makes them health conscious not just for the environment, but for your family as well.
It is important to consider the sustainability of any materials you plan on using in the home. This can be the difference between a large and small carbon footprint, and should be a consideration of every environmentally conscious person building or updating their home. Two of the best know sustainable materials are cork and bamboo.
- Cork is harvested by removing the bark from a tree, leaving the tree alive and able to quickly reproduce more cork. This makes it one of the most sustainable forms of material.
- Bamboo is one of the fastest growing woods, able to reach maturity and harvesting age within six years. This is a world of difference from some of the rarer reclaimed lumber, which can take as long as 200 years to reach harvesting age. For this reason, bamboo has lately seen a meteoric rise in popularity, as more and more understand the need for sustainable, green, environmentally friendly practices.
Don’t forget that buying local makes a big environmental difference as well. Any time the building materials have to be shipped or transported their environmental footprints grow.
The importance of green, sustainable, recycled materials usable in home cannot be stated. Everyone should try and include green materials into any new construction or renovation. So, if you’re currently following the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle, make sure you also use recycled building materials. Because knowledge is power, and everyone needs to do as much as they can.
Author Bio: Edward Stuart is a home décor enthusiast and online publisher for Framed Art. He enjoys blogging about interior design, art, and home décor, along with sustainable, green practices.
Photo: Jeff Kubina