Monday, March 7th, 2011
Photo courtesy Havencraft
As homes become more and more environmentally friendly, builders and décor specialists are finding new ways to provide green technologies and sustainable living without sacrificing style. Here are a few ways homes and decorating are becoming greener.
A popular flooring option these days is reclaimed barnwood. As historic buildings age and are deconstructed, the materials can be recycled into lumber for flooring. Done right, they look gorgeous, and they spare quite a few young trees from being cut down.
Lots of other materials can be recycled and reused in building projects. The Building Materials Reuse Association exists to oversee proper building deconstruction so that the materials can be recovered and reused in future projects. The idea is to reduce consumption and the landfill space used by building materials by putting deconstructed homes to good use.
Besides recycling building materials, home builders are striving to use natural, non-toxic and sustainable building materials wherever possible, such as rock, bamboo and sustainably harvested woods. Energy efficiency is another goal of this building ethic, and many natural materials offer the bonus of naturally helping regulate temperatures.
This piece from Discovery.com showcases ten natural building materials, including rock, bamboo, cordwood (lengths of lumber often left over from lumber projects, which might otherwise go to waste) and adobe. Bamboo flooring is catching on in the United States particularly quickly, and while other natural materials may not be as trendy, they serve up many benefits, including lower utility bills and the opportunity to use materials that might otherwise go in a landfill.
Secondhand and Handmade Treasures
Apart from the actual construction of the home, the decorative elements inside are also getting greener these days. The word “upcycled” has come into popular use and refers to an item that’s finding new life as something else. With a little hand crafting, everyday items that might otherwise simply be thrown away can become anything—jewelry, kitchen décor, window treatments. Just spend a little time on Etsy.com to find an abundance of beautiful items that used to be something else. And when it comes to larger home furnishings, handmade and artisan products are often responsibly made with sustainable materials. Likewise, thrifted, vintage or antique items are also in high demand, with the environmental benefit of saving furniture and décor items from the garbage dump.
It’s getting easier and easier to build and decorate a home sustainably. With both form and function, eco-friendly products and materials can lower energy costs, protect the earth’s resources and look beautiful.
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