One of the major way we’ve impacted and keep on impacting the planet is building out.
In human history we’ve gone from huts to log buildings to brick houses, but we’ve always managed to build a space that just enough for the person/family to fulfill their need of roof over their heads. With the exception for the high royalty and wealthy few, all the living spaces were always small making impact on the planet minimal.
But, as the number of humans on Earth expanded with an incredible speed and the financial means become available to many, we began to build a lot and in bigger sizes.
When before, a family of 4 would live in a 2 bedroom house (often 1 bedroom) about 600 sq ft in size, today we have 2 people occupying 3 bedroom house of 1800 sq ft. And if the wasn’t enough, the trend of MacMansions pushed this trend to the top.
So, can we do? The number of population is not getting smaller any time soon, so we have to build to accommodate it.
New trends in living arrangements, such as tiny houses, moving back with parents, building smaller structures in the backyards, renting out garages and guest houses, building smaller properties all making a difference in our impact and our mindset when it comes to housing.
We can take it one step further by using green, recycled materials when building these structures thus reducing the number of additional trees being cut down, the pollution or trash produced by fabrication of building materials, transportation costs, etc.
To save you time, we did a research on top green building materials available and hope that you’ll consider them in your next project.
Made entirely from recycled materials
- NewspaperWood – created by rolling up paper and solvent-free glue, it’s then sealed so it’s waterproof and flame-retardant
- Nappy Roofing – created from nappies and sanitary products by extracting polymers and creating roofing tiles
- Recy Blocks – made from old plastic bags that are heat molded and can be use to create non-load bearing divider walls
- Plasphalt – made up of grains of plastic from unsorted plastic waste, used instead of sand and gravel that are usually used in asphalt production. It has shown to handle the weather better than traditional asphalt
- Second Use – great place to find anything from ducting fans to pedestal sinks to granite counter tops collected from constructions sites
- Earthwise Architectural Salvage is a warehouse of salvaged goodies. They also accepts custom requests like stained glass, etc
- Ballard Reuse culls reusable fixtures and raw materials from construction projects and resells them to the public in an effort to “keep them from landfill”
- Urban Reclamations sources local recyclables and turns them into everything from boardroom tables to garden benches.
- Los Angeles area
- TRP – by de-constructing (instead of demolishing) a building, TRP is able to salvage up to 80 percent of the materials and channel them back into the marketplace through donations and sales at its network of retail outlets
- Reclaimed Wood Products – Southern California’s largest selection of RECLAIMED LUMBER
- Freeway Building Materials specializes in buying and selling building materials, fixtures and rare objects built before 1960
- New York area
- Big Reuse is New York City’s only non-profit retail outlet for salvaged and surplus building materials
- Demolition Depot is a source of vintage plumbing fixtures, doors, windows, shutters, railings, gates, grills, mantels, stone and terracotta pieces
- Chicago area
- The Rebuilding Exchange creates a market for reclaimed building materials by diverting materials from landfills and making them accessible for reuse through the retail warehouse
- Urban Remains carries a little bit of everything–hardware, stonework, millwork, glass, lighting, and a large collection of vintage industrial and medical furniture
There are many more companies and materials than this that try to make the smallest impact on Earth and stop the materials entering the landfill.
So, next time you are build, be mindful of your impact and select the materials wisely.