We are gonna be taking a bit of a foray into sustainable materials. C’mon, let’s go, it might be fun!
When people say something is sustainable, we usually expect them to be carbon neutral or at least something close. The reality however is not quite that. These days it is very hard to have any ethical consummation of anything new.
People want new things we understand that it is always nice to spruce up. But ultimately the most sustainable thing you can ever do is buy second-hand. There are so many benefits to doing this too. Second-hand furniture is often great quality and priced so much cheaper than the new stuff.
We are going to explore some materials that are truly sustainable, be it reusing by products of other processes or reusing other materials.
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Sustainable Materials for Furniture
Here we will learn about some sustainable materials. As well as Concrete alternatives and building materials. Learn about them here. Including things such as:
- Reusing existing materials such as recycling bottles
- Reusing Plastic crates
Although we dislike admitting it, generally speaking, wood & MDF furniture is quite unsustainable.
Your softwood is at the lowest spectrum of that, yes, but hardwood is so unsustainable. I would even recommend that people should stop buying it in 2020 when the earth is in the most critical condition it has ever been. What you also have to remember is that some governments are more concerned with wealth than their planet and see their land as an infinite resource. This is not the case as we know.
I would also invite you to apply your own knowledge and be critical even of these schemes, such as Indonesian legal wood. Indonesia has lush beautiful rainforests, yes, but Borneo island is being deforested at such alarming rates it is having a harrowing effect on its biodiversity.
Animals are being forced into dwindling spaces, and there is then a fight for resources.
In this article, I will present arguments for ditching the stuff you use today with new modern alternatives that will revolutionize the way you build and construct things. But possibly also the way you view the world and its fragile resources.
Non Sustainable Materials
All hardwood is a non-sustainable resource.
Concrete – for every ton of concrete created, 8 tonnes of carbon are released into the air. I find this to be mind boggling that we do not question using so much concrete in daily lives, so much so it is the second most used thing in the world to water. I do not mean to spread panic but just think about the next time when you want to buy that hardwood table.
Do I really need it? Can I find an antique one that looks better and is a better price?
The answer is yes.
I will give you some examples of wood you should not be buying, even if it says it is sustainable.
- Bois Dentelle
- African Blackwood
- Monkey Puzzle
- Burmese Rosewood
- Ceylon Ebony – Basically all ebony is critically endangered. Ebony is an interesting wood. The tree itself is quite small and very slow-growing. Because of this, you need a lot of it to build anything substantial. Many this wood are endangered such as Madagascan Ebony, and Gaboon Ebony.
However, there are ways to use wood ash in the garden.
Types of Softwood
These are all evergreen fast-growing trees that are generally light in color. The benefits of softwood are that it is cheap and easy to use. Besides this, it’s also very lightweight and easy to find.
Identifying wood types pictures
This is possible, it is also hard to find certain types of pictures of the wood. As some of these are identified as being endangered.
Sustainable materials for products
- TimberCrete – a great garden and indoor building material. Find out more in my other article about this substance
- Ferrock – another great building material and an alternative to concrete. Find about this in more detail in my next article.
- You may even think that pine is sustainable. While it generally is if you buy it from certified farms it is. There are also species of pine that are conservation dependent to keep their species alive. Such as this Huon pine (Lagarostrobus) this Australasian growing pine was largely destroyed when white people colonized Tasmania and Australia.
- Beeswax – Beeswax is another great one. Instead of buying the choking chemicals of a Yankee candle, come away from that and think about the warming smell of fresh honey in the home. These are completely natural and it is not the same as burning off chemicals in your house. Beeswax is a byproduct of the honey industry.
- Bamboo – this is the fastest growing plant, and it is strong too. There is no wonder why it is used worldwide for dwellings and more. This is one of the more sustainable building materials in India.
Sustainable materials for interiors
- For interiors, it is a little bit different.
- Try and get yourself low VOC chalk-based paints, as well as using less hardwood for your flooring.
- Try and use what is already there to avoid wastage.
- Think about buying second hand. If you really cannot do this, think about buying directly from the people that make things.
- If you want a blanket – do not get a mass-produced one. Maybe buy a hand-harvested woolen blanket you can be sure of the ethics of it. Or perhaps even better, you could harvest some hemp and create one yourself. I do not mean to be going back to basics here, but sustainable materials do not just appear nor are they that cheap or necessarily easy to make or work with. Let me tell you though the satisfaction level is off the charts if you make something by hand. Try it!
And get back to us with your findings.