Eco-Friendly Materials

For the Greener Home

By choosing eco-friendly materials, you are not only helping the environment, but you are also making a sound investment into the longevity of your home.

Choosing eco-friendly building materials helps the environment and creates a sound investment into the longevity of your home.Choosing eco-friendly building materials helps the environment and creates a sound investment into the longevity of your home.

Across the planet, sustainability issues are on the rise. A fast-expanding and resource-hungry human population burns fossil-fuel at an ever-increasing rate. All unconscious actions we take now are adding to an acceleration of catastrophic global warming.

Beware of Off-Gassing

When 'volatile organic compounds' (VOCs) break down they form gasses — hence the term 'off-gassing'.When 'volatile organic compounds' (VOCs) break down they 'off-gassing'. Mattresses are the most common item in your home to contain VOCs. They toxic chemicals break apart from foam and adhesives used in the manufacturing process.

Chemical 'off-gassing' comes from certain unfriendly items and furniture in your home or house structure. Toxic decor with dangerous off-gassing is something people are increasingly aware of and avoiding it in your home is paramount to your health and that of your family. Where possible always use green, recyclable, eco-friendly materials. Truely eco-friendly means ethically sourced, sustainable and easily recycled.

12 Eco-friendly Materials to Put on Your Project Shopping List

1. Recycled Steel 

Utilise steel already in existence for structural use in a home. The reclaimed steel from six scrapped cars provides enough recycled steel to build a 2000 sq ft home. Recycling like this saves 75% of home-build energy costs. Steel is 100% recyclable and is probably the most recycled material in the world. All newly-made steel items manufactured contain up to 25% recycled steel. It is the most energy-efficient metal for the production of cans. It is the most effortless packaging in the world to recycle.

Steel is 100% recyclable and is probably the most recycled material in the world.Steel is 100% recyclable and is probably the most recycled material in the world.

2. Aluminium

Aluminium is a lightweight eco-friendly material that offers the construction industry an opportunity to design a high-performance structure that is safe, environmentally friendly, and energy-efficient. Like steel, aluminium has advantages in many applications. Once this use has reached its maximum potential, the aluminium can be reused and recycled. The best thing about aluminium is that it is 100% recyclable. During the recycling process, it retains all of its original properties. Even if the aluminium is melted and turned into another product, it will not lose any of its inherent properties.

Aluminium is a lightweight material that offers the construction industry an opportunity to design high-performance structures.Aluminium is a lightweight material that offers the construction industry an opportunity to design high-performance structures.

3. Bamboo

Bamboo is very sustainable because it multiplies quickly. While trees such as pine and cedar are suitable for reforesting, growing them can take years. In contrast, bamboo can be reforested much more promptly and grows throughout the world. Bamboo, like genuine wood, is a natural composite material with a high strength-to-weight ratio. This element is handy for building structures. You'll be surprised to know that bamboo has higher compressive durability than wood, concrete or brick and a tensile strength that resembles steel.

Bamboo is a relatively new material to the mass-market and is steadily increasing in popularity as a building material.Bamboo is a relatively new material to the mass-market and is steadily increasing in popularity as a building material.

4. Straw Bales

Most of us already know the fantastic insulating properties of straw. However, the surprising thing is that when placed in a bale form, they become super-linings. This characteristic makes straw bales great for walls, attics and ceilings as they contribute to cooler temperatures in the summer and warmer temperatures in the winter. The making of straw into bales also has little influence on the carbon footprint. Research shows that straw-bale construction is a very sustainable process and is significant in saving energy where heating and cooling is necessary.

Straw is easily harvested and replanted with minimum environmental impact. Straw bale construction is a very sustainable process.Straw is easily harvested and replanted with minimum environmental impact. Straw bale construction is a very sustainable process.

5. Precast Concrete

Concrete is a natural eco-friendly material and is easily recycled, making it the proper choice for eco-friendly homes. Precast concrete is even more eco-friendly than natural concrete created onsite. Precast concrete poured into pre-made moulds, (over steel bars or wires) cured and hardened, is swiftly shipped and installed into multiple structures. As a result, precast concrete achieves savings and automation of scale that onsite concrete cannot.

Precast concrete is poured and molded over rebar or wire and then cured offsite.Precast concrete is poured and molded over rebar or wire and then cured offsite.

6. Recycled or Reclaimed Wood

Wood waste from all sorts of building sites, including new builds and refurbishments, amounts to around 0.85mt per year. Wood is useful for pathways, coverings, mulches, compost, animal bedding or particle-board. Recycled wood has much less of an environmental impact than newly cut timber. Using wood to build homes is an ancient method, so there's always lots of wood around to reclaim too. Reclaimed wood is used in the framework of a home and also for floors, walls and exposed beams, not to mention eco-friendly furniture items

Wood can be reused, repurposed, recycled, or burned as bioenergy.Wood can be reused, repurposed, recycled, or burned as bioenergy.

7. Earth & Soil

Many different cultures throughout the centuries have used earth for building their homes and structures. An earth shelter is a house that uses entirely eco-friendly materials with earth and different soil types against the walls and roof. Sometimes the main construction is hidden underground. Houses built using soil, and locally sourced dirt are warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Earth-made homes are quite often found in China and parts of South America but are far less common in the United Kingdom and Europe.

In the last 30 years, earth-sheltered homes and earth construction has become increasingly popular.In the last 30 years, earth-sheltered homes and earth construction has become increasingly popular.

8. Plant-Based Polyurethane Rigid Foam

The plant-based rigid foam makes an excellent insulation material for construction purposes. Plant-based and bio-based foam is not to be confused with standard rigid foam which is not environmentally friendly and extremely toxic. What some people don't know is that rigid foam is a combination of kelp, hemp and bamboo. Because it is stiff nature, it makes an excellent insulation material and offers significant protection against mould and pests. It has super sound insulation and heat resistance qualities. It is good for many applications, including wind turbine blades, furniture and surfboards, bio-based rigid foam is trending-up.

Bio-based rigid foam is trending-up as an efficient eco-building material!Bio-based rigid foam, also known as plant-based polyurethane rigid foam is trending-up as an efficient eco-building material!

9. Mycelium (Fungus)

When it comes to building material options, you can't get much more natural than mycelium, which is the vegetative part of a fungus.  They are water and fire-resistant and combat against mould and wet-rot, making them an ideal eco building material for use in construction. But mycelium doesn't just show potential in the construction industry. 'Scientific American' reported in July 2019 on the potential applications for mycelium in food production and the advancement of medical technologies.

Mycelium brick manufacturing combines wonderful mushrooms with organic waste.Mycelium brick and home decor manufacturing combines wonderful mushrooms with organic waste.

10. Cork

Moisture resistant, cork offers excellent sound insulation. It is the primary source of wine bottle stoppers, flooring products and makes up the core of cricket balls. Cork is a super option for flooring or even subflooring as a replacement to plywood. Cork oaks are native to the Western regions of the Mediterranean and North Africa. The transport costs make the carbon footprint slightly more than for locally sourced material, (unless you live in those parts of the world). However, local farming of cork oaks has increased as homeowners and builders pursue different material options as demand grows.

Cork comes from the tree, Quercus suber, commonly called the cork oak and is physically flexible and very durable.Cork comes from the tree, Quercus suber, commonly called the cork oak and is physically flexible and very durable.

11. Hemp

Yes! You read that right. Hempcrete or 'hemp-lime' is biocomposite material, a mixture of hemp hurds and lime, sand, or volcanic ash used as a material for construction and insulation. Hemp lacks the brittleness of concrete and doesn't need extra elements such as expansion joints to make it structurally sound, so it makes it super-easy and straightforward to manage. The result is a lightweight insulating material ideal for most climates as it combines insulation against the cold and a thermal layer to keep out the heat.

Hemp is sold and marketed using names like Hempcrete, Canobiote, Canosmose and Isochanvre.Hemp is sold and marketed using names like Hempcrete, Canobiote, Canosmose and Isochanvre.

12. Kapok - Capok

The seeds from the Kapok tree produce the perfect filling for vegan sofa cushions.The seeds from the Kapok tree produce the perfect filling for vegan sofa cushions.

Kapok fibre is one of the natural cellulosic fibres which grow on the kapok plant. It has a hollow body and a sealed tail, which are desirable features of candidates for functional textiles of this nature. However, the low volume weight of kapok is (specific density 0.29g/cm3), and the short length and smooth surface of the fibres, causing poor inter-fibre cohesion, have prevented kapok from being processed by modern spinning machines.

Kapok is silky fibres that clothe the seeds of the ceiba tree of the family Bombacaseae. Kapok fibres have rich oiliness and do not have high strength and, therefore, cannot be spun economically. Kapok is used conventionally as a stuffing, especially for life preservers, bedding, and upholstery, and for insulation against sound and heat.

The Kapok fibre has a hollow structure with an external radius around 8.25 (±4) mm, internal diameter around 7.25 (±4) mm, and length around 25 (±5) mm. Combined with the specific material density of 1.3 g/cm3, the large pore volume in Kapok assembly is available for NAPL sorption. Typical analyses indicate that the Kapok fibres comprise 64% cellulose, 13% lignin and 23% pentosan. Besides these constituents, they also contain wax cutin on the fibre surface, which makes them water repellent notwithstanding they are preponderantly composed of cellulose.

Kapok Tree

  • The Kapok tree is deciduous and found in the forests of Asia and Middle America.
  • It grows up to 70m, and it has capsular fruits, which are picked and opened by hand.
  • The fibres of the fruits are air-dried and not treated with chemicals.
  • Kapok is a natural fibre that is completely biodegradable.
  • The natural bitter constituents of the Kapok fibre are anti-bacterial and anti-microbial therefore
  • Moths, mites and other microorganisms cannot infest the toy.

Eco-Friendly Materials - Additional Components

Additional elements to be aware of is ensuring manufacturers use water-based glue, paint, and sealants. Eco-friendly, green, recyclable eco building materials have a followable source trail. All components of the manufacturing process get checked to ensure low VOC components (Volatile Organic Compounds.) 

Top Tip

If you are striving to achieve a greener standard of living, do your due diligence and regularly check your carbon footprint and swap for more eco-friendly materials wherever you can.

Easy Vegan has some excellent carbon footprint calculators here that can quickly assess if you are on track.

Investing in Environmentally Friendly Furniture for Your Home

Are you planning on refurbishing your home or a room in your home?

If so, you have a wealth of choices at TOPECO Home when it comes to style, materials and colours. 

TOPECO offers a luxury range of eco-friendly decor and sustainable furniture that appeal to the more discerning homeowner.TOPECO offers a luxury range of eco-friendly decor and sustainable furniture that appeal to the more discerning homeowner.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint With TOPECO Home

The future lies with products that are not only good for us but also good for the planet. Discover how you can choose sustainable, stunning furniture from the TOPECO home design collection.The future lies with products that are not only good for us but also good for the planet. Discover how you can choose sustainable, stunning furniture from the TOPECO home design collection.

There are plenty of ways that you can make your home more environmentally friendly.

Adding furniture and decor made from eco-friendly materials is one of the best ways you can contribute to building a better planet. 

TOPECO Home Reforestation Pledge

Solid wood, glass and steel are the three primary eco-friendly materials in most of the TOPECO Home furniture collections. Solid wood is the all-mighty mother material, and all supplies come exclusively from controlled and programmed cuts.

Every tree cut down for the production of a TOPECO Home furniture item, further trees get planted in their place.Every tree cut down for the production of a TOPECO Home furniture item, further trees get planted in their place.

In other words, for every tree cut down for the production of a TOPECO Home furniture item, further trees get planted in their place. The cycle of life is maintained and chemical off-gassing is eliminated.

It's Easy to Switch & Stay Vegan

The Easy Vegan App scans and examines your current shopping list and substitutes each product with a delicious vegan alternative - ethical, sustainable and utterly cruelty-free shopping. 

The Easy Vegan Platform and App is a complete personalised plant-based guru-in-the-pocket for transitioning meat-eaters and vegetarians.The Easy Vegan Platform and App is a complete personalised plant-based guru-in-the-pocket for transitioning meat-eaters and vegetarians.

Get early VIP access to the Easy Vegan App and see how easy it is to 'Switch & Stay' vegan for life.

Easy Vegan 30 Day Switch and Stay Try-Out Challenge.Easy Vegan 30 Day Switch and Stay Try-Out Challenge.

With GPS tracking and intelligent AI learning technology built-in, your transition to a clean, healthy and contribution-based lifestyle starts with an Easy Vegan 30 Day Switch and Stay Try-Out Challenge.

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