There are amazing green solutions for home renovation these days. Back in the 1800s, Levi Strauss never imagined scraps from manufacturing denim jeans would have value as non-toxic home insulation. An old toilet could be reincarnated as your kitchen counter.
Blue jean insulation has an R-Value of 13-19, holds more heat, absorbs more sound, is formaldehyde-free and will not irritate the skin, nose, or throat. Completely flame retardant, it's saturated with a boron-based solution that also discourages mold, mildew, and pests. Its 90 per cent post-industrial denim and cotton fibers are sourced from manufacturing facilities. Trimmings and scraps are diverted from the landfill and given new life.
Linoleum is one of the greenest and more affordable flooring solutions. Around since the 1800s it lost ground to vinyl flooring back in the 50s. It's made from renewable materials like linseed oil, wood flour, pine tree rosin, jute, and limestone. Thanks to natural mineral pigments, you can find many attractive colours and patterns.
A similar product, marmoleum, also has no volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. Its performance gets better with time because it hardens when exposured to air, increasing durability.
Subscribe to the Queen of Green digest
Most traditional pressed-board cabinets are processed with toxic formaldehyde and then glued together with adhesives that also contain formaldehyde. Instead of conventional particle board, or MDF, which off-gasses for months after installation, choose formaldehyde-free wood products. For example, Purebond particle board and MDF board is formaldehyde-free. Sierra Pine Products also makes a non-toxic MDF available in Canada.
Terrazzo and composite counters tops are made from a combination of recycled crushed stone, porcelain (from toilets, sinks, and tubs), post-consumer recycled glass, and post-industrial recycled glass. Some companies also use discarded bottles, mirrors, and plate windows. The percentage of recycled glass can be as high as 100 with some Cradle-to-Cradle certified.
Donate the kitchen sink
Not sure what to do with those old cabinets or faucets? Habitat for Humanity's fifty-eight ReStores accept and resell quality new and used building materials, which helps generate funds to support their programs. Source a future project or make a donation, reducing the amount of waste headed for the landfill!
This isn't an exhaustive list of "green" home products or ideas, merely a teaser. What's been your best find on the path to sustainable design?
Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green