Have you ever thought about decorating your new kitchen or bathroom with old clothes?
While it may not be the most appealing décor option at first glance, there is actually good-reason to reconsider the idea if you’re planning an eco-friendly home renovation project in the future.
A group of Australian researchers has discovered a way to turn textile and glass waste into high-quality building materials that can be used for in-home and out-door projects. So whether you are considering remodeling your kitchen, updating your bathroom or adding a varnish to your patio furniture, take a look at this information about the future possibilities of re-purposed building materials before you start and you might just be able to save a tree and a buck.
Why Eco-Friendly is Important
Solid waste accumulation in landfills around the world is an ever-growing environmental issue. Just to give you an idea of how much, about 18 billion pounds of plastic trash ends up in the ocean every year. That is enough trash to cover every foot of coastline around the world with five full trash bags of plastic—yearly—and that is just the plastic.
The United States produces close to 230 million tons of solid waste every year and less than a quarter of that is recycled, the rest is incinerated or tossed into landfills. Textile waste is the second most polluting sector in the world accounting for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions. Even though glass is commonly considered the easiest to recycle, it takes a lot of effort and resources to safely process used glass. This stops many businesses and organizations from investing the time and money to make it happen.
With the population growing, many researchers project that the waste contamination issue will only get worse. That is why many scientists are making an effort to find ways of re-purposing the used resources into sustainable materials.
In addition to the textile and glass re-purposing discovery, Australia’s University of New South Wales (UNSW) has found ways to salvage various technology waste, such as cell phones, laptops and printers for re-usable materials that can be manufactured into metal alloys, carbon and 3-D printer filament.
To see some more of the unique ways waste is being re-used, check out this article.
Just as Good
Not only are composites and re-purposed material better for the environment, but they are sometimes even better than the original material. Re-used composite decking is stronger and lasts longer than regular wood because it doesn’t warp, crack, splinter or rot due to the combination of recycled plastic and wood components.
As part of the research project at UNSW, they were also able to create tile and stone-like materials with clothing and glass waste. This composite is a breakthrough for glass recycling since it is able to use mixed glass and what is considered “non-recyclable” toxic glass without having to melt it, therefore keeping it safe to re-use.
So far, the composites have been made into ceramic style, wood veneer and even granite design finishes. And beauty meets bronze with these composites. They passed tests for durability, fire and water resistance, acoustics and load-bearing capabilities.
As efficient as these composites appear to be, there is a grievous catch. They aren’t yet available. As UNSW makes efforts to complete its second microfactory in order to produce these composites more quickly, they are still working to commercialize the material.
Ideas on How To Re-Purpose as You Renovate
Just because these materials aren’t on the market yet doesn’t mean there aren’t several other ways that you can be kind to the planet throughout your home improvement process. Here are just a few other tips for eco-friendly renovation ideas.
Donate Items You Are Done With
Instead of just tossing out that banged-up washing machine or microwave, there are several ways those old appliances, windows and doors can be recycled into usable materials. If your item is still in fairly good condition, there are several organizations such as, Habitat for Humanity who welcome operational appliances. Many towns and cities offer recycling programs and will take some of the materials for free or a fee. If your appliances, doors or windows are busted and you’re planning to haul them, first check the hauling company to see if it dumps into a landfill or if it outsources to recycling companies.
For more on recycling windows check out this article.
Re-face instead of Replace
Instead of doing a complete overhaul on your kitchen or bathroom, minimize effort and cost by simply putting a new finish on a functional item. Replacement of old doors or windows can be expensive. Refinishing instead makes them look good as new for a fraction of the cost. Consider replacing just the glass in a broken window instead of replacing the entire window. Or simply give that door a thorough scrub or polish. Here are a few extra resources to help you with refreshing, repainting or cleaning old doors and windows.
Be Mindful of Materials
Here are a few tips for finding eco-friendly doors or windows when renovating. When shopping for windows, keep an eye out for Energy Star certified windows. Getting eco-friendly doors and windows can save energy and money by better insulating your house. Also, consider window and door material. Wood and vinyl are energy-efficient choices and vinyl tends to last for a while. Decks, countertops and tile can also be made out of re-purposed material. So when you’re shopping be on the lookout for eco-friendly products.
Here are a few articles with more information about finding the right eco-friendly door and window materials: How to be “Green” Replacing your Windows, How Long Do New Replacement Windows Last?, Saving Money with ENERGY STAR Rated Windows and Doors.
Use green-tips and tricks while remodeling your home? Leave a comment telling us how. We love to hear what unique ways everyone plays a part.