Materials are a huge element of designing a space. Whether it is the floor, cabinetry, countertops, etcetera, material choices have to be made and are crucial to having a more sustainable space. A prime example of a sustainable material is bamboo. It is a fast growing, renewable resource, but it is not necessarily the most sustainable route to take. Unless you live within a reasonable distance from a bamboo forest, one must take into consideration the amount of fossil fuels exploited to ship that material to the project, let alone the fact that bamboo does not grow in widths large enough to produce wood plank size floors. The amount of work and additives put into creating bamboo flooring severely outweighs its renewability. If you live in a completely different country across the ocean from the source of this material, then the sustainability factor has been completely lost. Sure, the forest is easier to populate again, but the air quality has been negatively impacted from the shipment of that sustainable material, not to mention the chemicals youâve now transported into your own home.
Local materials are the most sustainable way to go.
As long as the entire production process also operates in a sustainable fashion, materials that are from your geographical region will not only have a smaller carbon footprint, but also a growing support for your own local economy. You also want your space to fit in with the exterior environment so why not let the nature from the exterior be incorporated into your home in a new way. It seems sporadic when walking through a space that is having you jump from location to location of exotic materials. Instead, a cohesive story is told throughout the space when local materials are utilized, thus the ability to subconsciously create that feeling of comfort. Having that ease of transition from the exterior to the interior is a beautiful experience and luckily for you it is the most sustainable too!
A great place to start is building reuse stores.
Begin at www.recyclemorewisconsin.org to find more information on reusing or recycling construction materials whether you are purchasing materials or gutting an existing space. Granite, oak and even paint are all available âhome grownâ in the Midwest. Not a fan of granite or oak? Concrete is a great alternative as a countertop and staining oak dark creates the look of an exotic wood. If you are still not finding locally made materials you like, at least purchase them locally. You would be surprised at the amount of locally owned businesses with a huge impact on your community. Supporting the nearby businesses is a great sustainable choice on the economic and social levels.
Buy Local, Think Global
I love using local resources here in Eau Claire and the Chippewa Valley. Hallman Lindsay Paints are an amazing product with a great line of low or no VOC paints with coverage that cannot be rivaled. MC Stone Carpet Barn is a flooring, cabinet and countertop store with an added benefit of supporting a horse rescue. When we begin to seek resources within our own backyard we notice so many choices weâve overlooked with amazing pluses to our community.