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Alternative Materials

Posted by Ellen Strickland on

We will run out of natural and raw materials if we continue trying to meet the demands of construction needs without using alternatives. We must go beyond extracting materials from nature, using them once, and then putting them in a landfill. This is especially important with products and materials that are over-designed for their function. We can extend the lifecycles of the materials we have while we learn to make smart, new, and healthy alternatives.

In both our home and work environments we can take “waste” from one use or application and turn it into raw materials for another.

Recycled coke and beer bottle glass become high-end terrazzo counters or specialty surfaces. Plastic bottles transform into “smart” techno fabric for upholstery and curtains. They look like standard materials yet wear and perform better than many available fabrics. Used car and truck tires become recycled rubber flooring for gyms and playgrounds. Plastic bottle caps convert to ergonomically designed chairs for a home or office. Yogurt containers and pizza boxes become recycled materials for countertops and tabletops in offices, computer stations, or kitchens. Residue glass from light bulb manufacture and airplane windshields turn into glass tile for floors, walls, pools, patios, and fountains. Waste hulls from plants, seeds, and nuts are now made into composite paneling and flooring for home and work interiors. Reclaimed wood from torn-down barns or public buildings such as skating rinks become “new” old wooden floors in homes and offices. Materials and fixtures salvaged from old building sites can add charm and history to a new structure while helping to reduce the amount of deconstruction waste.

So check that trash again. There’s gold in there.

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