In the times we live in, it's no longer enough to settle for product features as quality, aesthetics, functionality, or price... We require that our products, also care -socially and environmentally- about the way they are produced. And this isn't simply because you should think about reducing your environmental impact, it is also because you can improve the way you live, and in a larger scale, your financial and social context. If you've pondered on the additional benefits of using sustainable materials everyday, discover here diverse advantages to being more mindful about the materials you choose.
Find the following information below:
Benefits of using sustainable materials
Examples of sustainable materials
Products made with sustainable materials
1. Benefits of using sustainable materials
Our concern for the environment and for sustainability has dramatically increased in recent decades. This is why, we see more of our everyday items and even construction projects being completed using sustainable building materials. These materials offer a number of advantages, both economic and environmental.
Here are some benefits of using sustainable materials that you may be ignoring:
Improve your finances
Many sustainable products have in common a feature of long-term usage. The fact of using a product in a longer time frame will not only bring benefits to the environment, but also to your wallet as well. You may often be tempted to buy “what’s on sale” but the wiser decision if you'd like to actually save money, is to invest in a long-term material product that can be used for many years.
Take the classic example of the water bottle:
Buying a bottle of water for $3 each day adds up to $1095 each year — so it’s not hard to see how ditching this habit could save you lots of cash.
Not only that, but the production of bottled water creates over 2.5 millions tons of carbon dioxide emissions in the US alone! Then, there's the fact that more than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year.
So do yourself a favour and invest in a stainless steel water bottle – it’ll last practically forever and keep your liquids ice cold or toasty warm. So not only is being sustainable good for you and for the environment, it’ll help you save a bunch of money, too. What’s to lose?
Enjoy of better health
Sustainable material products and green buildings can be beneficial to health.
In the case of the use of sustainable materials in the interiors, we find this is linked to a number of benefits. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, outdoor air is two to five times less polluted than indoor air. This is because commonly used building and furnishing materials, such as paints, cleaning products and carpets, can be dangerous for human health.
Therefore, opting for less toxic products and more sustainable materials can help with air purification. This means reduced exposures to chemicals that are linked to indoor health problems such as sick building syndrome, headaches, asthmatic reactions, communicable and respiratory diseased...
This research has found that indoor air quality can also affect the overall experience of a building’s occupants by impacting cognitive function and work performance. Thus, the choice of materials can play a significant role in health outcomes.
Your own home, as well as business and organisations can gain a number of returns by investing in sustainable interiors.
Boost your productivity
When evaluating a job offer, there's more to consider than salary and health care benefits. In fact, a series of studies led by Harvard University and SUNY Upstate Medical University, suggest that working in a green-certified building could improve productivity, job performance and overall well-being. In this research, it was found that occupants of high-performing green buildings showed higher cognitive function scores, fewer sick-building symptoms and higher sleep quality scores than workers in high-performing buildings without green certification.
These studies found that, compared with those working in non-green-certified buildings, occupants of green-certified buildings had, on average:
- A 26.4% higher cognitive function score.
- A 73% higher crisis response score.
- A 44% higher applied activity level score, which reflects the ability to make decisions that achieve workplace goals.
- A 38% higher focused activity level score, which reflects the capacity to pay attention to the task at hand.
- 30% fewer self-reported sick-building symptoms such as respiratory problems, fatigue and skin irritations.
- A 6.4% higher sleep quality score.
Additionally, several studies have reported that environmentally friendly workspaces help employees perform better while reducing absenteeism. The better the environment, the easier it is to concentrate and work effectively toward the completion of tasks.
Reduce the amount of waste you deal with
Let's evaluate the case of sustainable materials in construction. In Europe, the construction industry is responsible for 34.7% of the continent’s total waste. Green buildings minimise waste with their lower environmental impact and use of renewable sources and materials. Products such as demolition debris, sand and burnt coal can be used with excellent environmental and aesthetic results.
In the case of home or the office, if you can use packaging materials that are either reusable or recyclable, you are able give a new life to the materials for various purposes such as using left-over cardboard boxes to store office equipment. This helps in reducing waste and preventing the unnecessary purchase of products.
On the other hand, using recyclable materials like cardboard or paper for packaging helps you convert them into other products that can be effectively used later. This ensures that the packaging materials don’t go to waste or to the landfills once they are discarded.
Reduce noise around you
Noise can have a significant effect on a person’s well-being.
In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report that shows how exposure to prolonged or excessive noise may cause a range of health problems ranging from stress, poor concentration, productivity losses in the workplace, and communication difficulties and fatigue from lack of sleep, to more serious issues such as cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, tinnitus and hearing loss.
A different research on materials for interior acoustics shows how airborne sound insulation of natural materials such as flax or of recycled cellulose fibres is similar to the one of rock or glass wool. Many natural materials (bamboo, kenaf, coco fibres) show good sound absorbing performances; cork or recycled rubber layers can be very effective for impact sound insulation. These materials also show good thermal insulation properties, are often light and they are not harmful for human health. Furthermore, many of these materials are currently available on the market at competitive prices.
Improve your comfort, satisfaction, and wellbeing
Efforts to improve your comfort and satisfaction every day are important because discomfort has negative consequences for your work effectiveness, job satisfaction, and quality of work life.
A number of studies indicate that certain building features such as connection to nature, for example through natural and sustainable materials, appear to have positive psychological and social benefits. The benefits include reduced stress, improved emotional functioning, increased communication, and an improved sense of belonging.
Feel good for choosing sustainable
Researchers at the University of Concordia in Montreal, Canada have found that buying green has a positive effect on how you feel about your purchases. This effect is known as “warm glow” and it's known as the personal benefit that people feel when they do good. The results were published in the Journal of Cleaner Production, an international scientific publication which covers environmental and sustainable research and practice.
Better and longer use of materials
Just as the definition says, sustainability is meant to make something last. The main idea of using sustainable materials is to construct surroundings that last—and a longer-lasting belongings mean lower maintenance costs and less up-keep. A cost reduction and extended life-span seem reason enough to convince anyone into building a sustainable home. Example materials that can be used to make a sustainable home to last longer are durable bamboo, cork, natural fibre wool, concrete, reclaimed wood, to name just a few.
Additionally, when sustainable materials are used in buildings, they manage water in a more effective and environmentally friendly manner. Sustainable buildings can be equipped with systems that recycle water, such as collecting rainwater for toilet cleaning. Sustainable buildings can collect and preserve natural energy, such as solar or wind energy, storing it and reusing it accordingly.
Be smarter with your energy use
Recycled materials used during the construction process are contributing significantly to the protection of the environment and to the reduction of waste. Moreover, sustainable construction takes into serious consideration a number of critical elements. The installation of well-insulated windows, ceilings and walls can ensure that no energy is going to waste. Additionally, the use of solar heaters, insulated air-conditioning pipes and photovoltaic panels can make buildings more energy efficient and less harmful to the environment.
Support better working conditions
The manufacturing of sustainable materials has a plethora of benefits in every stage, for example improved health due to safer materials, increased productivity thanks to better surroundings...
Sustainable materials often support local communities as they not only preserve traditional skills but also create new income opportunity and ensure a much stronger social cohesion.
Have room for experimentation
Sustainable materials have an interest composition and they provide an excellent opportunity for creative experimentation in your space. Also, new materials are being used and as a result, more innovative techniques are being developed and implemented. Keeping an open mind and a well-functioning plan can result in further beautiful, and potentially groundbreaking changes in your spaces.
2. Types of Sustainable Materials
When choosing a building material for product or project development, a number of factors need to be considered when determining how sustainable the material is. These materials need to be harvested from renewable rather than non-renewable resources. The environmental impact of the material chosen must be considered over the whole life-cycle of the project, rather than merely over the short term.
Going “green” is not a trend for no reason. Many people are now becoming advocates for sustainable products because they are enjoying many benefits from it. Here are the most common sustainable materials used in today’s different industries
This unique fiber is sourced from plant waste. Because of its ability to strengthen fiber, it is used to mix in food packaging to keep water or air from leaking out. Since this material is taken from crops rather than trees, it is more sustainable as it does not take a long time to wait crops to grow compared to trees.
Bamboos are one of the fast-growing plants on Earth. Bamboos are so versatile that they can be used as foundation for building houses and can be used as furniture. Although thin and light weight compare to other trees, bamboo is also durable. With its unique, waxy exterior, it has the ability to be waterproof and at the same time heat resistant.
3. Recycled metal
Although recycled metal still takes heating and reshaping and being transported from one place to another, it has been proven that as metal gets reused and recycled efficiently, the energy it uses to be reshaped and remodeled gets less and less every time. It is more sustainable than purchasing brand new metal as you are not harvesting “new raw” metal at all.
4. Natural Fibres
Natural fibres as those ethically and sustainably obtained from linen or wool make excellent textiles for many different product applications. Also, fibres from trees like coconuts, palm leaves, forestry by-products, grasses and stalks have the ability to be turned into any shape and become packaging for products, and actual products as well. These fibres are biodegradable and hence, better for the environment.
3. Products made with sustainable materials
At Forest Homes, we live to support sustainable materials that improve your indoor wellbeing. Find below a few examples of sustainable materials that you can find here, at Forest Homes.
Bamboo Chair and Tables
Birch Bark Light
Birch Bark Organizers
Birch Bark Stools
Beautiful handwoven recycled rugs
In photo: Helena Recycled PET Rug