Recycled Building Materials Help You Get Green from the Ground Up

by Sandy Boyd on June 6, 2013

Everyone is familiar with using recycled products around the house, and many people make it their goal to use as many of these green choices as possible.

But you shouldn’t ignore the house itself. Next time you are building or doing a renovation project, take a look for recycled building materials when you start planning.

Now, when I talk about recycled building materials, I’m not referring to used materials that have been salvaged from other projects.

Of course, reusing existing materials is a very green practice that I highly encourage but this is more about products that are actually made from recycled materials.

Enviroboard is a type of construction panel that is made completely from agriculture waste, like rice straw, sugar cane debris and other similar stuff. These can be used for building walls, doors, roofs, partitions or flooring. This is a very new product and is typically used in modular housing units where low-cost housing is needed, but I am hearing more about this product lately and we may start seeing it more frequently in consumer applications. See if it’s available next time you have a building project.

Plastic Lumber

This isn’t a particular brand of construction product, but a type of recycled building material that is produced by many different manufacturers. It’s simply a form of board that is made from plastic rather than wood, and it’s used in any place that wood might be (decks, fences, railings, siding etc.) Being completely water-proof and rot-resistant means its ideal for outdoor applications, which is where you usually see it. Different brands are from varying levels of recycled plastics, and the lumber itself is completely recyclable when it is no longer needed. Redco Greenplus Recycled Plastic Lumber is one manufacturer that uses 100% recycled plastic in their lumber.

Environite Counters
Environite makes counters and similar surfaces out of recycled glass and stone materials. Their products look much like granite, and it just as durable. You can add some environmentally-friendly elegance to your kitchen or bathroom, and reduce the need for newly quarried stone in the process.

Recycled PET Plastic Carpets
That’s right, you can get carpet that has been made from recycled pop bottles. Though made from plastic, the fibers are still soft underfoot and resembles a conventional style of carpet. You may not even know the difference when you walk on it.

The two main brands of PET carpet are Permalon and Resistron, and both declare how stain-resistant and durable they are. Not only are recycled PET carpets made from reclaimed materials, they are treated with fewer chemicals because the plastic fibers are already stain-proof.

Recycled Shingles
There are a few different types of shingles on the market that are made with recycled materials, so you do have a few options when you are greening your roof. Euroshield makes a heavy shingle made from recycled rubber (mainly automobile tires) and they look like traditional thick slate tiles. Another choice would be Enviroshake, for a product that looks more like cedar shakes. Enviroshakes are a composite material that is 95% recycled, and will long outlast actual wood shingles.

Denim Insulation
I love this idea. UltraTouch Denim Insulation is a fluffy batting that is used just like rolls of fiberglass, except that it’s made from denim manufacturing scraps. Mainly cotton, this insulation doesn’t have any of the health hazards that come with using fiberglass or other foam products, and it is just as effective.

Be warned that green building products aren’t always the cheapest options, but they can quite often be a better investment because they last longer or require less maintenance. This is particularly the case when using a plastic-based product to replace a wooden one. In any case, if you’re looking for a greener alternative, the cost may not be the only thing that matters to you.

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