3 Eco-Friendly Materials to Use in Your House

In today’s society, more and more people are choosing to do their part to help the environment. And fortunately, going green at home has never been easier. Something as simple as adding or utilizing your draperies during the winter can help reduce heat loss by up to 10%, saving a ton of energy. But if you’re remodeling, or even building a home from scratch, you have the opportunity to choose sustainable materials for your home. So let’s take a look at a few eco-friendly materials to consider.

Bamboo

Bamboo is quickly gaining popularity as a great eco-friendly building material. Bamboo materials are made from interwoven strips of bamboo — and bamboo plants don’t usually have to be replanted elsewhere; they simply grow in the same spot over and over. And because they take up less land and grow quickly, bamboo plants are very sustainable. This material is super durable, making it a great choice for flooring, but it can be used on walls as well. It can even be used underneath other materials for added durability and insulation. So while bamboo can’t be used as a material for a subfloor in a pier and beam foundation, which should be at least one half inch plywood, it can be used as flooring, wall materials, and even as mats and screens.

Recycled Steel

Metal fabrics, like steel, are also a great sustainable material choice. While producing steel at the beginning uses a lot of energy, steel can be recycled and used again — several times, actually. The materials of metal fabrics are generally 40% new materials and 60% recycled materials, which is already better than brand new materials. But consumers can buy recycled steel and use it for structure in a home. Steel can be used for structural support, like beams, or it can be used for floor or wall panels. All in all, recycled steel is durable and uses a lot less energy to produce.

Cork

Unlike wood and paper, making cork does not require cutting down an entire tree. Instead, cork is harvested from the bark, which leaves the tree to continue to grow. Tree bark only takes about seven to nine years to grow back, making cork an environmentally-friendly material choice. This material is usually found as flooring. Not only is it very comfortable to walk on, but it’s also hypoallergenic, anti-microbial, and adds great thermal insulation. Kitchen flooring is a great place for cork because it offers great shock absorption, making it comfortable to stand on for long periods of time. Cork is an economical material choice and can be a great green option. Fun fact about cork: cells were discovered in 1665 while Robert Hooke was observing a cork under a microscope.

Choosing green materials has never been easier with the wide variety of options that are available today. So if you’re doing some remodeling in your home, consider one of these materials to make your house a little more eco-friendly.

Recycled Paper & Packaging Company Expands With New Facility In Virginia

In this environmentally-conscious era, people care about how “green” a company is. Those who reduce their waste, commit to reusing materials, and host recycling programs are more valued for their ability to create a quality product without negatively impacting our ecosystem. And when they expand as a result of these efforts like in the case of Pratt Industries, the response is quite positive.

The recycled paper and packaging company has grown significantly since its founding 30 years ago, and is now the fifth largest corrugated packaging company in the United States. Pratt Industries specializes in creating paper-based packaging and shipping materials; by manufacturing products that are completely made from post-consumer recycled materials, they have maintained their commitment to the environment and sustainability. After having spread out to 27 states, they set their eye on Botetourt Country in Virginia (although multiple states competed for the project).

“We are proud to partner with an innovative, global manufacturer like Pratt Industries that shares Virginia’s commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “This major investment that will have strong positive impact on the regional economy and help advance Virginia’s thriving manufacturing industry.”

The new facility, still in its fledgling state, sits on 22 acres at Botetourt Center at Greenfield and occupies a staggering 100,000 square feet — with room to at least double in size. The building is expected to create 50 new jobs in the area, adding to Pratt Industries’ more than 8,000 employees across the nation.

“Pratt Industries is excited to expand in Virginia,” said Chief Operating Officer of Pratt Industries David Dennis. “We are grateful to the Roanoke Regional Partnership, Botetourt County, and VEDP for their efforts to bring Pratt to Botetourt County.”

By salvaging and reusing a portion of the 92 million metric tons of paper that are produced in the U.S. every year, Pratt industries is working to change the way businesses operate. By offering 100% recycled corrugated boxes, they’re doing their part to protect the environment.

These Portable Bluetooth Speakers Are Absolute Garbage (Literally)

For many of us, the allure of technology and convenience has caused us to ignore the preservation of the planet. But now, one startup is attempting to be more sustainable — without sacrificing connectivity.

Gomi, a UK-based design studio, has based its entire ethos on producing beautiful technology from things we throw away. Although plastic wasn’t even invented until the late 19th century and widespread use didn’t occur until approximately 1950, we’ve managed to do a lot of damage in that time. Data from 2017 revealed that 6.9 billion tons of plastic has become waste, with 6.3 billion tons of that waste never ending up in a recycling bin. Trash dumpsters are already serviced at 60% fullness or less, on average, meaning that we’re wasteful in a multitude of ways.

And then, of course, there’s the plastic that cannot even be recycled. In many countries, including the UK, many flexible plastic products are not accepted for recycling. As a result, plastic bags, bubble wrap, and other items end up in landfills — or worse, become beach pollution. That’s where Gomi’s idea really came from: the plastics that cannot be recycled. With the startup’s vision, they’re now being repurposed as stunning Bluetooth speakers.

Each one of these speakers is made from approximately 100 non-recyclable plastic bags in multiple hues. Therefore, they have a unique and modern visual appeal. Not only is today’s consumer drawn to sustainability, but they also tend to like modular options, which provide more versatility. Gomi designers kept this in mind when creating their speakers, as they’re meant to adapt to the customer’s needs. Modular construction reduces construction time by up to 50% while improving cash flow, but modular design isn’t limited to industrial structures or residential buildings, like Downtown Container Park in Las Vegas–which spans 19,000 square feet with a mix of 30 shipping containers and 41 multifunctional modular cubes forming its perimeter. You might have modular storage in your home, for example, which can be rearranged to adapt to your needs. Many of these plastic storage components are made via the reaction injection molding process, where two liquid components are mixed and injected into a mold to chemically react and cure.

Gomi’s speakers aren’t made in the exact same way, but they’re constructed by melting down the plastic bags, compressing the material, and then molding the plastic into its final shape. Gomi has partnered with local wholesalers to source the plastic waste that might otherwise end up as pollution. The internal components, unlike the speaker housings, are comprised of wireless streaming technology that provides 18 hours of superior listening on one battery charge — a successful hybrid of both old and new.

As Gomi co-founder Tom Meades noted in a statement, “We were inspired by the cradle-to-cradle design process, thinking about our products full-lifecycle right from the beginning of our design process… With our Bluetooth speakers, we want to intercept a waste stream that would otherwise be landfilled or incinerated. Flexible plastics/LDPE is widely regarded as non-recyclable by UK councils, and so we thought this would be the perfect material to harness and show that through innovative design this can be valuable, and does not have to end up as waste polluting our environment. Instead, we can craft this material into desirable objects.”

The team is also working on a portable charging brick comprised of the same plastic materials and plans to offer free repairs and free recycling returns. The unique Bluetooth speakers are currently part of a Kickstarter campaign that’s made $15,000 of its near-$60,000 goal. That said, Gomi won a substantial grant from the Environment Now Programme last year for its project and has also received funding from the Santander Big Ideas Competition. Although not everyone will agree that a unique Bluetooth speaker is a necessary home accessory, one would hope that consumers would lend their support to an idea that utilizes otherwise discarded plastics and turns them into something far more beneficial than garbage: music.

Make Your Move More Earth-Friendly

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There are a number of ways to reduce your carbon footprint on the planet. One way is to have a green home. You can even make your move easier on the environment as well by hiring a moving company. If you are making a long distance move hiring a moving company, such as North American Van Lines, it is much more cost efficient and is also easier on the environment since you will be moving all of your belongings at once rather than having to make multiple trips in a personal vehicle. That saves a substantial amount of gas and will also make your move go much more quickly.

What a Green Home Has to Offer

In order for your home to be considered a “green” home there are a number of things that you need it to have. Your appliances should be Energy Star compliant. Energy Star appliances use much less energy than appliances that do not have the sticker on them. Your home should also be built with materials that have been locally sourced, renewable, or non-toxic. You could even use materials that have been repurposed such as old barn wood. You may also choose to have your home situated in a certain way so that you can make the most out of what mother nature has to offer. For example, if your home faces the south, you can get the full benefits of solar heat that the sun gives off, and you will not have to turn on your lights and heat on as often. This is a more green way to live and will also save you money on your utilities.

Enjoy the Benefits of Green Features

The sun also has therapeutic benefits, so you will be able to enjoy a better mood and happier outlook on life. You can also cut down on your water usage by utilizing a rainwater recapture system or by using more efficient plumbing fixtures. Even if you implement a few green features into your home, you will gain the benefits that a green home has to offer. You can gradually add more green features of your home but a great place to stay is with your appliances since you use them often and you can save a lot of energy consumption in that area quite easily.

Ways to Make Your Home More “Green”

Other ways to consume less energy are to get an on-demand water heater and to install triple-paned windows. You should also replace your regular bulbs with LED lights. Be sure also to unplug anything that you are not using such as your printer, computer, and television as they can still drain power when they are not in use.

Take a Load Off and Hire a Moving Company

Hiring a moving company for your move will make moving less stressful, and you will not have to worry about moving those large items on your own. You can also focus on other things while your movers take care of the heavy lifting. Moving a few items on your own is no big deal, but when you are moving far away from your old home, and you are moving an entire household, it is just simply too much to do on your own. Not only will it take much longer but you are more likely to injure yourself and to break things as you hurry and try to get everything done on your own.

It is just not worth the headache. Plus, hiring a moving company can save you money as you will not have to take as much time off of work to get moved. You also won’t have to get all of your moving supplies or make multiple trips with your vehicle to get the move completed.

It can also be helpful to stay organized so that you spend less time hunting around for things once you get to your new place. You can do this by properly planning boxes to their corresponding rooms. So, if things belong in the kitchen, you should label it as such. Try to pack similar items together as well so that you can put things away more quickly since you unpack. A little planning will save time and your sanity.

How to Keep Your Home Warm While Saving Energy

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With the temperatures dropping outside, it’s important to keep your home warm and cozy. But if you keep the heat cranked up to the max, there’s a good chance your energy bill is going to increase drastically. Fortunately, you don’t have to freeze to save energy this winter. We’ve compiled a list of a few simple ways to keep warm and reduce your energy use all winter long.

First, if you have yet to invest in a programmable thermostat, now is the time to do so. Having a programmable thermostat will allow you to set the temperature to go lower when you’re not home or sleeping. While this may seem like it doesn’t do much, lowering the heat even just a few degrees can make a big difference. But it’s important to use it wisely and ensure you’re not trying to cool down or heat up your home with a huge difference in temperature. This actually uses more energy. So be mindful when you’re programming the temperature settings.

Next, it’s important to take a look at your windows. Drafty windows are one of the biggest causes of energy waste in homes. And if your windows are more than 15 years old, you could be at risk of dealing with drafty windows. So check your windows for any air leaks — if you find any, invest in new windows or at the very least, seal the drafts. Along with your windows themselves, it can be beneficial to utilize your curtains. On sunny days, open the curtains up and let the light in to help heat your home. And when the sun goes away, shut the curtains for added insulation between the room and the cold windows.

If you experience unusually high heating bills, you may want to consider taking a look at your home’s insulation. Having proper insulation is extremely important for keeping heated air inside your home. Because heat rises, about 40% of heat loss occurs through the attic. So it couldn’t hurt to hire someone to take a look at your home’s insulation and replace it as necessary. Insulation can wear down over time and can even be ruined by pests. In this case, it’s better to be safe than sorry and have it replaced if needed.

And lastly, it’s important to keep your heating systems maintained. Fortunately, scheduling annual inspections can be an easy way to make sure everything is in good working condition. But if you notice anything wrong with your furnace, heat pump, or another heater, it’s important to get it taken care of as soon as possible. When heating systems have to work harder to run, they use more energy. Additionally, you should check your other systems too for damage or leaks. This includes systems like your hot water heater. Without household leaks wasting about 900 billion gallons of water each year, it’s essential to make sure your systems are running as efficiently as possible.

Saving energy in your home doesn’t have to be hard. Keep these few simple tips in mind and you’ll be toasty warm with a low energy bill all winter.