Sustainability looks set to be the buzzword of 2019. It’s popping up in discussions about food, shopping, travel and of course interiors. With the summer months fast approaching, we’ll sure be seeing sustainable materials bursting through the french windows of living rooms and making their way into patios and gardens. What sustainable materials can you expect to make an impact inside and outside your home this summer?
Soft, buoyant and with an authentic veneer, cork is a great alternative for kitchens, living rooms and hallways this summer. Cork is also an excellent noise insulator. If you’ve got people in the house who love charging around, it should be your go-to material.
Cork is taken from the bark of the cork oak and can be harvested without harming the tree, as the cork grows back every few years. It’s also a relatively local material for UK consumers, with 50% of the world’s cork production happening in Portugal, and neighbouring Spain producing another 30% of it.
Cork is entirely biodegradable and cork oaks are long-lasting, living between one and two hundred years. The oaks can be stripped of cork oak approximately every nine years.
Bamboo is the tough man of the world of wood. It’s three times harder than similar wood floorings and takes as much pressure as steel to break. Don’t be messing with it.
Equally versatile, it can be used for walls, flooring and decorative features such as lamp shades. Smooth and clean in appearance, it suits sleek, minimal rooms perfectly.
Bamboo can grow in a range of places, from tropical regions of the Americas to east Asia and Australia. It’s fast-growing, reaches maturity in just three to five years on average and can regrow naturally after being harvested.
Clay isn’t just for bricks and insulation, it can also be used in green paints (and we’re not just talking about the colour). Many paints contain VOCs, solvents released into the air whilst the paint dries. Not only do they cloy in the air when it’s warm, VOCs have been linked to headaches, dizziness and skin irritation. Clay paints are completely free of them.
What makes clay so sustainable is the minimum processing it requires. Once it’s taken out of the ground, all that needs adding is water. Straw or sand can also be used to strengthen it. In three words: super energy efficient.
Crisp, ornate and hardwearing, Terrazzo has been used in Italy since the 18th century to create enticing, textured floors. Today it can be found on tables, walls, floors and bathroom sinks, amongst other interior items.
Originally made through immersing marble scraps in concrete, in 2019 waste materials like smashed glass bottles left hanging around tourist resorts can be used instead.
Granite, marble and slate
Stone is one of the most durable materials in the world. You only have to look to the colosseum, still partially standing after almost 2,000 years, to believe it. The broad range of textures and colours stone comes in also makes it one of the most versatile materials for creating an array of interior effects, whether you use it on the floor, walls or elsewhere.
Natural stone emits no VOCs, making it an extremely safe material to use in your home. The extraction and transportation of stone are the least sustainable aspects of the material’s use, so it’s worth checking if the stone you like comes from a sustainable quarry before setting your heart on it for the new kitchen floor.