When I sat down to write about green building materials for decks and patios, it occurred to me that many people don’t even know what “green” means. It is a word that gets thrown around more and more as the public becomes more conscious of our impact on the planet. This is a step in the right direction, but awareness doesn’t do any good if it doesn’t come with an increased level of understanding. It is very easy to participate in activities that are widely known as eco-friendly, such as recycling and carpooling. However, many people still do not understand how their decisions about less obvious things, such as building materials, could possibly impact the environment one way or another. So today I will begin with a quick-start guide that can be used for determining the general resource efficiency of all things, up to and including building materials for your home, deck or patio.
Eco-Friendly Hardwood Flooring – First, I would like to share an insightful infographic developed by the specialists at Floor and Décor. The infographic shows how hardwood floors are the eco-friendly option for your home and deck.
Recyclability – Priority should be given to products that were manufactured using recycled material, and which can be recycled again after use. This includes remanufactured, salvaged, and refurbished goods. Also keep an eye out for products with recycled and recyclable packaging materials.
Durability – Durable products and materials last longer, so they do not need to be replaced as often. This is good for the environment. However, it decreases the demand for production. Manufacturers who cut corners on the quality of their products so that they will need to be replaced more often are a big part of how we ended up in this mess to begin with. Those who prioritize durability over profit margins are far more deserving of green consumer dollars.
Local Availability – Freight trucks, ships and commercial aircraft account for over 30% of the reported greenhouse gas emissions in the US. The best thing consumers can do to help cut these numbers back is to support local manufacturers. Materials that are produced and purchased locally do not need to be shipped across country, so they leave less of a footprint in the long run. Products will often be shipped away to meet demand in other places if local consumers do not purchase them, so tell your friends about any local manufacturers you find in your own research.
Sustainability – Products which are made using natural materials stand to have the biggest impact on the environment. Synthetic materials are often made in massive factories which are at high risk to the environment as well. This is why various programs now exist to rate and certify the sustainability and environmental impact of forests, farms, and factories. With a little research, it is easy to find out if something you want to purchase comes from a responsibly managed source.
With every passing year, the Earth’s resources are depleted beyond humanity’s ability to replenish them. The only way to fight this is for more individuals to consider the consequences of their consumer decisions. At the end of the day, everything comes down to the almighty dollar. This reality is part of how we got into this mess, but it can also be a part of how we fix it. The best way to live responsibly in an economy like this one is to think carefully about where your money is going and only use it on products that meet the above criteria. If more consumers do this, green practices will quickly become the standard.
Author Bio: Jennifer Parker is the writer and owner of Hanyman For The Home, a blog all about home improvement, renovations, interior design, and DIY decorating. Her work can be found on various interior design and remodeling blogs around the web.