Going Green: Eco-Friendly Home Improvement and Building Products

Want to go green on your next home improvement project? Take a look at Carter Oosterhouse's favorite eco-friendly (and often economical) supplies and materials.

  • Composite Decking

    Because it is made from a combination of a wood waste and recycled plastic, composite decking yields superior strength, longevity and dimensional stability. It won’t warp, crack, splinter or rot like wood.

  • Paper-Based Countertops

    Made of tree pulp taken from strictly managed sustainable forests, paper-based countertops are a great alternative to stone and plastic surfaces. They come in a variety of colors and are mostly stain-, scratch- and heat-resistant.

  • Bamboo Plywood

    Bamboo is a sustainable wood because it grows rapidly and reaches maturity in just four years. The plywood is laminated together using a low-VOC (volatile organic compound) adhesive. Bamboo is great for bathrooms because it stands up well in a moist climate. In this remodel, the bamboo vanity is topped off with a bamboo sink.

  • Rubber Mulch

    Made from 100-percent recycled tires, rubber mulch is suitable to use on most landscapes. It has several benefits: a safe play surface for children, prevents weeds, does not attract insects and water and air can easily flow through it.

  • Lumber From Sustainable Forests

    The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international organization that sets standards for responsible management of the world’s forests. These shelves and cabinet were made from FSC-certified oak plywood with a soy-based adhesive.

  • Synthetic Grass

    This yard’s centerpiece is the plush green lawn. The best part about it: it's totally maintenance free. Eco-friendly synthetic grass requires no water, no mowing and stays green for years.

  • Natural Linoleum Flooring

    The perfect choice for this retro-style kitchen, natural linoleum has been popular for over 100 years. It is made from all raw materials, including linseed oil, resins and wood flour. Natural linoleum is often used in hospitals because its bactericidal properties stop microorganisms from multiplying and it is easy to clean.

  • Soy Concrete Stain

    The surface of this beautiful patio was finished in soy concrete stain. Made with eco-friendly, rapidly renewable materials, soy stain is acid-free and contains no hazardous materials. It's also great for indoor use.

  • Recycled-Plastic Carpet

    Plastic beverage bottles are sorted, ground into fine chips, cleaned, melted, extruded into a fiber and then spun into plush carpet yarn. Even the bottle caps and labels are used to create the cores on which the yarn is spun around.

  • Repurposed Furniture

    Be eco-friendly by repurposing old furniture instead of throwing it away. It diverts waste from landfills and prevents the harvesting of new trees. In this project, an old armoire was turned into a drop-down game table and storage console.

  • Eco-Friendly Carpet Tiles

    Quick and easy to install, these carpet tiles are made from 80 percent post-consumer recycled poly fiber. They are stain-repellent and won’t trap dirt like traditional carpets, thereby reducing allergens in the air. But, if the squares do become dirty, you can just replace the individual squares and not the entire carpet.

  • Recycled Glass Countertops

    Windshields, stemware and beverage bottles are bound together with concrete and fly ash (a waste by-product of coal-burning power plants) as opposed to a petroleum-based resin binder. The countertops are comparable to granite in terms of strength, scratch resistance, heat resistance and maintenance.

  • Wood From Sorghum Plants

    Kirei board is made from sorghum stalks, which are typically burned or thrown into landfills after the edible portion is harvested. Kirei wood is made with non-toxic adhesive that does not emit formaldehyde.

  • Cork Flooring

    To make this flooring, about one third of the cork-oak tree's trunk is stripped — the tree is left undamaged and quickly regenerates new bark. Cork flooring is durable, yet it is much softer than standard hardwood flooring and it's easy to install with a tongue-and-grove locking system. In this kitchen, two colors of cork are used to create a unique pattern.

  • Bamboo Butcher Block

    Formaldehyde-free bamboo is ideal for kitchens because it's food safe and doesn't emit harmful toxins. Bamboo grows rapidly and reaches maturity in just four years. Harvesting is done by hand in closely managed forests, minimizing any harmful impact on the environment.

  • Biodegradable Hemp and Wool Carpet

    This carpet is completely biodegradable since it’s made with 100-percent natural, raw materials. Hemp is nature’s strongest and most durable fiber. The carpet is naturally pigmented, rather than dyed with harsh chemicals. The adhesive used is made from natural rubber and the backing is made from jute, both of which are robust and biodegradable.

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