Sustainability. Green solutions. You’ve probably heard it all a thousand times by now.
Sometimes, it may seem like nowadays the entire world is on some sort of environmental crusade. But is it a cause even worth fighting for?
Here at Misona, we certainly think so.
After all, shouldn’t we all try our best and work collectively to at least take a part of the burden off our planet’s weary shoulders? Simply put - it’s the right thing to do.
This is exactly why it’s great to see so many companies go above and beyond to raise awareness, and come up with new ways of replacing non-renewable resources and harmful materials. This might just be our ticket to a brighter future.
Trying to be more eco friendly
At the end of the day, it’s a very complex issue encompassing a wide array of different factors and challenges. That’s why, unfortunately, there is no simple answer to that particular question.
It’s nearly impossible to zero in on a single “party” we could hold responsible for the current state of affairs.
Be that as it may, it’s hard to overlook the impact that manufacturing has on environmental degradation and pollution, particularly because of the heavy use of toxic substances it typically involves.
Mind-numbingly high water consumption (coming up to 20% of global freshwater supply), discharging chemicals and industrial waste are just some of the many harmful consequences caused by manufacturing that are working to the detriment of our planet.
And the list goes on.
As we’ve already established, it’s anything but a simple issue.
If we were to really simplify it, we could essentially break it down into two rather straightforward questions:
Is shortage of that material an actual possibility – which is ultimately a matter of sustainable versus unsustainable materials, and number two: can it be reused or recycled?
So, what's the remedy?
The answer is quite simple: choose sustainable materials.
Materials that can be either completely renewed or replenished very quickly – unlike, of course, unsustainable materials.
Here are nine of the most underrated and, in some cases, really surprising alternative materials we can quite easily find, and use much more effectively in our daily lives, and hopefully leading us to a more sustainable future..
Algae is becoming somewhat of a hit in a still relatively young industry known as bio hybrid construction.
In this case, we’d like to focus on green algae – simple living forms, typically single-celled, that can grow in local ponds or rivers.
Yes, the very same thing so many of pool owners have to struggle with.
As it turns out, it has some truly amazing qualities and, when implemented properly, potentially offers very promising return on investment and wide range of possibilities.
Let’s take world’s first B.I.Q. (Bio Intelligent Quotient) building as an example. It was designed by a Hamburg-based German company and the main idea was built around a special glass panel containers filled with algae biomass that were then attached to the sides of a regular concrete building.
What’s so interesting about this project is that it can supply power to the entire building - both heating and electricity.
Oh, and did we mention it was all carbon neutral?
Bamboo is truly one of the most amazing materials out there. Indeed, we'd go as far as saying it is one of the best eco friendly materials, especially when it comes to textiles.
Stronger than timber, more durable than steel, this evergreen grass is easy on the environment, grows really quickly (even up to 1 meter a day), and it’s not exactly picky – it can survive in a variety of climates and different types of soil.
Plus, it doesn’t really require a whole lot of effort from the farmers – once planted, it’ll be fine on its own.
In countries like Vietnam, China, India, or Japan, it’s an extremely popular material used for buildings and household items - from bathroom products, like bamboo towels, all the way to dinnerware, furniture and even lampshades.
It’s great to see the Western world starting to appreciate what bamboo has to offer, especially in textile industry.
It may not be fit to use as construction materials in countries with more harsh climate conditions, but still, it can be used as a replacement for many interior or exterior elements of buildings.
With its unparalleled self-regeneration capabilities and growth rate, the ability to produce 35% more oxygen than most trees, as well as the amount of carbon dioxide it can absorb, it is truly hard to find a more sustainable material.
Next up – cob, an old and established building material, mainly due to its simplicity. After all, it’s nothing more than a mix of water, clay, sand, and straw.
By no means, however, should we be dismissive about its value just because it’s not some kind of smart, hi-tech solution – on the contrary.
As we all have probably heard, the Ancient Greeks knew a thing or two, and cob was one of their go-to construction materials.
It potentially deserves a title of the ultimate sustainable building material – it’s literally in the ground, which means transportation isn’t an issue; it can be sourced on site, it’s also non-polluting, fully recyclable and extremely affordable.
What a lot of people may find quite surprising, cob is actually weather-resistant and can keep a stable indoor temperature, regardless of whether it’s hot or cold. This may help with improving energy efficiency and reducing energy consumption in the home.
With new technologies, it might be a good idea to revisit and improve on some of the solutions that have been around for ages.
That’s right. Coffee husk, the skin of a coffee bean. It dries and then it falls off during the roasting process.
Currently, thanks to brilliant idea of one of the Bogota-based companies, it is used to deal with housing crisis in Colombia.
They decided to use what was locally available and considered waste anyway. By combining coffee husks with recycled materials such as plastic, they managed to develop an affordable, lightweight, durable building material with water and pest-resistant properties.
That’s sustainability 101 right there!
Most of coffee husks end up on the landfills, which is a shame as they could be used as bio pesticides and fertilizers.
Cork is one those materials that have been around for so long, but only recently has it really started getting some more attention and appreciation.
You might associate it mostly with wine stoppers or bulletin boards, but it offers so much more than that.
The versatility of cork is probably its greatest strength. Growing mainly in the Mediterranean, this material can be used for housing, clothing, household decorations, door mats or even bathroom products like a natural bath mat.
Of course, it’s not without its limitations, especially when it comes to construction industry, but many professionals and architects value cork for its durability and affordability.
What’s very important and unique about cork is that harvesting process is actually a sustainable practice – there’s no need to cut down any trees whatsoever to obtain it.
Easy on the eyes and recyclable. The full package.
Also known as a diatomaceous earth, this naturally occurring type of soft rock has a truly wide array of different applications.
It’s used in pest control, filtration, even as a dietary supplement as well as an ingredient of personal care products.
Thanks to its porous structure it absorbs liquids extremely well, it’s also anti-bacterial - all around heavy-hitter in the family of multi-purpose products.
What about sustainability? It’s formed by living organisms, so the deposits can be replenished over time.
In fact, anyone who owns Misona’s instant dry bath mat, which is a part of our organic bath mat line of bathroom products, knows perfectly well what incredible properties this material brings to the table.
This natural material provides and excellent environmentally friendly alternative to bath mats made with more traditional materials such as cotton and microfibre.
This one is a typical building material, sort of a new addition to the family.
It’s a bio-aggregate composite material made form hemp shives (woody stem of the hemp plant), which are essentially a waste product, combined with lime-based binder and water.
It’s lightweight, quite durable, although perhaps not really fit for any load-bearing elements of a building, and more importantly – completely eco friendly.
This is another creative idea that in the future can be a viable alternative for all-concrete houses or buildings, even though it needs support from wood, steel or concrete structures.
What’s more, it offers great insulation, and, on top of that, it’s moist and mould-resistant as well as fireproof.
When the humidity is high, it can also absorb moisture from the air and then release when it drops.
Just a quick question before we move on – can you guess what is the lifespan of a hempcrete house?
It’s 300-500 years. Impressive, right?
Let’s be honest. There’s nothing quite like good old conventional cotton. It’s the very definition of irreplaceable, if there ever was one.
Unfortunately, as great as it is, it’s also absolutely detrimental to our environment – after all it is called “world’s dirtiest crop” for a reason.
We’ll try to keep it short and sweet, and focus only on two main issues; heavy use of toxic pesticide, and seemingly endless thirst for water.
For example, 1 kilogram of cotton typically requires 10,000 litres of water!
Thankfully, there’s a sustainable alternative – an organic cotton.
It employs responsible agricultural practices, with the main focus on minimising negative environmental impact.
From a consumer’s perspective, the quality is just so much better, so you definitely will be getting your money’s worth.
That’s why Misona organic bath mats are crafted using 100% organic cotton. It’s better for you, it’s better for the environment.
It's also why choosing sustainable materials is at the forefront of our minds whenever we are designing a new product for you.
The last item on our list is a not-so-distant cousin of algae.
Much like its freshwater counterpart, it’s also used as a building material. In this case, however, mostly for roofing and insulation.
As it turns out, it has some amazing properties; it’s non-toxic, fireproof and on top of all that, it reduces carbon dioxide emissions.
It might sound surprising, but they’ve actually been around for ages now, especially in Scandinavia, where many newly emerging companies are still keeping this proud tradition alive in a new, revamped form.
And if it’s good enough to keep them warm up north, it could also be a viable option for our far less harsh weather conditions.
But, how is it sustainable?
It grows on its own in the sea without any need for human involvement, and then it’s just washed ashore, again, all on its own – we don’t even have to harvest it.
We should also mention the lifespan – it comes up to 150 years, but some houses in Denmark are more than 300 years old!
There's no simple answer
In the end, there’s no magical formula that could make all the environmental problems go away.
These materials are not perfect for every single setting, but it’s definitely a start. Using natural materials is also highly recommended.
There’s one thing we should keep in mind - the best sustainable method or material is the one that works for our needs and can be used locally. After all, a bamboo-only house is probably not a good idea, if you live on the rainy coast of Jersey.
Nevertheless, there’s certainly something on that list for everyone to try out…
So why wait?