How to choose eco-friendly materials when building

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There can be a lot of waste if a job isn’t treated with the right amount of respect in the construction industry. Living in the world we do, where there’s a gap in the market you can be guaranteed there will be some new eco-friendly product or idea to fill it.

Building with an environmentally friendly mindset can benefit the feeling of your home and obviously the impact on the environment, and is perhaps more pertinent now than ever. But how do you separate what is actually eco-friendly, and what might just be some new trend?

A good basic guide is to look for products made from natural, renewable materials as well as products made with recycled material. This becomes quite a maze once you delve in! So here are some ideas on how to make sure the building products you choose – no matter the size of the project – are sustainable and lean toward being eco-friendly.


Options for flooring vary more than the mind can hold, so if you suffer from choice-paralysis, choosing sustainable flooring options won’t just help the environment but may even give you greater peace of mind.

  • Bamboo is not actually technically a wood, it’s a fast-growing grass– so fast it’s usually able to be harvested every 5 years. Compared to the sometimes 30 years that most timbers take, and considering how flexible and tough this ‘grass’ is, it makes for a great sustainable option for flooring.
  • Cork has been around for years and is one impressive material: impermeable, buoyant, elastic and fire-resistant, harvested from the cork oak forests of Southern Europe and North Africa. It’s extracted from the bark of the trees, so it doesn’t harm the tree itself and every nine years there is new bark to be removed.
  • Salvaged wood planks: While it might take a little more time, salvaging old wooden planks from demolition jobs make for amazing looking floors. If you love a bit of antique charm, then this is the road for you.
  • Natural carpets: Lots of carpets are made from synthetic fibers made with chemicals, but there are plenty of natural options such as wool, seagrass, jute, sisal, and coir, which aren’t only eco-friendly but will feel much nicer underneath your feet!


If you’ve ever done a paint job, you might be aware of how strict the laws are around getting rid of some kinds of leftover paint. That’s because they can be quite toxic, however, there are some options to help reduce this.

  • Low VOC paint: VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds and it’s these that are responsible for the potent smell that oil paints give off. Low VOC paints have less of these nasty chemicals, and some paints (if you have the budget or are extremely sensitive) have none at all.
  • Natural paint: Sometimes termed organic paint, uses earth-friendly materials which are biodegradable. To be considered a true natural paint it must be completely free of petrochemicals.


There are lots of clever ways that insulation can be installed now instead of using fiberglass. From soybean foam spray insulation to shredded newspaper treated with fire retardants, to shredded denim, to name a few. There are lots of creative ways to be sustainable with insulation if you’re willing.


There’s no doubt you want to make sure your roof can withstand both the sun and rain and in NSW we get extremes in both. There are a range of impressive roofing solutions in line with eco-friendly solutions.

  • Recycled metal: if you want to use metal then try to find roofing panels made from recycled aluminum, steel, copper or some kind of alloy that combines different metals.
  • Slate/stone tiles:  these contain natural earth ores and have no chemicals.
  • Clay tiles: these little beauties consist of natural earth ores that are then baked, and they have no petroleum or chemicals.

We could make a list that went on forever, but the main thing to keep in mind is that if it’s natural, renewable or recyclable, you’re probably on the right track!

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