Eco-Friendly Building Materials for Your Home

This is a guest post from the staff of, a site for home ideas and inspiration.  The Earthling’s Handbook is not affiliated with any of the businesses whose products are linked here, and the editors of The Earthling’s Handbook have not used any of these products in our own home–but we strongly encourage recycling and thinking green when you improve your home! By Jane Blanchard

new home construction

Image via Flickr

When you’re passionate about improving the environment, everything you do should be sustainable. If you’re in the market to build a new home or make improvements on an existing one, there are lots of different materials that you can use that are eco-friendly. Whether you plan on adding a new recycled rubber roof to an existing home or using recycled steel within your new construction, these materials are great places to begin when looking for eco-friendly building material options.

Recycled Steel

Using recycled steel in the construction of your home is one of the simplest ways to be eco-friendly. Steel is one of the most recycled materials in the world, and in 2008, 97% of it was recycled, according to Wikipedia. Chances are, the steel you plan on using for your home already contains some recycled material. To be sure, though, you should ask when purchasing materials where they come from. Some steel companies make it a point to advertise that they use recycled steel. Take, for example, the company Schnitzer Steel; on their website they are upfront about their building materials. They utilize nearly 100% scrap metal sourced from their metals recycling business to produce high-quality reinforcing steel and wire rod used in new construction.

Alternative Flooring

Are you updating your kitchen or living room? Instead of installing new hardwood floors or carpet, why not try an alternative flooring? There are all types of flooring options that are great for the environment and still look stylish in your space.

bamboo flooring

Bamboo flooring image via Wikipedia

A favorite flooring type at the moment is bamboo. This type of flooring mimics wood but is much more sustainable than wood. Lumber Liquidators explains that bamboo is a perfect option because it’s a “fast-growing grass that produces new shoots without the need for replanting.” One of the best parts is that you can pick up this product at any home store like Lowes or Home Depot. On average, bamboo will cost you between $2 and $3 per square foot.

It might seem silly at first thought, but concrete flooring is another eco-friendly flooring option. A lot of families love the ease of cleaning it, and you can paint it a number of different colors. Concrete can be poured in different rooms, or you may already have it in your home if you live in a warmer climate. One of the best things about concrete, according to, is the fact that it never needs to be replaced. How’s that for sustainable?

Last but not least, if you really love the look of hardwood, you can invest in reclaimed flooring. Although this option can be pretty pricey, you can have customized reclaimed wood floors installed. This type of flooring can be resurrected from old barns or other wood structures. Also referred to as antique floors, this type of wood can be purchased beginning at $4 per square foot.

Recycled Rubber Roofing

rubber roof slates

Rubber roof slates image via Green Building Supply

Clay tile, slate, asphalt shingles, and metal roofing materials are what traditional homeowners reach for when they’re putting on a new roof–but these popular roofing materials aren’t as sustainable as recycled rubber roofing. Green Building Supply sells authentic slate-looking recycled rubber tiles. These modern tiles come in a number of different colors and last up to fifty years. Truly eco-friendly, the recycled rubber tiles offered by this company are made of 80% post-industrial recycled rubber and plastic.

Another rubber roofing company making strides in sustainability is Euroshield. About fifteen years ago the company began looking for a way to recycle products. Later, they decided to use old tires to create roofing. It takes between 600 and 1,000 tires to make up a regular-sized home’s roof. The site has its own interactive map so you can see where you can purchase these eco-friendly building materials. Along with costing less than other roofing options, rubber roofing lasts longer and is completely sustainable. Upkeep is easy and inexpensive. Using rubber roofing is a no-brainer if you’re trying to be eco-friendly and need a new roof!

Tires aren’t the only thing being recycled. According to, saw dust and slate dust can also be ground into powder and molded into the shingle shape. These roof materials also are heat and cold resistant.

For more tips and tricks, head to

Visit Waste Not Want Not Wednesday and Works-for-Me Wednesday for more great tips!

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