Ceramic is as old as the world. It has been manufactured and used for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks and Romans were crazy about it. Ceramic is found in every corner of the world.
Clay is the first material used to manufacture ceramic. It is baked at very high temperatures. Clay is abundant in nature, even if manufacturers have been using it for ages. From this aspect, ceramic is definitely an ecological material.
On top of that, ceramic is extremely durable once it is placed on the floor or walls. It can last for almost half a century. And it requires little maintenance, which in itself is a distinguishing feature of a sustainable material.
The surface of ceramic is often vitreous, which means that there is no risk of toxic substances spreading in the air of a home. Even better: more and more manufacturers are resorting to recycled material, such as glass, to manufacture ceramic.
The beauty and richness of carpets and rugs is undeniable. They are a fountain of colours, styles, designs and textures. They can give a room its decorative momentum.
Carpets and rugs have been getting bad press for a few years (read the Green carpets and rugs article), which explains their decline, but that doesn’t affect their role as creator of ambiance. The sumptuous lofts of Chelsea in London or Manhattan in New York do not deprive themselves of carpets.
Walls with neutral colours allow carpets and rugs filled with flamboyant designs to become the centre of attraction, since these textiles have the ability to define the style of a bedroom, a living room or any kind of sitting room. For example, sparkling colours will blend with the warm woodwork of a room, creating a sumptuous decor.
On the contrary, a plain carpet or rug allows you to decorate a room any way you like. Sometimes designs and colours of a carpet or large rug are found elsewhere in the room: bed cover, curtains, a throw rug on a crate, creating an effect of continuity. If everything is rather plain, you get an atmosphere tinted with great intimacy. Continue reading →
The future doesn’t just belong to ecomaterial. Glass is the shining example.
Initially, i.e. many centuries ago, glass was not very transparent or resistant. Scientific progress allowed glass to gain in transparency and strength. That is why the manufacturing of glass requires a great deal of energy because the transformation temperature is high. It emits CO2, heavy metals and polluting gases in industrial quantities.
Glass is far behind wood, stone, earth or straw in terms of ecological materials. However, it is far ahead of the pet peeves of ecologists: PVC, aluminium and even steel. Continue reading →
The expression “invest in stone” used to mean to invest in construction and real estate. Why? Because real estate is a strong and durable sector. Like stone.
Is there a more natural, more resistant, more sustainable and stronger material than stone? It’s practically eternal. Not surprising that it is among the materials of choice in this era of green living.
Stone is abundant in nature. It is recyclable, waterproof, porous and requires little maintenance, which keeps it far away from numerous chemical products. It filters pollution by absorbing carbon dioxide, the main gas behind the greenhouse effect. Another important asset: it’s fire-resistant.
Stone reduces energy consumption in a house by storing the heat for redistribution as needed. It is a natural heat regulator, since it combats temperature variations. In Quebec, however, this ecological advantage is lesser because insulation separates the exterior stone wall from the interior. But lesser does not mean nil. A stone floor exposed to the rays of the sun in winter will slow this ecological loss.
Elsewhere in the world, in certain mountainous regions, crushed stone is piled around foundations of homes to deal with the violent winds and extreme winter temperatures. These crushed stones heat the inside in winter and cool it off in summer.
Stone is not perfect. Its mining, at times its transformation and shipping result in a considerable energy expense, given the weight and mass of the material. These operations release a good dose of carbon dioxide into the air. Therefore, it’s preferable that the stone be mined in the region itself. The shorter the journey, the more the material becomes ecological. Fortunately, Quebec has numerous quarries, including the granite and marble quarries in the Mégantic region, and slate in Saint-Marc-du-Long, the largest quarry in North America according to Wikipedia.
French Wikipedia article on slate
Habitat sain et écologique, Ginette Dupuy, Les éditions Quebecor, 2011, 295 pages
Guide de la maison verte, Michel Durand, Les éditions La Presse, 2008, 339 pages
Wood is the only fully renewable material and it has the ability to fix carbon dioxide, an important asset in the planetary fight against global warming.
Wood is a living being and therefore has a great ability to adapt to outdoor conditions: light, heat, humidity.
Despite its light weight, wood is resistant. It ages well, like good wine, and has no problem passing through the centuries, making it one of the most sustainable materials.
Do you want to join the ecological turnaround? You can’t go wrong with wood. But you need a minimum of knowledge so you don’t get mislead.
The ideal ecological product meets four requirements: the material comes from the region you live in, it is manufactured nearby, it is healthy and durable and can be recycled. Wood meets these requirements hands down.
But the ideal ecological world doesn’t exist yet. For now, we have to try to be as ecological as possible. On top of that is added a fairly major variable: the budget. Some products are financially accessible, others not so much. The same goes for wood.
Wood has multiple uses: siding, frame, skeleton, parquet, panelling, furniture. But you have to be careful when decoration comes into play. Mahogany, teak and ebony are formidable and highly esthetic woods, but they have a lower ecological virtue than maple or oak because they come from outside the country. Pine on the other hand is highly recommended. Continue reading →
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