Environmental issues are a hot topic right now, with the effects of climate change being felt around the world and a serious need for many industries to change how they work to cut down on carbon emissions and protect the planet.
In response, there’s been a growing focus on eco-friendly materials and sustainable alternatives to some of the more wasteful materials that have been used for so many years. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at some of the top eco-friendly materials of the moment.
What Are Eco-Materials?
Before we take a look at the list of eco materials, it’s essential to understand what this term actually refers to. So, what are eco-materials? In simple terms, eco, sustainable, or environmentally-friendly materials are those which have a relatively low impact on the environment.
Unlike other materials, which may contribute to pollution or cause a lot of waste and carbon emissions, eco-materials are kinder and less impactful on the natural world. They’re often easy to recycle, for example, and the usage of eco-friendly materials is on the rise all over the globe.
3 Types of Sustainable Materials
When we talk about eco and sustainable materials, this doesn’t just refer to natural things like wood and metal. Instead, several different types of eco materials exist, including both natural and synthetic products. Below, we’ll examine three of the main types of sustainable materials and look at some common examples of each type.
Harmless and Non-toxic Material
We’ll begin with harmless and non-toxic materials. Many materials are made with dangerous chemicals that can poison the natural world. However, non-toxic materials are prepared without these chemicals, making them much safer overall.
Bioplastics are semi-synthetic plastics that are actually made with the use of natural ingredients, like corn or beans. They’re a great alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastics.
Printable polymer is emerging as the top sustainable alternative for making labels. For example, a permanent label made with printable polymer is more environmentally friendly than traditional label materials.
Stainless steel is a strong and resistant natural material. It’s also massively versatile, useful for anything from everyday items like metal water bottles and cookware to automotive parts and more.
Glass is a usually transparent material that is made primarily from sand. Used for doors and windows, among other things, glass is infinitely recyclable.
Natural materials are some of the first materials that people consider when it comes to eco-friendliness and sustainability. Sourced directly from nature and grown from the land, these materials are generally very safe to work with and free of harmful chemicals. They’re also usually quite easy to reuse and recycle.
Bamboo is one of the most popular natural, sustainable materials and can be used for countless kinds of products. Its growth doesn’t require the use of any pesticides, and bamboo plants can regenerate from the root, even after being cut.
As well as being a food product, coconut is also being used as a sustainable material. It can be used to form all sorts of items, like cookware, and can even be used as a building material.
Cotton is easy to grow, completely natural, biodegradable, and versatile. It’s one of the best materials for sustainable clothing.
Linen is another natural fiber with an array of uses. Fully biodegradable and easy to recycle, organic linen has a super low impact on the natural world.
The last kind of sustainable materials on our list is renewable materials. As the name suggests, these materials are those that are made from renewable sources, which means that the supplies can be replenished over time, and we don’t have to worry about running out of these kinds of materials or using up our stocks. Renewable materials can often be regrown or recycled again and again.
Solar energy isn’t exactly a material, but it is a renewable energy source that can power countless products, from a solar-powered water fountain to a solar-heated home.
Pinatex is an increasingly popular plant-based form of leather. It’s actually made from pineapples and is emerging as one of the top vegan alternatives to leather.
Once used for only a small selection of niche products, cork is becoming more widespread and used for things like shoes, accessories, wallets, and more. It completely regenerates after being harvested from trees.
Bio-fuels are fuels that are made from biomass. Common examples include biodiesel and bioethanol, and they can be used in place of traditional fossil fuels.
These are just some of the many kinds of sustainable materials in use around the world today. There are plenty more of these eco-friendly materials out there, too, and research is underway to find and create even more options. With so many great materials to choose from, it’s easier than ever for companies and individuals to make eco-friendly choices.
Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash.