Building with cork

A study conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) study estimates that up to 8,000 pounds of waste are created during the construction of the average 2,000 square foot home. Most of that waste is wood, cardboard and drywall – and nearly all of it winds up in a landfill.

What if we could turn that around and start building homes with materials from the landfill? More and more innovations are making that vision a very real possibility. Your next new home could be built entirely from garbage.

Here are some of the more interesting home building materials that are being made from trash. Be warned – some of it is pretty gross!

Cork flooringWine Cork Floors and Walls

Instead of ceramic tile floors or traditional dry walled walls, why not turn to a renewable resource? Since nearly 4 billion bottles of wine were consumed in 2013 in the U.S. alone, there should be plenty of wine corks to go around. Yemm & Hart is making tiles by combining recycled granulated cork with whole wine corks, so you can see the origin of the material. Innovative and beautiful!

Newspaper Wood Planks

More than 43 million tons of paper and cardboard are recycled every year in the U.S. Designers from Norway-based Vij5 decided to find an innovative way to reuse those materials. They created a wood-like material by combining the paper with solvent-free glue then rolling it into a log shape. Next, they chop it into planks that can be used for a variety of applications – pretty much anything you’d typically build from wood. The wood planks are sealed so they’re both flame-retardant and waterproof.

Blood Bricks

Did you know that blood is one of the strongest bio-adhesives since its protein levels are high? And a ton of it is wasted during the slaughter of animals for food. That’s why British architecture student Jack Munro made a proposal to use freeze-dried blood in a powder form mixed with sand to create a paste. That paste would then be used to form bricks. While this application could be used in urban areas, it would be very useful in remote areas where construction materials are lacking, but blood from hunting is not.

Diaper Roofing Tiles

If you’re an environmental advocate and didn’t cloth diaper, you probably felt guilty every time you threw a disposable diaper away, right? Would you feel better if you knew they could be recycled? Technology is capable of recycling diapers and sanitary products into usable items like roofing tiles! Through a special recycling process, the polymers are separated from the “organic waste” (yuck!). The separated polymers are used to create construction materials like the roofing tiles from Lightweight Tiles LTD.

Mushroom Insulation

Ecovative Designs has found an innovative way to make insulation from agricultural waste and fungal mycelium. Unlike traditional insulation, which usually isn’t biodegradable and is sometimes toxic, this mushroom-based insulation starts with plant-based farm waste – and can wind up in your garden since it’s totally compostable. Insulation blocks are made by placing the organic materials into a mold. Within days, they grow to the desired shape, and growth can be stopped by placing it in a hot oven.

Which one of these landfill materials would you like to see used in your next new home?

Images courtesy of Real Cork Floors

By Chrystal Johnson

Chrystal Johnson, publisher of Happy Mothering, founder of Green Moms Media and essential oil fanatic, is a mother of two sweet girls who believes in living a simple, natural lifestyle. A former corporate marketing communication manager, Chrystal spends her time researching green and eco-friendly alternatives to improve her family's life.