Sustainable Sheffield! Unusual materials to use in your sustainable home
One of my favourite ways to spice up an interior scheme is by incorporating unusual materials, or using materials in an unusual way. Sustainability is also fundamental to me and everything I do, so I thought I would bring you a dedicated blog post all about unusual materials to consider using in your sustainable home. Sustainable interior design materials can seem daunting, however, there are so many amazing options out there which I think are even better than the traditional alternatives which most people automatically turn to.
One of the easiest sustainable interior design material switches to make is choosing linen fabrics as opposed to cotton alternatives. Linen fabrics are much more eco-friendly to produce than cotton, most notably because it can be grown with far less water than cotton. Linen is a wonderful, durable material which makes it suitable for lots of uses including curtains, bed sheets and tablecloths to name just a few.
Another great way to incorporate some more unusual sustainable interior design materials into a design scheme is to look for fabrics which have been made from recycled goods. Camira’s Oceanic collection is made from marine plastic waste, partnered with the SEAQUAL initiative to combat marine plastic pollution. Each metre of Oceanic fabric contains the equivalent of 26 plastic bottles, making the perfect alternative to fabrics made from new fibres.
Similarly, Kirkby Design’s sustainable collection includes a variety of fabrics from sustainable textured chenille to recycled wool which give an incredibly luxurious feel. All fabrics in their sustainable range are made from recycled materials, and the sales are partnered with charities, marine conservation society and trees for life.
All of these options are available in a great range of colours and showcase a wonderful variety of textures, providing as much wow factor as any other fabric alternative. Choosing recycled fabrics is one of the easiest ways to prioritise sustainability in an interior design project.
If you are looking for something a little more unusual in the sustainable interior design material market, why not consider leather from the leaves of pineapples! Piñatex is an innovative natural textile made from waste pineapple leaf fibre. The leaves of pineapples are often left to waste during the farming of pineapples, so Piñatex got creative. The creator of Piñatex was shocked by the environmental impact of the leather industry so set about forming a more environmentally friendly alternative. Read more about the process here.
Cork is a wonderfully versatile sustainable interior design material. When cork is harvested, the trees from which it is taken are not cut down. Once harvested, the trees then regrow their bark, continuing to photosynthesise and remove carbon from the atmosphere as they do so. Easy to install and maintain, when used in the right space, cork is a great surface. Cork can be used as a wall covering to create a warm, welcoming environment providing a natural tactility and comfort. Cork flooring is an excellent choice for lots of spaces, naturally cushioning it has a nice bounce whilst also absorbing lots of sound pollution, preventing a space from echoing. Cork can also be used for surfaces such as kitchen countertops, resilient and easy to repair it gives a much more relaxed feel than a harsh stone countertop for example.
Used across building, architecture and design, bamboo can be implemented in many ways. Fast growing and self-replenishing, bamboo is incredibly renewable making it an excellent sustainable interior design material. Bamboo can be manufactured to create a wonderful alternative to hardwood floors, its fibres can be made into fabric or it can be used to make a range of accessories. Using bamboo adds texture to a scheme in a fresh, Scandinavian style way, making it the perfect material choice for a clean, contemporary design. Maybe you could consider installing a bamboo blind or light shade for a peppering of alternative texture.
Oh the nostalgia of papier-mâché! My memories of the table top craft go way back to my primary school days of making a big sticky mess. However, this humble craft has recently had quite the revolution, moving away from piñatas to sophisticated and textural designs. A paper-pulp composite, papier-mâché is a great unusual sustainable interior design material being used by designers to create a huge range of items from the small to the large, the simple to the intricate and the subtle to the colourful. For ultimate sustainability, look for papier-mâché designs made from recycled fibres.
Raffia is made from palm tree leaves and makes a great sustainable interior design material, especially for woven items such as baskets and storage. Raffia is a durable and flexible material, allowing it to be moulded and manipulated into a number of shapes and forms. This material suits an astounding range of interior design styles from coastal to contemporary. You could consider including it in the form of a rug, placemats or lampshades
Planning an interior design project with major structural changes? You could think about using hempcrete blocks, a more sustainable alternative to concrete building blocks. Hempcrete is a composite material made from wet-mixing hemp shiv with a lime binder which provides a natural, vapour-permeable, airtight insulation material. It is a “better-than-zero-carbon material”, locking away more atmospheric carbon for the lifetime of the building than was emitted during its construction.