Look to the past, not the future.

Kyle Towberman week 10


In the past week, we have seen our hope for a green future get a little less likely. But despite that sad fact, there are thankfully, a few options already out there as far as sustainable materials go, so all hope is not yet lost.

The first of these, I have touched on in another post, so I will skim over it quickly. Hemp is a great resource that is fast growing and could make the world a much greener place all on its own. This is due to hemps high versatility in uses, such as a concrete, cloth, rope, and even plastics. Its only downfall is the high regulations placed on its growth in the United States.

The second of these already existent sustainable material is bamboo. Bamboo is extremely fast growing (some sub species are among the fastest growing plants in the world). It also has the compression strength of concrete and has the tinsel strength of steel. And due to its growing patterns (nearly perfectly vertical) it can be planted in very dense patches which, when combined with its fast growing rate, sets it up as the perfect high yield, high turnover, sustainable material we need.

The last of these materials I will touch on is wool. Wool, as most of us know, comes from sheep, with a few exceptions for similar animals such as llamas and alpacas. Wool is a very versatile material that gives of little emissions and is fully sustainable. Its benefits a mainly derived from its strength despite being made from small pieces of hair, as well as its ability to be woven very easily into textiles and other forms. A new use for wool has been discovered however: bricks. Researchers in the UK have discovered that by adding wool to mud and clay along with some natural polymers found in seaweed, they can make bricks that are stronger and require no firing. The wool acts a material for all the other pieces to attach to and aids in structural support of the brick.

The future for green materials MAY (nothing is for certain) have received a big blow, that doesn’t mean we are totally screwed, we just now have to be more creative than ever and find new uses for old materials. The tree items in this blog are things that have been on this planet for thousands and thousands of years, and yet seem to still be under used and overlooked as building materials, despite the fact that they have all been used by our ancestors in one way or another. Maybe it’s time for us to stop looking towards the future for answers and instead focus our attention on the past.






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