From bamboo to hemp, we explore a few of the innovative materials that are leading the way towards a more planet positive future.
Capable of generating light and energy while scrubbing greenhouse gas emissions from the air, algae is a relatively new entrant to the assortment of sustainable materials available to designers. The photosynthetic organisms have been incorporated into everything from light fixtures to tiles that have the power to combat pollution.
Bamboo, a grass with a much faster growth cycle than timber, has taken over the sustainable design scene over the course of the last few years. From paper to scaffolding and toothbrushes, bamboo is a highly versatile material that offers a smaller carbon footprint than wood, concrete or steel.
As a natural fiber derived from a variety of the cannabis sativa plant, hemp has long been used in textile production, food and medicine. The plant can sequester twice as much CO2 from the atmosphere as forests, grows much faster than trees, and requires less space for cultivation. Recognizing its planet positive properties, hemp is increasingly being transformed into biocomposites used in the design of buildings to home furniture.
Mycelium are the vegetative structures of fungi, made up of white or cream-colored long fibers whose tissues are not only fireproof and non-toxic but also offer industrial level strength. While this fantastic fungi is most commonly seen as a biodegradable packaging alternative, mycelium-based materials are being leveraged by designers across the product spectrum.
Who knew that industrial waste dumps would be the next frontier for sustainable alternatives? Stone paper, which is paper made from recycled limestone ground into a fine powder, has been slowly gaining traction as an alternative to the pulp-based standard. While this material is currently only found in notebooks, its success indicates that it’s likely to soon make its way into other household products.