I just finished watching a popular home and garden show. The rock star looking host showed how you can save the earth while still having a fabulous bathroom.
Instead of installing earth killing ceramic tile or hardwood flooring, he would use cork (I believe that is also from a tree, like hardwood flooring, but I am thinking too hard). The cork would be glued to the sub floor, much like other flooring. Then the cork would be sealed with polyurethane; I don’t see how that is earth friendly. Finally the joints would be filled with grout, which I think is used with ceramic tile.
I know much of what humans do is not always the best way; that new construction materials and practices are needed for us to be more efficient and less wasteful. What I also see is that many people throw all common sense out when they are told to follow a new, popular trend.
This cork flooring option emphasizes to me what is being pushed around the globe. Without researching, I believe that cork is only grown in several places on the planet. This means that it must be shipped to the United States, like many other materials, which is in itself not an earth friendly practice. I have not checked hardwood flooring, ceramic tile and cork against each other for their carbon footprint. With all the processing and shipping of each added up for each one, I bet they would all be very close in the end.
It is a shame that many eco-conscious alternatives are being sold to the public, but many basic options are passed over .There are many wasteful construction practices that should go away, but there are many simple things that can be adjusted in our lives to make real change. Here are just a few things all homeowners can do to make a real difference without having to purchase the newest line of “Green” material.
1. You can lower the temperature on your water heater by approximately 10 degrees. Most will hardly notice the change in temperature, but will see money saved on their utility bills.
2. Adjust the cooling/ heating temperature setting on your thermostat by at least 1 degree. A change of 2-3 degrees is barely noticeable, but the savings each month will add up.
3. This seems way too simple, but turn all lights and appliances off when not needed. Americans love to leave everything electrical on, all the time.
4. Switch all incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs, these are now cheap enough to buy economically.
5. Using shades or drapes, keep direct sunlight out of your home in cooling season and allow it in during the heating season.
This is a very short list of what we can do to save money and be friendly to the planet. The money savings equate to lower utility consumption and lower environmental impact on the earth, which is what the main thrust of the “Green” movement should be.
I have been in many homes where the owners are proud of their cork floors, concrete counter tops and their recycling of materials. On the flip side the home is 5,000 square feet of living space that needs to be heated and cooled and all the family members drive gas guzzling SUVs. My question is, “How is that being Green?”