You probably know that your living space needs insulation to be an effective and comfortable shelter. Even if you’ve designed your home in the most eco-friendly ways possible (e.g., adopting passive solar design or transforming your roof into a green roof) you will still need to insulate your space. What you might not realize is that some of the most common substances used for insulation contribute to ozone depletion.
In order to avoid these ozone-depleting options, many have turned to fiberglass or other synthetics. The problem is that most of these rely on the production of plastics. And while these are long-lasting and better than single-use plastics, any production of plastic is harmful. The truth is that there are many other sustainable options. The following are organic alternatives, none of which add to ozone depletion.
Cotton is the one of the most eco-friendly options available. Cotton insulation is typically made from recycled denim. For every piece of cotton insulation you use, you decrease the number of old jeans added to a landfill. The material is shredded and then remade into a material that can be attached to the walls as with traditional insulation. This shredded and pressed denim is then treated with a fire retardant. Cotton is also a natural repellent to insects, which would help your home against ants, termites, and other bugs. It’s also very safe to handle if you want to personally install, unlike fiberglass. Its R-value, or the amount of temperature insulation it provides your space, can be just about the same as that of fiberglass. The downside of cotton is that its price is nearly double that of its competitors. Although this is the most expensive choices, it is one of the best for the environment.
Thermacork is a less expensive type of insulation made from the bark of oak trees. This material is produced by companies that harvest the cork from their own sustainable cork forests. Because cork forests lower carbon dioxide levels, some believe thermacork production may actually have a negative carbon footprint. This option has a high R-value, and as an added bonus, is also a good sound insulator. For this reason, thermacork could be an attractive option at Oasa co-living locations if your group requires sound-proofed areas.
Icynene does not, by sight, seem very eco-friendly, since it’s a spray option with a puffy appearance similar to fiberglass. However, you should not be fooled by icynene’s looks. It is made from castor oil, and one of the strongest organic insulators on the market. However, the upfront cost of icynene installation is high. Icynene is so effective that installers must ensure high-quality ventilation to avoid trapping too much air inside the space.
In addition to wall insulators, you can also consider installing triple-glazed windows. As the name suggests, these windows are typically made from three layers of glass. While these can be pricey, they are such excellent insulators that they would quickly begin to save you money in energy costs, especially in cold climates. Their R-levels are so high that for some spaces, they might even be able to make up for deficiencies in your wall insulation.
Any of these options would result in a well-insulated home, saving you money and the environment from harmful toxins.