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External Environment


Focus on sustainability: Wood alternatives


Since 2010, the Ethical Consumer has tracked an 8.2% increase in sustainable timber spend and this figure is set to increase over the coming years. The planet loses 8.7 million acres of forest annually - the equivalent to 27 football fields per minute. But the tide is slowly turning, as people seek out products that are less damaging to the environment.


Wood is such a staple material that doing without it seems implausible. However, there are a lot of other materials that you can opt for. We’ve put together a list of the top sustainable wood alternatives for you to consider:


1. Hemp


Hemp is an incredibly useful crop and has been used in everything from rope making to construction throughout history. In fact, Hemp actually produces more construction-grade fibre than most trees, so it can even be formed into heavy timber for large projects. Hemp-based fibreboards have recently been studied by Washington State University and were found to be twice as strong as the traditional material.


2. Newspaper You’d think that old newspapers wouldn’t lend themselves to much more than wrapping fish. However, multiple companies, such as BetR-Block, have worked out ways to convert this waste material into building blocks. The results are more attractive than recycled plastic block prototypes to date and have been used in a whole host of innovative builds.


3. Nutshells and coffee grounds


Some specialist jewellery and furniture makers have been using discarded nutshells and coffee grounds mixed with resins (and formed into planks) as their new blank canvases. One example, ‘Maderon’, is mainly made from crushed hazelnut, walnut and almond shells, and is likely to become quite common as a useful by-product of the food industry. It’s lightweight, strong and entirely mouldable, providing many advantages over carved timber.


4. Wood composites


Decking is a great choice to reduce lawn footprint (a bonus for the environment) but the most common materials used (ipe, rosewood and teak) can be problematic in terms of deforestation. It therefore makes sense to turn to products like Millboard decking, to get the effect without the environmental impact. This decking is made from a mineral composite and Millboard has become the first outdoor flooring company in the world to have its carbon footprint independently verified. Quite simply, no trees are harmed in the making of Millboard.


5. Bamboo


Bamboo is one of the trendiest ‘green’ flooring alternatives, but it’s not without its own set of problems. Western demand for the material is creating vast mono-cultures throughout Asia - and, of course, for the most part it needs to be imported, which has associated environmental costs. Bamboo is so popular as an eco-option that there are ethical suppliers to be found ( such as https:// www.mckayflooring.co.uk/sustainable-flooring/ ), but consumers need to do a bit of research to make sure that their purchase comes from a reputable source.


6. Plastic wood Recycled plastic decking and flooring is now becoming popular, and it can be a reasonably cheap option too. Like Millboard decking (see above), these sorts of products won’t ever rot and won’t need intensive maintenance either. Unlike Millboard decking, however, plastic decking is prone to UV fade and the product looks less authentic too. For tight budgets, though, plastic decking is a great substitute.


7. Soy


Soy doesn’t lend itself to being a like-for-like wood substitute, but is a worthy inclusion on this list, as it can be very useful in wood-based projects. Soy forms the basis of many eco-friendly alternatives to formaldehyde, paint stripper, glues and other solvents.


THE MILLBOARD COMPANY LTD


So, there you have it! Wood is not the only option, and with all of the above to choose from, you won’t have to compromise on quality, strength or aesthetic appeal, to complete your project without using forest-depleting timbers.


8. Cork


Cork is another brilliant multi-purpose eco-product with a broad range of applications. Cork is a type of bark that is harvested periodically with no ill- effect to the trees themselves. It grows rapidly and is found widely across the world, which lessens the impact of transporting it from country to country. Cork has gained traction as a trendy and ethical flooring material, and its waterproof and durable properties make it an excellent material for outdoor use.


TEL: 024 7643 9943 41


WWW.MILLBOARD.CO.UK


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