Home, Green Home

by O'Rya Hyde-Keller

Walls and floors. They’re the basic building blocks of your home—and also some of the easiest parts of the house to make green. A recent boom in renewable, nontoxic materials means that you have lots of options if you want to tread lightly. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Floors
Bamboo: Because this woody grass grows so quickly, bamboo can be harvested year after year from the same plant, making it one of the most renewable—and beautiful—eco-flooring options on the market. $6 to $8/square foot; teragren.com

Marmoleum: Made from linseed oil, natural rosins, wood flour, and cork, this trademarked flooring is renewable and the ingredients are sustainably harvested. The result is a refined take on traditional linoleum. Starts at $4/square foot; www.forbolinoleumna.com

Recycled Metal Tiles: Made from recycled aluminum or brass, these tiles make for a safe, earth-friendly kitchen or bathroom alternative to vinyl tiles. The look: modern and urban. Available in polished, matte, or sandblasted. $35 to $70/square foot; www.ecofriendlyflooring.com

Paints
AFM SafeCoat: This paint brand offers everything you need to brighten your walls—paint, primer, sealer—without any of the nasty chemicals found in traditional paint products. SafeCoat products are free of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) as well as solvents, heavy metals, chemical residues, and formaldehyde. $32 to $42/gallon; www.afmsafecoat.com

Milk Paint: Made from milk protein and lime, this paint is based on a centuries-old formula. It contains no VOCs, plastics, or petroleum products and has a distinctive flat finish. $45.95/gallon (packaged as powder; just add water); www.milkpaint.com