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posted: 8/17/2013 1:00 AM

New materials can be eco-friendly

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  • Formaldehyde-free plywood is better for the environment, experts say.

    Formaldehyde-free plywood is better for the environment, experts say.
    Courtesy of Columbia Forest Products


Besides reusing materials from deconstruction, you can go green with new products as well. Recycled materials and sustainably produced products can provide an eco-friendly touch.

Before buying, consider how much post-consumer recycled material is incorporated into a product. Percentage of recycled fibers, metals or glass content should be advertised by the manufacturer.

Some companies like to tell the origin story of their recycled materials: "People can say Skyy Vodka is in your countertop," along with the green glass from Heineken bottles and slabs of porcelain from a large manufacturer, says Carmine DeChiara, marketing director of Granite Transformations, which has its U.S. headquarters in Miramar, Fla.

You might find other benefits to recycled materials. For instance, recycled glass countertops are durable and can be installed over existing countertops, DeChiara says.

Just because a product is sustainable doesn't mean it's of high quality, though. "Homeowners should ask questions of their builders and contractors to make sure they are only using the safest and highest quality materials in their projects," says Joanna Beckman, marketing communications manager at Columbia Forest Products.

A little research goes a long way, especially when it comes to health concerns.

"More and more homeowners are thinking about the furnishings, materials and products they bring into their homes," Beckman says. One of those concerns is air quality.

"The urea formaldehyde in a plywood panel can off-gas formaldehyde in your home or office long after it has been fabricated into finished cabinets or millwork." Beckman recommends choosing formaldehyde-free products.

-- Alyssa Karas

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