If you are planning to decorate, chances are you worry about the trees which have been sacrificed to provide your wallpaper?
Of course painting is always an option (VOC-free naturally) but a painted wall can lack the impact of wallpaper if you want to create a statement wall.
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Fortunately, there is now a new alternative available for eco-decorators in the shape of WallArt. These flexible 3D wall panels are made from bagasse, the fibrous residue which is left from sugarcane stalks once the juice has been removed.
Until now, one of the main uses for bagasse has been the production of bio-fuel and it has been used to produce energy for sugar- producing factories.
It is also used to make a range of eco-friendly products such as disposable plates and dishes (rather than styrofoam) but energy experts say that today’s technology would allow many countries to produce cheap electricity from the residue.
But it is now also being used as the base for WallArt and given that it is 100% recycled and completely biodegradable, it is obviously a much smarter option than wallpaper – and has a much longer life.
WallArt has rapidly become a popular choice with interior designers in Europe both for domestic and commercial properties and can be painted in the colour of your choice.
Better yet, it can easily be installed by any competent DIY decorator. The panels are simply glued to a flat, clean surface and can then be painted if desired.
For smaller areas, the panels can be easily cut with a jigsaw and then the edge sanded down for a smooth finish.
If you need any help with the project, there’s even a YouTube video which shows you how to install the panels step by step and it also includes a list of the tools needed.
Sugarcane is grown in around 90 countries, making it one of the world’s largest crops. Brazil is one of the largest producers and according to figures from the United Nations, it produced more than 670 million tonnes in 2009.
Sugarcane can be harvested up to three times every year and it is estimated that the total global harvest is well over one billion metric tonnes every year.
This means bagasse ranks as one of the most renewable sources available so environmentalists can enjoy a bold decorating effect without worrying about its cost to the planet.
It is an ideal alternative to traditional vinyl wallpaper – the majority of which generates toxic chemicals in production.
It’s also worth knowing that once you decide to replace it, vinyl is not biodegradable and some of the most popular wallpaper pastes on sale also contain toxins to inhibit mould growth.
At the moment, there is a range of around a dozen designs of WallArt but once more manufacturers spot the potential of bagasse, we can expect a growing choice of patterns.
The designs currently available tend to be more suited to a modern room but if you choose one of the simpler patterns it can be painted in traditional colours.
If, however, you feel the designs are too modern for your home then there are other eco-friendly wall coverings to choose from.
- Cork – well known for its warmth, texture and versatility
- Bamboo – crop regenerates in much less time than trees
- Natural Materials – such as hemp or jute
- Glass fibre wallcovering – uses natural quartz, dolomite and lime
If you want to paint your wall covering, then one of the best options available is from north east company, Earth Friendly Supplies – which won a coveted national recycling award in 2010.
Although some paints describe themselves as environmentally friendly, this simply means they have been produced using a more environmentally friendly manufacturing process than normal paint.
The difference with Earth Friendly Paint is that it is actually recycled paint – which would otherwise have gone to landfill.
The company collects tins or part-filled tins of paint which are being thrown away and then empties every drop from the tin before the container is recycled.
After being sorted according to paint type and colour, the old paint is then mixed with a stabiliser but the paint you buy is still at least 90% recycled. It is also packed in 100% recycled plastic pots.
It is estimated that at the moment, about 50 million litres of paint ends up at landfill every year and this figure could be dramatically reduced if more people opted for recycled paint.