Plastic-Free Construction (Almost)

We’re striving to avoid using petroleum based plastics entirely in the construction of this home. Today’s homes use a ton of plastic: vinyl siding, foam insulation, nylon carpeting, plastic lumber decks, PVC and PEX plumbing, and a whole lot more.

So far, we’ve only cheated in one area: the electrical wiring. image
The wire insulation and much of the electrical outlets are made of the bad stuff: plastic. We used metal cover plates, but of course those came packaged in a plastic bag. Even the screw for the cover plate was in it’s own tiny plastic bag within a bag. It’s seemingly unavoidable!

But in the not too distant past, our parents or grandparents wired their homes without using any plastic. Knob and tube wiring uses ceramic stand offs to separate wires. The wires were insulated with cotton and rubber.
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All of these materials are biodegradable and the metal wires can easily be recycled. While many plastic products can be recycled, it’s safe to say that very few plastic electrical boxes, and wire insulation gets recycled from renovation sites or demolished buildings.

It turns out these Mushroom Materials also have great dielectric strength, meaning that they make good insulators. Hmmm…