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Paint can have many environmental drawbacks including a high use of solvents, which in one report by the US Environmental Protection Agency was found to increase the solvent level of inside air by as much as 5 times that of outside air. When choosing paint for green building always look for a low VOC (volatile organic compounds, the solvents) rating. Paint can also be made using other recycled materials.

Glass from recycled sources can be used within the paint (some paints can contain as much as 30% glass) as with other recycled materials this saves material added to landfills and saves energy producing new materials. We have used ECOS paint which is the highest specification from a green perspective, and not much more expensive.


Recycled rubber from sources such as car tyres (which the UK alone burns 40 million of each year) can be used in some areas of construction. Rubber can be added to asphalt surfaces on new roads.

Materials that can be sourced from recycled tyres include carpets, tiles and shock absorbent padding for children's play areas. Whole tyres can be used as a building material in their own right - see the section on bankshores, which are gabions made of tyres.

Tyres are placed and then filled with earth which is then compacted into the tire with the end result being a strong and durable building material. This type of material is regularly used in 'earth ship' buildings and has been found to offer good thermal mass and more resistance to fires then standard materials. See the Gabions and Bankshores articles.