For many, building their own home from scratch is a lifelong dream, though most don't rush to use natural building materials. Yet when we take a close look at the more than 1.7 million houses made of wood, steel and concrete foundations each year, a troubling picture emerges. The same materials used to construct those houses could also be used to heat about 10 million existing homes. Traditional home-building processes place a heavy burden on the natural environment and perpetuate the use of non-clean burning fuels, non-recyclable materials and intense contributions to pollution. Now, as green energy sources like wind, water and sun, the world is seeing an influx in utilizing green materials in construction. Rock slabs keep homes tightly insulated by generating thermal mass and absorbing cold, straw bales are energy efficient and sturdy blocks for foundations, and bamboo is fashionable and unrelentingly strong. Take for example villagers' homes from "Lord Of The Rings"—the grass roofs, known as Earth-covered homes, are naturally insulated, sound-proof and fire-resistant.
These materials are becoming more available, affordable and prevalent. Not only do these natural substances help eliminate unnecessary waste, they help boost the economy seeing as these materials are often locally sourced. Check out this playlist to get the basics on the small material changes we can make to leave a lasting impact on the world.