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10 Ways to Live a More Sustainable Life

Happy New Year to all our loyal clients and eco-loving friends! We are so excited to be entering 2017 with you. A new year promises a fresh start; opportunity for growth and change seems to burst from the seams on January 1 each year. And as the days pass rapidly by, the promise and opportunity also passes by in swift fashion. So often at the start of a new year, we make resolutions that are unattainable. We want to, but we just can’t do it 100% the first time around, and so we give up. This begs the question – is it really us failing with each resolution? Or could it possibly be the way we construct our resolutions and annual goals? I propose that we not run away from the large goal or resolution, but simply to break it down into much smaller, attainable goals that reflect back to us a feeling of success and completion with each small step.

This year, our goal is to live a more sustainable lifestyle both in the office and at home. On the whole, this broad stroke goal can quickly become overwhelming because there are so many avenues to take and so many ways that convenience could easily trump sustainable goals. So we break it down into smaller, more attainable goals. First we need to define sustainability. By most definitions, this is the act of consciously reducing our carbon footprint by altering methods of energy consumption, natural insulation, transportation, and the foods we choose to consume. Big, lofty definition, yes. But let’s begin with baby steps and break it down.

Here are 10 ways you can begin living a more sustainable life today:

  1. Recycling – We all know the old adage reduce, reuse, recycle. Seems easy, but it is far easier to ignore what this statement means. We must reduce. You can easily reduce unnecessary packaging. You can live a more minimalistic lifestyle to reduce clutter and waste. Reduce energy consumption. Reduce waste going to the landfill by composting particular kitchen waste or by recycling paper, plastic, and glass items. I plan to recycle at every opportunity by creating convenient collection areas throughout my home. Bathrooms, kitchen, and my home office will be the primary areas of collection. Lastly, let’s discuss how we can reuse. One way is discussed into more detail under #9. Additionally, you can use fabric grocery bags or buggy bags in most shopping situations. In Temecula, CA, grocers are being forced to convert to reusable bags or they will be charged $0.10 per plastic or paper bag in stores as regulated by Prop 67. You can buy particular foods in bulk and reuse storage containers at home. You can reuse other items by completely changing their use literally making treasure from trash.
  2. Lighting - I have begun upgrading traditional light bulbs in my home to Phillips Hue LED bulbs, which are recognized for their energy efficiency through the Energy Star rating. These must carry a minimum 3-year warranty (sweet!) and have a really cool vibe with all the color combinations! I personally love “concentration” for when my puzzle craving strikes again and “relax” for that wind down to a perfect sunset lighting. A great and fun way, to reduce energy consumption.
  3. Transportation – This can be a tricky one for many if public transportation isn’t an easily accessible option (think suburbs, small towns, and rural areas). However, this can also be an excuse. I am trying to optimize my driving routes when I run errands, and choosing to only go to the grocery store once a week. I began these practices in December and already see a change in my routine and my car mileage! If you want to be an overachiever, you may consider purchasing an electric hybrid vehicle, but that is not a baby step in my book and may not be an option for many.
  4. Cleaning Products – I am transitioning to natural cleaners. Many I will be or already am mixing at home. Others, I leave up to sustainable companies like Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyers, and Honest. I’ve also heard good things about Method. There is no need to take all the convenience out of life when trying to live more sustainably. Just make sure you are checking labels and making sure the companies stand behind what they purport through mission statements and marketing.
  5. Unplug – I am trying to unplug devices and small appliances when not in use or charging. There is no need for them to continue drawing power, no matter how negligible an amount it is. There is an alternate definition here, too, where we should take the time as humans to unplug. We need to step back from our constant need to tweet, Instagram, and text so that we can see and experience the world we are trying to save.
  6. Shipping – My best friend is a HUGE Amazon person. He orders gobs of things on the mega site each year simply because “it’s easier to do that than go to the store”. But while you’re paying pennies to have your paper towels delivered to your doorstep in two days or less, I have to question how much these practices will cost Mother Earth later down the road. Instead, I am currently working on converting him to shopping local. If you can’t bring yourself to break the Amazon habit, try using their Prime Pantry option. This allows you to shop for all the same items, but you have to wait until you fill the box before it ships. This would eliminate several unnecessary shipping adventures I dare say.
  7. Grow a garden & plant some trees – Directly combat your carbon footprint with these blessed vegetation creations. Plus garden fresh food tastes so much better than store bought! You can even fertilize your planted babies with the composting you’ve been doing from #1’s recycling methods.
  8. Water conservation – This one always ranks high on the list of ways to live a more sustainable life, but in developed countries, it seems to be a hard concept to master. Again, take baby steps. Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth until it’s time to rinse. Run your dishwasher during low use times of day (typically after 11 p.m. but check with your local utility). Wash clothes only when you have a full load. Shorten shower times or move to an every other day schedule of bathing. These are small steps but they add up to hundreds of gallons of water weekly.
  9. Quit Bottled Water – This one is important. Americans used approximately 50 billion plastic bottles of water last year. Less than 25% of these are recycled either because the user did not choose to recycle or because their local utility does not offer recycling options. Either way, over 38 billion water bottles go unrecycled each year. With the advent of insulated cups, there is no need to continue purchasing what really breaks down to glorified bottled tap water when you could stylishly keep your water handy in a reusable cup or thermos. Break the habit today. You’ll thank us later!
  10. Community - Join an environmental group in your community. This is a great way to meet new people who can give you other ideas on how to live a more sustainable life. Beachside communities often clean up their shorelines and help local wildlife through their environmental efforts. In landlocked cities, environmental groups pick up litter, plant trees, give community lectures, work on community gardens, and more to impact their local areas. If your community doesn’t have an environmental group. Consider launching one yourself!

We encourage you to begin taking your own baby steps and living a more sustainable life today. Let us know what steps you are taking and we will walk this path together. Cheers to you and yours this happy New Year! May 2017 be amazing for each of you!

 

 

Note: Any products or brands mentioned here are not promoted by AmCork and used purely as examples for living a more sustainable life. We are not suggesting, selling, or promoting any particular products or brands.

Stacked Stone Cork Wall Tiles

                    

Have you noticed our newest product, Stacked Stone cork sheets? Have you fallen in love with this product? I know I sure have! These completely textural cork stone wall panels are the newest offering from our cork wall tile inventory. Visually, this cork wall tile creates faux stone walls similar to a slate retaining wall or a stacked wood siding.

While the Stacked Stone cork sheets may look like stone or wood, it is actually made from recycled wine cork strips. The rugged depth and texture within each hand laid strip gives each faux stone tile sheet a natural feel.  This would be amazing as a statement wall around a fireplace or as a replacement for a headboard in the bedroom.

Cork is an amazing naturally occurring material that comes from Portugal in the SW Mediterranean eco-region. It comes from the cork oak, Quercus suber, which grows in abundance in this region. Only the outer bark of the tree is removed on a highly controlled harvesting schedule that allows the tree to produce cork over and over again for up to 250 years.

Cork is a natural thermal and acoustic insulator that will keep your tootsies warm and your ears from ringing. It is easy to clean and maintain and just as easy to install too! Cork is an effortless way to introduce a natural element to your home décor. It helps reduce airborne allergens and is mildew resistant.  

 Each cork bark product in our cork wall tile inventory is sold in a carton of two sheets covering approximately 12 square feet of wall space per carton. All of our cork products are backed by the GreenGuard certification that assures you that you are purchasing a low chemical emission product. Furthermore all cork sheets are guaranteed to last and be of good quality with our 25-year product warranty.   

Cork Flooring Focus: Floating Planks

AmCork offers two types of cork flooring tilesparquet tiles and floating planks. Today, we will discuss the benefits of cork floor floating planks. This flooring choice is designed to float over most uneven substrates and has an easy to install clock-n-lock snapping system. Our cork flooring floating planks are fit with a built-in acoustical cork underlayment. This naturally absorbs sounds typically associated with heavy footfalls and high heels. It is also a natural thermal insulator and will provide a temperate walking environment year round. Furthermore, your footsteps will also be cushioned, as the cork flooring acts as a natural shock absorber, showcasing its honeycombed cellular nature.

We proudly present over 20 different color and design options with our cork floor floating planks. Shown here, from left to right are: Sea Bark Cork Flooring, Iris Cork Flooring, Tropical Brown Cork Flooring, and Summer Cream Cork Flooring.

                       

Each of these unique options is shipped in cartons that will cover an average of 21 square feet. They contain 7 planks per carton. Use our handy calculator or peruse all of our floating cork flooring planks to find what suits your interior design style and what products you will need to complete your flooring upgrade. We have so many favorites; it’s hard to pick just one. Order a sample of your favorite cork flooring pattern or collection to see how this amazing flooring material will fit in your exiting décor.

Keeping your cork flooring floating planks clean is a breeze! Our cork flooring choices are factory finished to the highest of standards so that little time will be spent on cleaning and maintenance. All that is required to maintain a cork floor is a regular vacuuming and light cleaning with a damp mop. Ammonia-based cleaners or chemicals must not be used to clean the floor. A cork floor should be treated as any quality wood flooring. As durable as cork flooring is, it must be remembered that it is still a natural product. A well-maintained cork floor will last for decades. Depending on how much foot traffic the floor receives, you will need to reapply recommended polyurethane sealant approximately 7-10 years in average residential applications. This could be once every year or two in a busy retail location. Additionally, a quality doormat at the entrance should be used to help protect the cork floor from outside grit and sand. Cork, as a natural product, may change color when exposed to direct sunlight, so use blinds or curtains to minimize this effect.

Each of our products are backed by our 25-year warranty and are guaranteed as a low-emission product by our GreenGuard Certification. Contact our cork specialists with any questions you may have about our products or shop online 24/7. We just know that you will fall in love with this sustainable material and will want to incorporate it into all rooms of your home!

 

Fall 2016 Decorating Trends

Fall is all about comfort, layering, and lots of home cooking in my house. The season brings back memories of football games in the bleachers, hot cocoa in my mom’s kitchen, and holding hands on crisp autumn evenings. As an adult, fall begins the busy downward slope to the holidays, where every day is busier than the previous one. When I get home, all I want to do is take my shoes off, open a nice bottle of wine, and relax in the sanctuary we’ve created at home. Part of the sanctuary is our cork products. The comfort of the cork flooring cushioning each and every step is without a doubt one of my favorite things. The warmth and natural feel where cork wall tiles have been installed Is like a hug from your room. It’s inviting and relaxing; a true sanctuary or oasis.

Our Pumpkin Cork Wall Tile is the epitome of fall in color palette, but can easily be married into your existing interior decorating trends year around. The rich, textured pattern is laced with an inky black that beautifully compliments the deeply spiced pumpkin color. It would be handsome in a library or study, as well as in your master bathroom or mudroom. Additionally, our Night Cork Wall Tile is another rich accompaniment to your home décor in the same rooms. A tri-tone color palette of varying shades of chocolate brown are meshed together in this unique cork wall tile. It also makes a nice inset in cabinet facing in your kitchen or bathroom. Either color of cork wall tile could be layered with a lovely cream or maroon in your home or office to complete the look.

In contrast to our selection of rich and unique color palette selections for the walls this fall, we foresee a lighter, more neutral choice for fall flooring trends. We love the Tropical White, Whitewater, and Snow cork flooring options. For a little flair, we suggest the Speckled Cork Tiles with a neutral color spattered with ebony granules throughout. Each of these options can be incorporated into your existing décor or be a launching pad for a complete room overhaul. Unsure how they would fit in your existing décor? Order a sample of your choice today and “try us on” at home.

We encourage you to reach out to us if you have questions about our products or how to install. We offer support from beginning to end. With our online shopping, you can shop at any time of the day or night. We won’t make fun of your fuzzy slippers – we promise! All of our cork products are back by our 25 year warranty and are GreenGuard certified as low emission products assuring you that what you are bringing into your home or office is good for you and good for the environment!

The Health of Your Home

The Harvard Gazette recently published an article concerning the health of our indoor environments citing studies that show many of us spend upwards of 90% of our time indoors. That seems like a staggering figure until you break down the numbers. We approximated 7 hours of sleeping time, at home, indoors. Though I’m sure we would all love 8-9 hours, this is the average. Another 9 hours minimum is spent indoors at work. Leaving the last 5.5 hours to be spent having dinner and relaxing. This may take place at home, in a restaurant, or numerous entertainment venues. The last 2.5 hours of the day are perhaps spent outside, though the more likely scenario is that these remaining hours are spent travelling to and from each of these areas of our day. Man… we really need to get outside more!

The article published by Harvard Gazette stated that there are over “80,000 chemicals in commercial use in the United States, [and that] less than 15% have health data available.” Another study released by the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health this past May, led by assistant professor Joe Allen, “found that women with elevated levels of common flame-retardant chemicals in their blood may be at a higher risk for thyroid disease, and that the risk may be significantly higher among postmenopausal women.” This is one example of how our bodies and our health are impacted by these chemicals. Yet, we have no idea how the additional 65,000 chemicals found in our indoor environments and construction affect our health. Friends, this is truly frightening.

At AmCork, we work hard to bring a product that in beneficial and does less harm than good for both the indoor and outdoor environments. We pride ourselves in leading the battle cry and being able to offer a solution when our hearts break over studies such as this.

Cork is a clean material. It is naturally resistant to allergens and can help create a hypo-allergenic environment whenever installed. It is ideal in healthcare environments and provides the same benefits when installed in your home or office. Don’t think of a cold and sterile material when you hear the words "healthcare environment." No, cork is warm, comforting, and inviting, like a good hug. It literally cushions your steps when installed as a flooring material. It is also used as acoustic and natural insulation.  This can be achieved by installing cork wall or ceiling tiles, , or as natural insulation in walls or as an underlayment when paired with other materials.

Furthermore, cork continues to outshine all other materials with regard to its environmental aspect. Just as it is good for interior environments wherever installed, it is also good for Mother Earth. Cork improves its carbon footprint rather than causing more harm to the environment. It is a naturally renewable resource that is harvested by hand without harming or cutting down the tree. In fact, cork can be harvested approximately 25 times over a 250 year lifespan of each tree. Cork forests also protect numerous endangered species in the Mediterranean region, which, without cork forests, would perish.

As you can see, we could (and will) go on and on about the benefits of cork. There is a reason we fell in love with this material decades ago. We would love to introduce you to the world of cork and its amazing advantages, especially considering you are probably one of the millions who spend at least 90% of your day indoors. Let us help you create an oasis that you know will be good for you and good for Mother Earth.

AmCork & LEED Certification


The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building.

Over the past several years, “sustainability” has become an important attribute of many new buildings – commercial and residential.  The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), in partnership with other organizations, has developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™.  The LEED Green Building Rating will help professionals to improve the quality of buildings and their impact on the environment.  AmCork offers products that are functional, cost effective and have no harmful effects for humans or the environment.  We strive to make a difference by committing to environment sustainability.  

AmCork products have the following product attributes that could contribute to a LEED building certification:

Cork Wall and Floor Tiles

contain between 84% and 93% (by weight) post-industrial recycled content in the form of granulated cork and/or broken cork


Cork Floating Floors

contain between 21% and 23% (by weight) post-industrial recycled content in the form of granulated cork and/or broken cork


Cork Underlayment

contain between 90% (by weight) post-industrial recycled content in the form of granulated cork. Cork is a rapidly renewable material (as defined by LEED, these materials have less than a 10 year growth cycle)

Agglomerated cork is certified FSC Controlled Wood – SA-CW-002408.

Cork Floating Floors are certified FSC Mixed Credit – SA-COC-002408.


LEEDS Credits:


Materials & Resources

Points

MR Credit 3.1

Materials Reuse 5%

1

MR Credit 3.2

Materials Reuse 10%

Cork floating floors can be re-used for interior installations

1+1

MR Credit 4.1

Recycled content 10% (post-consumer + ½ pre-consumer)

1


Materials & Resources

Points

MR Credit 4.2

Recycled content 20% (post-consumer + ½ pre-consumer)

Use materials with recycled content such that the sum of the post-consumer recycled content plus ½ the post-industrial recycled content constitutes at least 10% and/or 20% of the total value of the materials in the project.

1+1

MR Credit 6.0

Rapidly Renewable Resources

Use rapidly renewable building materials and products (made from plants that are typically harvested within a ten-year cycle or shorter) for 2.5% of the total value of all building materials and products used in the project.

1

MR Credit 7.0

Certified Wood

Use a minimum of 50% of wood-based materials and products, which are certified in accordance with the Forest Stewardship Council’s (FSC) Principles and Criteria, for wood building components.

1


Indoor Environmental Quality

Points

EQ Credit 4.1

Low-Emitting Materials: Adhesives & Sealers

1

EQ Credit 4.2

Low-Emitting Materials: Paints & Coatings

The VOC content of adhesives, sealants, paints and coatings used must be less than the current VOC content limits of local Regulations.

1

EQ Credit 4.4

Low-Emitting Materials: Composite Wood & Agrifiber Products

Composite wood and agrifiber products used on the interior of the building shall contain no added urea-formaldehyde resins.

1


Innovation and Design Process

Points

ID Credit 1-1.4

Innovation in Design

Taking advantage of the unique natural cellular structure and properties of cork, achieve high ratings in: energy efficiency (thermal insulation); comfort (sound transmission reduction); health benefits (elasticity and hypoallergenic), etc.

1-4

Memorial Day Sale is ON!

Our super spectacular Memorial Day Sale is officially on and in full swing on our amazing cork wall tiles and ceiling tiles! Simply fill up your shopping basket with our cork products, then use coupon code DISCOUNT15 in the check out area. Pricing will be adjusted at that time. With all this awesome savings going on, maybe you should add another cork project to your list... statement wall anyone? 

As if we haven't told you time and again, cork is good for you and good for the environment. Now you can say that cork is good for your pocketbook too with this great savings opportunity! Reach out to our cork experts with any questions you may have. Otherwise, what are you still doing here?! Get to shopping!

Summer Decorating Trends: Brighter is Better

We were recently asked to describe summer decorating trends with one word. Without a doubt that word would be COLOR. And again, I say COLOR. Welcome the sultry heat of the season with an umbrella drink in one hand and a paint brush soaked with an impassioned color in the other. Check out our Summer decorating ideas below!

Several fun color palettes we are completely crushing on this summer are blushing rouge and cream, emerald green and obsidian black, and chartreuse and cork with a crisp white trim. This is not the time of year to be shy with your color choices. In fact, it’s the one time of year that anything goes so far as it is bright and bold.

To begin, let’s explore a room decorated in blushing rouge and cream. This is an elegant extension of the 2016 pantone family, which, as you remember, is Rose Quartz and Serenity; an effortless blending of two shades as the “color of the year”. The poignant pop of color in the room is then mellowed by the crisp and lively cream. The blush is best suited in heftier pieces like the armchairs pictured below, whereas the cream can be showcased on the walls or, better yet, with our Summer Cream Cork Flooring planks. Increase the luxuriousness of the room with simple gold accents.

Next up is the beautiful pairing of emerald green and obsidian black or linen white. We love the contemporary room shown below left on Houzz. It is modern day preppy. Add a couple of vases with red roses or peonies to complete the look. We also love the indoor garden feeling invoked by the photo on the right. Two starkly different decorating motifs using similar emerald greens. No matter what - express yourself.

                    

Lastly, we pair another member of the green family, chartreuse, with the quintessential summer neutral, cork. The vibrancy of the chartreuse is tempered with the natural cork and a crisp white trim in your room of choice. Our suggestions would be either our Coral Cork Tiles for your flooring needs or our Rain Cork Wall Tiles to add texture and a focal point to the walls. These more permanent renovations can be easily paired with other color choices and materials as trends and tastes change in the future. We recommend mixed metals for your fixtures and accessories.

          

Whatever you choose, be sure to bring natural elements into your home. We firmly stand behind our cork products. We feel that cork does more than decorate a room; it enriches it with boundless health benefits to both you and our planet. This renewable material increases the value of your property while also meeting many requirements for eco-friendly certifications. Speak with one of our cork experts today or place your order now with our easy-to-use online shopping store.

photos from houzz, housebeautiful and hgtv

Trend Alert: Patterned Floors

Patterned tile flooring is taking a trendy turn this spring and we have several pairing suggestions. We love the traditional checkerboard pattern as well as more intricate designs.

            

Summer Cream Cork Flooring and Summer Brown Cork Flooring – The small, granular texture of these flooring selections easily blend together and open up any room. The lovely, warm tones of the Summer Brown are cooled by the Summer Cream like delicious whipped cream.

Tropical White Cork Flooring and Tropical Brown Cork Flooring – These two flooring options lend to a more contemporary feel, and can resemble planks of hardwood flooring. Again, the patterns are meant to complement each other. The chocolate brown and winter white cork flooring brings warmth and luxury wherever it is installed. We love the idea of using these with a dramatic pattern in a formal dining room, master bedroom, or formal living space where square footage is in your favor.

Summer Cork Tiles and Opal Cork Tiles – These flooring options are reminiscent of traditional cork flooring dating back to the early 1900’s; the kind of which Frank Lloyd Wright was so fond. If you are remodeling a historical home or want to bring back the authenticity of a turn of the century public library, we suggest this pairing. Granulated design and texture are showcased in this golden tan and creamy white selection.

Have you installed more than one selection of our cork flooring and successfully paired them together? If so, we would love to know. As far as cork flooring ideas & pattern possibilities, the only limitations are the ones you put upon yourself. Good luck with all your floor tile pattern ideas! We look forward to hearing how you have integrated cork into your lives!

Welcome our Newest Cork Wall Tiles

                    

Have you taken a moment to view our newest additions to our Cork Wall Tile inventory? Well, if you haven't, let me be the first to say that they are stunning! Don't have a creative bone in your body, but want to stay on point with cutting decor trends? We've got you covered. Check our our designer accent cork wall panels: 3D Blocks, Black Rivers, and White Rivers. These cork panels are simply to die for! The linear design easily translates into most environments and is perfect for statement walls, back splashes, or cabinet inlay to give a few ideas. Truly, their use is limited only by your needs and desires. Each carton contains 10 tiles and will cover just over 37 square feet of real estate.

As with all of our products, these Designer Accent Cork Panels are backed by our 25 year warranty and are certified for low chemical emissions with the GreenGuard Gold standard. Contact our design pros to make your order today or for assistance with more detailed installation questions. Eco friendly décor never looked so good!