Designer Insulation – insulation made from designer jeans
Who knew jeans were for more than making your backside look bootylicious! From the Edmonton Sun…
“The right jeans can do so much for a tush.
The search for the perfect jeans is an elusive but rewarding one for the simple reason that the right pair can produce small miracles: They lift, they curve, they slim, they tone, they plump the rump and now they warm the hump.
Jeans and scraps of denim are being recycled to produce home insulation that’s touted as an environmentally safe and sustainable alternative to the more carbon-intensive cotton-candy-pink batting.
The idea is gaining steam among green-minded celebs like Entourage star Adrien Grenier who used the cotton fibre insulation UltraTouch, when building his new home in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Bootylicious babes such as Lindsay Lohan, Sheryl Crow and Gwen Stefani also backed the product made by Bonded Logic last spring when they donated their, ahem, “no doubt” designer jeans to a Habitat for Humanity project in New York, organized by the Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation’s GIVE (Get Involved Volunteer Exceed) campaign.
When trying to come up with a promotional campaign for a store opening at Conestoga Mall in Waterloo, Ont., Lena Burek found inspiration in the idea and organized a denim drive last summer that collected 2,000 pairs of jeans– double their original goal — that will help insulate a three-bedroom, 1,000-sq.-ft. (93 sq. metre) Habitat for Humanity home in southwestern Ontario.
“It was beautiful,” said the marketing director. “It promoted environmentally sound initiatives and was socially responsible as well.”
Unlike fibreglass or mineral wool insulation, the natural cotton fibre doesn’t irritate or itch the skin and is easier to handle. Bonded Logic says the insulation is 100% recyclable, which reduces landfill waste. About 85% of the insulation is also made from recycled cotton, mostly post-industrial material from denim manufacturers, added Les Friesen, manager of Twin Maple Marketing in B.C., the only distributor of the product in Canada. While used jeans are accepted, removing buttons, zippers and accessories can be labour intensive.
Friesen built his own home — a whopping six-bedroom, 6,500-sq.-ft. (600 sq. metre) house in B.C. — using cotton fibre and lined it with a reflective foil.
“To date, I haven’t had to turn on the heat,” he said. “The house hasn’t gone below 21 C.”
UltraTouch is class-A fire rated, formaldehyde-free, mould and mildew-resistant, and eligible for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) credits, which set the benchmark on high-performance green buildings.
While a novel idea, Dominique Derome, an architect and professor of building engineering at Concordia University, said organic materials like cotton fibre, cellulose or newspaper and sheep wool has its drawbacks.
“The main problem with this form of insulation is it can absorb and hold a lot of water,” Derome said. “The risk of water damage is greater than other families of insulation.”
UltraTouch is treated with a non-toxic borate solution making it mould resistant, but Derome points that jeans are quicker to absorb moisture than glass, from which fibreglass is made, and polystyrene or Styrofoam insulation.
Environmentally, fibreglass and foam may be stronger and more stable, but they also take more energy to produce, she added, since sand has to be melted, made into glass, and then into fibreglass.
Cotton fibres also make for denser insulation, Friesen said, giving it superior sound barrier qualities. It’s also 30% to 50% more expensive than conventional insulation, he said, but that hasn’t deterred green-minded builders.
“There’s been about a 25% growth in interest over the year.”
But UltraTouch hasn’t received its stamp of approval in Canada yet and has to pass one last corrosivity test before it’s officially recognized by the National Building Code of Canada. The Canadian Habitat for Humanity project is stalled until Friesen gets the last letter of compliance, which is expected this month. In the meantime, builders can apply to their local building inspectors for individual use.
Last year, a medical centre in New Jersey paid the 50% premium and opted for jean insulation when building its newest addition, saying fibreglass contains formaldehyde, a toxin and carcinogen which can trigger allergies.
As for which celebrity jeans made it into which walls? If only walls could talk … “