Eco-Experts: Hazards of Vinyl Siding, Finding Lamp Oil Alternatives, Smoothtop Range Cleaners and Natural Fibers

Answers to your questions about house siding, oil lamps, smoothtop range cleaners and natural fibers.

| May/June 2001

  • Decorative olive oil lamps are paraffin alternatives that have lit homes for more than 2,000 years. Eco Choices
  • Tencel, a cellulosic fiber made from wood, is an environmentally friendly alternative to natural fibers.
  • Exterior siding made of river-recovered cypress is a beautiful, earth friendly option. Goodwin Heart Pine Company

House siding

I’m contemplating vinyl siding for the exterior of my home. It has a sleek, new look—the neighborhood standard for home exteriors (and return on my remodeling dollar)—and it never needs painting. What are the hazards of vinyl siding, and do you think they outweigh practical reasons for choosing it?

Gary L. McClelland, Fort Wayne, IN 

We need to do something with the exterior walls of our hundred-year-old house. We don’t know which is the best environmental alternative. Should we paint, which means an annual event, or install siding? Our choices for siding seem to be vinyl plastic or aluminum that is coated in enamel or PVC paint. Are there other alternatives?

Sharon Zayac, Riverton, IL

There are more types of siding than most of us know. Here is a summary from the Better Business Bureau, augmented with a few discoveries of my own.

Vinyl siding is made from 100 percent polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a toxic plastic. The color is uniform through­out, so scratches are not a problem, and it will last forever because it is not biodegradable.

Wood siding is the most widely used residential siding. Wood is renewable and biodegradable, but it must be maintained with paints or finishes that are generally toxic. Look for plant-based paints, which are safer than most (see page 60). I used natural paint on exterior wood siding in 1990, and it still looks good. Because wood is a porous, organic material that absorbs and gives off moisture, it may deteriorate over time if not properly maintained.

Wood siding comes in many forms. For information on siding made from old barn wood, visit Aged Woods or Singing Saw Woodworks. For salvaged wood try Goodwin Heart Pine.

12/19/2013 8:53:29 AM

FYI… Firefly Fuel offers a as well as a

Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds