The Health Benefits of Earth Bag and Straw Bale Construction -Guest Article-

Here’s a guest article by Paige Taylor. Paige is a creative writer from the University of Texas El Paso. As an aspiring writer she specializes in writing about travel detestations and tourism. I hope you enjoy her perspective. If you too would like to write a guest article for us, please let me know. Here’s Paige’s article…

As more and more people continue to take on holistic lifestyles, it seems the benefits of doing so continue to grow in awareness. As has been shown through many examples, when it comes to the actual building process, using materials such as earth bags and straw bale can not only keep sustainability at a maximum, but also come at a low cost, while still giving the option of a traditional or designs that defy conventionality. What is not as well known, however, is that using an option like earth bags for building can cut down the risk of health problems that may be present in some older building structures.

Many people looking into earth bag building may be on the fence for different reasons such as cost, time, or just to gain more knowledge. For some that may be interested while currently living in some older homes, a switch to using straw bale earth bags can be particularly beneficial to health and sustainability at the same time. The health benefits of sustainable building through use of earth bags or straw bale can prevent people from minor to major health risks.

The use of straw bale is certainly a departure from some of the toxins that may be present in traditional forms of building and construction; this could include the use of common paints, which are high in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s). VOC’s are common to lead to health risks like asthma and other respiratory problems.

Another example of use of earth bags as a healthy home substitution could involve the fact that many people in older homes are seeing some problems with insulation in their homes, possibly putting them at risk of health problems such as nausea or dizziness.

Straw bale building is beginning to gain great notoriety in a number of different areas. For example, in a high humid area such as Houston, TX using straw bale to build can ensure no overheating or constant sweating occurs at home. With the right moisture control techniques, a straw bale house would certainly be an upgrade over an energy consuming Houston apartment or home.

These are just a few of the health risks that may be present in traditional construction and building styles as opposed to earth bag or straw bale buliding. Using organic, earth made materials can not only do wonders in sustainability and helping the carbon footprint, but also in ensuring the best possible home in regards to health risks.

5 Responses to The Health Benefits of Earth Bag and Straw Bale Construction -Guest Article-

  1. Geoff Clark Wed, January 27, 2016 at 3:05 pm #

    I had not heard of earth bag or straw bale construction until I read this post. I live in Northern California and am closing in on our next home. Do you have any information or contacts on this type of construction in my area? It may be a better way to support some health issues that my kids have.
    thanks

  2. Andrew Morrison
    Andrew Morrison Wed, January 27, 2016 at 6:45 pm #

    Hi Geoff. Thanks for your message. I will be teaching a hands-on workshop in Brownsville, CA this July. That would be a great way to learn more about the process and the benefits for your family. You can learn more about that class here. If you can’t join us at the workshop, I suggest you contact the folks at the California Straw Builders Association (CASBA) for more information local to you. Hope to see you in July!

  3. Geoff Clark Fri, February 5, 2016 at 3:08 pm #

    Thanks for the follow up information and workshop date.
    Geoff

  4. rocky Mon, May 9, 2016 at 5:21 pm #

    I am considering insulating my attic. I am reading about the pitfall of fiberglass bats and cellulose, i.e. carcenogenic. My roofs leaks from time to time. I understand strawbale is subject to molding. With my with accassional leaks, does that rule out strawbale for me? Are there any other health hazards I should be aware of before going this route?

  5. Andrew Morrison
    Andrew Morrison Wed, May 18, 2016 at 8:49 am #

    Hi Rocky. I would not recommend straw bales in your attic. They are extremely heavy when compared with other insulation materials and so you would need to increase the strength of your framing to handle them. Further the leaks would be damaging to the bales. The best option would be to 1) find and repair the roof leaks (this should be first and foremost) and 2) install Roxul insulation. It is lightweight, can handle moisture, and has quality insulation value all while being non toxic.

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