I’m not an expert at building anything, but I would use old wood that would otherwise be thrown away. When I was little my family moved into a new house and there was this wooden paneling in my room that I thought was hideous, so we took it down and used it to built a playhouse in the backyard.
Something I’ve always wanted to do is build a wall out of old bottles, so you could try that too. Just collect old bottles and cement them together. That would look pretty cool too (at least in my opinion).
Newspapers are, unknown to a lot of people, great insulators. They trap heat well, which is actually why you’ll see some homeless people stuff their jackets with it. So if you want to keep the playhouse warm during colder winter months you could line the walls with newspaper. If you do that, they could also draw all over the walls in there instead of in your house and easily replace it!
The best way to build an eco friendly playhouse is to start with recycled materials. If you want to build the playhouse out of wood Home Depot has some great recycled wood options. If you want something more temporary you can use cardboard, cans, and other recycled materials to build the playhouse. The links below give some great step by step instructions for the cardboard playhouse.
When preparing to build an eco-friendly playhouse for kids it is important to decide what features are important for eco-friendliness. First, I would consider thinking outside the box of the “normal” idea of a playhouse because now is your chance to shape your kid’s interaction with the environment and sustainable living. Remember a playhouse can be a great teaching tool: so you can include things like a green roof, rain collection, food production, and alternative energy. Inclusion of these designs doesn’t have to be super technical. For example including rain collection is as simple as attaching a gutter system to a recycled bottle or watering can that the kids can use to measure the amount of rain fall and water plants. Incorporating living elements into the playhouse would be a great way to keep your kids connected with the environment. Therefore you could build small planters under the windows for herbs like oregano, sage, or basil. This gives your kids the opportunity to tend to nature and take pride in watching their plants grow. Alternative energy can be as simple as using solar powered lighting that turns on when it is dark outside like many outdoor lights are already designed to do. Now the green roof is a little trickier to build but can be done in a simplified version by growing moss or another turf on top of a recycled metal, plastic, or slate roof with a gentle slope.
Use bamboo, it’s a very renewable resource, and it looks great. I’ve attached a link to a site with bamboo building tips. Also, try to use recycled or pre-used materials and furniture rather than buying and consuming new things.
I just want to reiterate what has been said above—using recycled materials is an excellent way to go. Here in Portland, Oregon we have a great resource in The ReBuilding Center, a non-profit organization that accepts donations of used building and remodeling materials—everything from old cabinets and toilets to tiles and windows. Customers can use these materials in their own building and home improvement projects. Look around for similar resources in your own area.
Another option would be to model the playhouse after an Earthship, a very cool, off-the-grid building model for homes that is constructed primarily out of recycled materials (aluminum can walls and windows, recycled tire foundations, etc.). Not only are Earthships ecofriendly, but they also use passive heating and cooling principles that would help moderate temperature in the playhouse throughout the year. Check out the links below for more information.
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