Celebrate Earth Day with Natural Sound Absorbing Materials

April 22nd, 2024 is Earth Day, a time to reflect on everything our planet gives us and commit to protecting our environment now and into the future. Some people plant trees, others clean up litter, and many pledge to lead more eco-conscious lives in honor of the occasion.

This year, we’re spreading the word about natural sound absorbing materials to ring in Earth Day. Natural materials can be just as effective as processed products, but are far better for our planet.

Here, we’ll discuss the importance of acoustic absorption and explain why using a natural material is crucial in the fight against pollution and climate change. Then, we’ll share some of nature’s best sound absorbers to help you make eco-conscious choices on your next soundproofing project.

The Importance of Natural Sound Absorbing Materials

Along with being kind to the planet, we should all strive to be kind to our neighbors. Outfitting your business, school, or hospital with sound absorbing materials prevents noise transfer to outside spaces. It can also help stop sound from getting in if you work in a loud area.

Many reach for synthetic materials for their soundproofing and sound absorbing needs as they’re readily available. But many natural materials are also effective sound absorbers and are far better for our environment, including:

  • Hemp
  • Coconuts and coir (their outer husks)
  • Date palm
  • Jute (a kind of natural fiber derived from flowers)
  • Kapok (a tropical tree native to Mexico)
  • Sugarcane bagasse (a byproduct of processing sugar)


Natural materials such as these present a promising alternative to modern sound absorbing solutions. Their wide adoption is one part of the contemporary puzzle of building better, more environmentally friendly buildings—and the Earth would certainly thank us if we used more of them.

Celebrating Earth Day with Eco-Friendly Choices

Earth Day has been promoting sustainability and environmental protection for over 50 years. First held in 1970, the campaign has grown into a worldwide phenomenon that has:

  • Planted hundreds of millions of trees
  • Funded eco-conscious education in almost 150 countries
  • Handed out 7 billion grants to make schools greener
  • Cleaned up countless tons of litter with the helping hands of over 36 million volunteers

Natural materials are the soundproofing industry’s way of getting involved with Earth Day. Natural sound absorbing materials not only help you create a quieter space, but many are also carbon-negative. Plants thrive on carbon dioxide (CO2) and, like the sound they absorb after being harvested, suck up the deleterious greenhouse gas as they grow large and strong.

Types of Natural Sound Absorbing Materials

There are many natural sound absorbing materials native to different areas around the globe. Over the course of history, humans likely used whatever was in their immediate vicinity to try and keep sound contained within their walls. Through this trial and error, we’ve come to identify the most effective natural material available, three of which include:

  • Acoustik Underlay (Recycled Tires) – At Acoustical Surfaces, we focus on innovative solutions like Acoustik Underlay, which is made from recycled tires. This material not only demonstrates superior performance in both Sound Transmission Class (STC) and Impact Insulation Class (IIC) but also addresses environmental concerns by reducing tire burning and landfill waste. Its high performance ratings make it an exceptional choice for soundproofing, surpassing many traditional materials.

  • WoolNoise reduction coefficient (NRC) is another effective way of measuring a material’s sound absorbing potential. Studies have shown wool to boast an NRC above 0.4, which puts it in the same range as many commercially available sound absorbing ceiling tiles and outpaces similar, competitive products such as carpeting.
  • Hemp – Hemp is a versatile plant that can be woven into clothing, braided into rope, or even made into sound absorbing cement blocks. When the sound absorbing potential of hemp cement was tested against a one kHz noise, it was found to absorb around 80% of all sound attempting to sneak through its surface.

Recycled Sound Absorbing Materials

Using natural materials isn’t the only way to greenify your sound absorbing solutions this Earth Day. There are also a variety of recycled sound absorbing materials available that effectively contain noise while reusing items that might otherwise become waste. Two popular recycled sound absorbers are:

  • UltraTouch™ Recycled Denim Insulation – Who’d have imagined your old jeans could be upcycled into sound insulation? Ultratouch boasts an NRC of 1.15 across all frequencies, contains no harmful particulates to get into your air, and takes minimal energy to produce—meaning it’s a premier choice for anyone seeking insulation that’s both extremely effective and explicitly eco-friendly.
  • Echo Eliminator Acoustical Panels – These versatile sound absorbing panels can be affixed to your wall or ceiling to keep noise boxed into a space. They’re specifically designed to dampen the reverberation of echoing noise and are made from recycled cotton—saving countless articles of clothing and other fabric items from ending up in landfills.

Contact us to find your perfect acoustical fit today!

Benefits of Using Natural Materials for Sound Absorption

The primary benefit of using natural and recycled materials for sound absorption and reducing sound transmission— is obvious: it’s simply better for the environment. Synthetics take a lot of energy to manufacture and often create harmful pollutants in the process. Meanwhile, natural and recycled sound absorbers are made from existing or carbon-negative materials that help restore a greener, healthier planet

Another, less evident upside is improved air quality. Wool sound insulation, for instance, has been shown to reduce the amount of formaldehyde circulating within buildings. Likewise, UltraTouch™ Recycled Denim Insulation recently surpassed Environmental Specification 1350 Indoor Air Pollutant testing standards in California. These tests are extremely stringent as they safeguard the state’s children by determining what materials can and can’t be used to construct schools.

Finally, the aesthetic and functional advantages of natural sound absorbing materials also help them outshine standard synthetics. Materials such as wool carpets, for instance, not only absorb sounds from footfalls and dragged furniture, but they also look and feel amazing underneath your feet.

Implementing Natural Sound Absorbing Materials in Your Space

Incorporating natural materials into your home’s sound absorbing solutions is easier than you may think. Woven hemp tapestries, for instance, can function as effective sound absorbers when affixed to walls—especially when they’re entirely covered.

It’s also simple to incorporate natural sound energy absorbers into commercial spaces. Take cork as an example. Not only will affixing it to the walls of nurseries, pediatric clinics, and schools help keep noise contained, but it gives children somewhere to pin their art and projects for the whole world to see.

Case Study: Using Wool to Insulate Homes in Northern Wales

With material and energy costs on the rise, properties in Gwynedd, northern Wales, are turning to a time-tested material to meet their insulation needs: sheep’s wool.

Using a hydraulic press, materials companies have been fusing wool fibers together to create thick, durable, and sound absorbing insulation panels for use in residential homes. The effort is one part of a larger decarbonization program meant to reduce construction’s environmental impact. For now, the scope is small, but Adra, the housing association behind the eco-conscious idea, hopes that more homeowners will retrofit their houses with the material after seeing its successful implementation across new properties in the area.

The Future of Soundproofing with Natural Materials

We’ve only just scratched the surface of different natural sound absorbers’ potential. Alongside the pioneering work being done with wool insulation in Wales, commercial spaces such as the new Brooklyn Heights Library are also experimenting with cork floors to maximize their sound absorbing potential.

These examples are but a fraction of the work and research currently being carried out on natural sound absorbing materials. There’s no telling what the future holds for the industry but, here at Acoustical Surfaces, we’re eagerly driving the next big advancements.

As such, you can always contact us with your noise concerns or to ask any more questions about natural materials. Remember, next time you’re faced with a sound issue, you can keep both your peace and the planet in mind when devising a solution.

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