The material I’ve decided to take a look into is cork! Cork could be used as a building material of any kind. Like, rather than making an acrylic box to case an Arduino for a project, or a case for the project’s mechanisms as a whole, cork could be used and serve generally the same purpose. Given, cork isn’t going to be as strong as acrylic or a solid piece of wood, but it’s a good, sustainable alternative when the material doesn’t need to be stiff. Additionally, cork can absorb sound and is great under compression, so if there’s any part of a project that would need either sound absorbed or a good material to hold firm under compression, cork would be the one.
Cork is harvested from tree bark, specifically in Southwest Asia and Northeast Africa. Cork is sustainable because it can be carved from the bark on trees without the trees — trees that harvest cork can live up to 170 to 250 years, with a harvest period around once every decade. So, with that in mind, one tree can provide from 17–25 harvests of cork in its lifetime. Cork can luckily be easily bought online or local hardware stores or art supply stores, so no need to travel to Northeast Africa or Southwest Asia.
I’m not sure what my and Sophia’s project will be for the final, but there is potential use for cork in the project. Depending on what we decide, we could use the cork, like mentioned above, to stand firm under compression. For example, we could use a solenoid to trigger something, and use cork to absorb the bounce from the solenoid. We’ll have a better idea once we brainstorm our project, but I’d definitely be interested in using cork! It seems like a pretty useful material in general.