There are lots of truly sustainable materials on the market today; and ten times more that only claim to be “eco friendly”, “green” or “healthy”, but are not. Most of us have very busy lives, so relying on labels to help us make green choices is alluring. Even so, we should only give labels and claims partial influence when making choices. Ultimately, making the right choice requires a thinking process, an active learning more than anything else. For example, at Greenovations we took on a new counter –top material with Squak Mountain Stone. ( http://www.seacoastgreenovations.com/products/squak-mountain-stone.aspx) We love this material. It is beautiful, easy to work with and durable. As well, it is an excellent alternative to 100% quarried materials. It is also an excellent alternative to poured concrete counters made from Portland cement. At the same time, it does use cement, a very energy intensive material.
In a recent discussion with a local wood worker, he pointed out that wood the countertops he is making with an epoxy coating and urethane finish are just as friendly to the earth as Squak, despite the chemicals he is using to coat the reclaimed wood the counters are made from. He’s probably right. But plenty of people don’t want wood counters. In fact, poured concrete is a hot new trend in kitchen design and Squak appeals to just the same tastes. So I explained to my friend that Squak Mountain works with a low-carbon cement that contains a binder which creates 2/3 fewer carbon emissions than Portland cement. Squak Mountain is also made of more than 50% recycled material. This is a far more sustainable composition than 100% Portland cement countertops. The point is that the best sustainability choices are often the result of an educated exchange of ideas. That doesn’t mean you must have a conversation with someone to make a good choice. What it means is that there is no silver bullet for green and that the best choices come from weighing and measuring the qualities of good materials with an educated thinking process.