Don’t Go “green”, GO SUSTAINABLE!

Is Green Chemical Free?
The common assumption in answer to this question is yes.  People often associate “green” materials with hippies, hemp and Birkenstocks sandals.  They have misconceptions based on the idea that “green” is a concern of liberal-minded people and thus the manifestation of 1960’s philosophies.  Though there is some truth to these beliefs, they are for the most part wrong.  “Green” is for all people.  We all like durability.  We all like products that sustain.  In fact, talk to any “green” professional and most of us will tell you we prefer to avoid that five letter word, green.  Instead, we like terms like sustainability, which gets me back to the original question, but rephrased.
Is sustainable equal to chemical free?  The answer is no.  While the ultimate goal in sustainable building products is to go 100% natural, that’s not always possible…yet.  Take for instance an engineered floor from EcoTimber or Plyboo.   Creating engineered flooring with a natural and sustainable glue has yet to be done.   The natural glues just aren’t good enough.  Engineered floors using natural glues would simply fall apart to quickly to justify their cost (financially and environmentally)and thus require replacement; they would be, unsustainable.  With that said, EcoTimber and Plyboo make the healthiest, lowest VOC content glues available today for their wood and bamboo flooring, glues that also equal the highest standards of durability.  Just as importantly, their floors are built to last.
But, if it is 100% natural you must have, don’t lament.  There are great options out there, just not engineered wood.  Marmoleum Click tiles are one of the select 100% natural products out there.  Made using linseed oil, natural pigments and limestone dust to create the top sheet, chemical free wood flour for the core and cork for a backing, the only “glues” in the product are natural pine rosin.  While this rosin is not effective for materials such as engineered wood, it has proven over the decades to be perfect for Marmoleum tiles.   Another 100% natural product is Earth Weave carpets and rugs.  Unlike most manufacturers, Earth Weave continues to use only natural materials for the primary (cotton and, yes, hemp) and for the backing  (jute).  These two layers are glued together using an adhesive made from natural rubber.  Most carpet companies continue to use synthetic glue in addition to dyes, stains, formaldehyde and chemical treatments for stain protection, even with a wonderfully stain resistant material such as wool.   Earth Weave uses no dyes or stains, no formaldehyde and no chemical treatments.  Each rug gets its color from carefully blending the sheep hair of different colored sheep.
100% natural options are out there, but there is more to being green.   No product is completely free of the artificial world.  Does every green manufacturers use soy based lubricants in their machinery?  FSC certified paper in their offices?  Is one option not sustainable in the long run?  The point is to be in the know.  Don’t go green, GO SUSTAINABLE!

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