Arjay’s Window Fashions exhibited in a “green” building show in Santa Barbara a few years ago and the questions asked by the attendees really made us think – when something is considered sustainable does that also mean it is green? And when someone is looking for something environmentally responsible, who’s environment are they concerned about – the environment inside their homes or outside their homes; or both.

     Sustainable window treatment
Source : Flickr User neetalparkh
Most of the questions at the show were directed at any window treatment made from bamboo because it seemed that the public consensus was that anything made from bamboo must be green.  Bamboo is technically a grass, grows rapidly from seed to harvest and has very little environmental impact at the point where it is grown – and replanting is not necessary because it grows right back after harvesting.  All of this sounds great until you take into consideration that the material originates in Asia [primarily China] and requires a tremendous amount of energy to actually get it here by way of container ship – leaving a substantial carbon footprint.  There are also the questionable labor practices in China to reflect on.

Your Home Environment

When considering what window products are most environmentally friendly we ask our clients if they are referring to their indoor environment or the outdoor environment.  Often times people are looking for healthy products that will not off-gas dangerous toxins onto their homes – in this case they are looking to protect their own environment. Examples of products that would not off-gas would be window treatments made from non PVC materials or GreenGuard Certified window coverings. Simply put, GreenGuard is an environmental certification program that ensures that building products meet rigorous comprehensive standards for low emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) into indoor air.  Arjay’s Window Fashions offers a variety of roller shade materials, shutters and blinds that are GreenGuard Certified. Ask your Arjay’s Designer about GreenGuard Certified products.

Responsible Sourcing & Manufacturing

When it is important to our clients that they have something organic in their windows like wood, we recommend looking to companies like Springs Window Fashions that use responsible forest management techniques like “sustainable yield forest management.” This means that the amount of wood harvested is far below the levels of growth; and because the wood is sourced and processed domestically, unnecessary energy is not wasted importing materials. There are also greater controls over the health and quality of the materials and finishes used in and on shutters and wood blinds sourced domestically. Springs Window Fashions line of residential window products is sold under their trade-name Graber and their wood line includes Traditions Wood Blinds and Wood Shutters.

Sustainability for Environmentally Friendly Window Coverings

What does “sustainable” mean when shopping for window coverings? Does it mean that the entire process of building the product is sustainable so that there is little waste in manufacturing like Springs uses in their operations? Or, does it mean that the finished product is sustainable because it requires little or no maintenance to sustain it after it is installed in your window? If it is the latter, you may want to consider engineered materials like faux shutters or blinds. Also called composite shutters and blinds, aside from the various processes used to build these faux products, the end result is an extremely durable product that is impervious to moisture and requires no maintenance. The word faux is a French word that means fake or false and is usually used to indicate that the product looks like real wood, but it is not.

Making The Right Decision

When looking for green, healthy and sustainable window fashions it may require some discussion with one of our Arjay’s Designers to clarify what these different definitions mean to you so that we can help point you toward the products that meet your health and environmental expectations. We are here to help you!

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