Archive for November, 2009

The Growth of the Eco Movement and Eco Design

November 20th, 2009

There’s no question that society is becoming more environmentally conscious all the time. These days it’s not just ‘tree huggers’ and ‘eco warriors’ who want to find a more sustainable way of living. Nowadays, being green in your purchase decisions, such as buying eco furnishings and eco materials for your eco home, is seen as the responsible thing to do.
So where did it all start? How did environmentalism start to influence the products we buy and the growth of eco design in how products are made?

Well, you can go as far back as the early 19th century to find the philosophical roots of the eco movement.

George Perkins Marsh is considered to be one of America’s first environmentalists. He openly challenged the contemporary view that land was there to be cultivated, and leaving it wild was wasteful. Marsh, however, believed that humanity was merely a participant in the Earth’s ecosystem, and natural environments had to be preserved to maintain a healthy status quo.

In Europe the eco movement started due to more practical reasons. The Industrial Revolution brought with it urbanisation, industrial waste and pollution. These undesirable side effects sparked fears of ecological crisis if man’s industrial excesses weren’t reined in.

The Silent Spring

Arguably the most influential book in the growth of the eco movement was Silent Spring by American biologist Rachel Carson in 1962.

She wrote of her concerns on the widespread spraying of crops with DDT, an early type of pesticide. She was worried that DDT was being used on a massive scale without understanding what impact it would have on wildlife and the eco system. DDT was subsequently banned, but the roots of environmentalism had now already started to flower.

By the mid 1970s fears of ecological catastrophe, on both sides of the pond, were becoming interwoven with fears over Vietnam, nuclear power and the nuclear arms race.

The concerns about pesticides were followed by acid rain in the 80s, ozone depletion and deforestation in the 90s and onto present day fears of climate change and global warming.
The growth of eco design of products

The eco movement found a rallying cry in the form of Al Gore’s controversial documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ (2007). The films box office success and exposure helped spread ecological awareness into the national conscience.

Now, the eco movement is feeding the popularity of eco designed, environmentally friendly products and eco materials, such as eco textiles and eco furnishings.

Whether or not you live in an environmentally designed eco home, everybody can be a part of the eco movement by choosing to buy eco products and putting pressure on every industry to be more environmentally friendly in how they operate.

Eco Upholstery Is Healthier for Wildlife, the Planet and Your Eco Home

November 16th, 2009

When buying an eco sofa for your eco home one of your main concerns is probably whether it’s made from sustainably cut wood. But the way its upholstery is made is just as important.

The textile industry has always had a bad reputation amongst environmentalists. It generates huge amounts of pollution making synthetic textiles, like polyester and nylon. Added to this are the millions of gallons of water it pollutes from washing textiles in anti-creasing agents, fire retardants and chemical dyes, with the leftover residue poured into the local water system, poisoning streams for fish and other wildlife.

The manufacturing of leather upholstery isn’t much better. The process of ‘chrome tanning’, for converting animal hides into leather, is awash with toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde, sulphides and acids. These chemicals combine to create a toxic sludge that’s also poured away into local lakes and streams.

Thankfully, the textile industry has started becoming more innovative in response to consumer demands for it to become greener. Eco textiles are now available for making eco upholstery that are luxurious and comfortable, and far less damaging to wildlife and the planet.

Eco textiles for making eco upholstery

There are a variety of sustainable textiles to choose from for making eco upholstery. Popular kinds include bamboo, organic cotton and hemp, which are all plant based and can be harvested sustainably. Bamboo stems grow back in less than a decade, whilst cotton and hemp can be harvested from the same fields over and over again.

Ordinarily, cotton is quite damaging to harvest, due to the large amount of pesticides and fertilizers farmers spray on their crops. Organic cotton, on the other hand, is harvested sustainably without such heavy use of environmentally damaging chemicals. This makes it a much greener eco upholstery material for decorating eco sofas.

Eco upholstery is coloured with eco dyes

Conventional dyeing methods are far from environmentally friendly. A lot of water is needed which is then polluted with the toxic chemicals used to fasten the dye onto the cloth. This is then simply poured into the local water system. However, there are alternatives.

Low impact fibre reactive dyes have been around for decades. But there have been great advances in recent years, leading to their promotion as an environmentally friendly option for eco upholstery. Low impact dyes don’t contain toxic bonding chemicals but are still able to bond more easily to textiles than conventional dyes. This means they use far less water and consequently cause less water pollution.

Another eco friendly option is to use vegetable based dyes. These are harvested from natural, renewable sources, such as tree bark or dried fruit. Eco dyes typically use less water to fasten onto clothes, and because they’re not derived from petroleum they’re far less polluting to manufacture.

When eco dyes are combined with eco textiles you get an environmentally friendly eco upholstery material for decorating eco sofas, and other eco furniture, in your eco home.

Sleep with a Clearer Conscience in an Eco Bed in Your Eco Home

November 9th, 2009

We spend a third of our lives in bed and getting a good night’s sleep is vital for our health (as well as stops us from being grumpy in the morning). With this in mind, investing in an eco bed should be on the wish list of anybody wishing to live a greener lifestyle in their eco house. There are many ways in which eco beds are more environmentally friendly than conventional beds, including where they’re made and what they’re made from.

Eco beds are made from sustainable wood

Whilst eco furniture is growing in popularity all the time, eco beds are still more of a niche product built in small numbers in independent workshops. This offers two benefits: every eco bed is unique and the materials are locally sourced, minimising the eco bed’s carbon footprint.

The frames of eco beds are made from FSC certified wood, such as Ash, Oak, Pine, hardwood or Walnut. FSC stands for Forestry Stewardship Council and any eco furniture labelled with their green tree logo guarantees that the wood has been cut from a sustainably managed forest. In sustainably managed forests the cutting down of trees is carefully controlled to minimise the environmental impact and the trees are cut in a way so they can grow back.

Along with being made from sustainable wood, eco beds are treated with eco varnishes and paints which are low or VOC free (volatile chemicals). Eco varnishes are water based, biodegradable and don’t release harmful toxins, unlike varnishes which are solvent based. This makes eco beds ideal for anybody who suffers from breathing problems, such as asthma.

Eco beds use eco mattresses

It’s not just an eco bed’s frame that’s made from environmentally friendly materials. An eco bed’s mattress, pillows and bedding can also be made from green eco materials.

Eco mattresses offer a high level of comfort and support whilst also being kinder to the planet. There are a range of materials eco mattresses can be made from, including organic wool, eco foam, natural latex or a combination of eco materials.

Conventional foam mattresses can be very polluting to manufacture due to the use of petrochemicals. Eco foam, on the other hand, can be made using natural castor bean oil which is plant based and far more environmentally friendly.

Natural latex is another plant based material that can be used to make eco mattresses and eco cushions. The solidity of natural latex means it’s excellent for people who suffer from back pain, and its natural anti-bacterial, mildew and mould resistance makes it ideal for anybody who suffers from allergies.

With sleep so important to our health, an eco bed can offer you a better quality of sleep knowing it’s made from sustainable, environmentally friendly materials. Many workshops that make eco furniture will also be happy to recycle your old bed. So when you decide to upgrade to an eco bed in your eco home, you won’t be adding to landfill sites.

We spend a third of our lives in bed and getting a good night’s sleep is vital for our health (as well as stops us from being grumpy in the morning). With this in mind, investing in an eco bed should be on the wish list of anybody wishing to live a greener lifestyle in their eco house. There are many ways in which eco beds are more environmentally friendly than conventional beds, including where they’re made and what they’re made from.

Eco beds are made from sustainable wood

Whilst eco furniture is growing in popularity all the time, eco beds are still more of a niche product built in small numbers in independent workshops. This offers two benefits: every eco bed is unique and the materials are locally sourced, minimising the eco bed’s carbon footprint.

The frames of eco beds are made from FSC certified wood, such as Ash, Oak, Pine, hardwood or Walnut. FSC stands for Forestry Stewardship Council and any eco furniture labelled with their green tree logo guarantees that the wood has been cut from a sustainably managed forest. In sustainably managed forests the cutting down of trees is carefully controlled to minimise the environmental impact and the trees are cut in a way so they can grow back.

Along with being made from sustainable wood, eco beds are treated with eco varnishes and paints which are low or VOC free (volatile chemicals). Eco varnishes are water based, biodegradable and don’t release harmful toxins, unlike varnishes which are solvent based. This makes eco beds ideal for anybody who suffers from breathing problems, such as asthma.

Eco beds use eco mattresses

It’s not just an eco bed’s frame that’s made from environmentally friendly materials. An eco bed’s mattress, pillows and bedding can also be made from green eco materials.

Eco mattresses offer a high level of comfort and support whilst also being kinder to the planet. There are a range of materials eco mattresses can be made from, including organic wool, eco foam, natural latex or a combination of eco materials.

Conventional foam mattresses can be very polluting to manufacture due to the use of petrochemicals. Eco foam, on the other hand, can be made using natural castor bean oil which is plant based and far more environmentally friendly.

Natural latex is another plant based material that can be used to make eco mattresses and eco cushions. The solidity of natural latex means it’s excellent for people who suffer from back pain, and its natural anti-bacterial, mildew and mould resistance makes it ideal for anybody who suffers from allergies.

With sleep so important to our health, an eco bed can offer you a better quality of sleep knowing it’s made from sustainable, environmentally friendly materials. Many workshops that make eco furniture will also be happy to recycle your old bed. So when you decide to upgrade to an eco bed in your eco home, you won’t be adding to landfill sites.