CHALLENGE: As a responsible interior designer who specializes in window treatment design, I strongly believe in using products that will assist in preserving our environment. It is sometimes difficult to incorporate sustainable design into everything I create for a client. Please offer some inspiration and information that will help me achieve my goal in contributing to saving our environment. I really want to become an even more responsible designer in this important area of interior design.
SOLUTION: You are right on target. It is our responsibility in the year 2007 to become more aware of and concentrate on ideas that will lead us to a safer and healthier environment for future generations. I recently finished reading an excellent book, “Cradle to Cradle—Remaking the Way We Make Things,” by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, published by North Point Press.
I was inspired to find new ways to cope with the attitudes of manufacturers’ processes in how they dispose of and reuse materials in all areas of our industry. Let me refer to a section in Chapter 5, “Using Local Materials,” in which the authors state (page 125), “The idea of local sustainability is not limited to materials, but it begins with them.”
Think about that! The lifecycle of a material must be carefully thought about from the beginning of its inception.
Let’s take an example such as the window treatment in Mrs. Smith’s home that has dressed the window for 15 years or so. Mrs. Smith has finally decided to redecorate and is hoping to use an environmentally friendly product. I am assuming the fabric is in fairly good condition, as the fabric was an expensive, say Greff, fabric that adorned the windows and lasted all this time because of the excellent lining incorporated into the original window treatment.
So let’s first think about the fabric before we haul it away with our installer or to the local trash bin. Set the fabric aside, take it back to the office and place it in a storage box marked “Possible Future Use,” or “Donate to Charity,” rather than disposing of it. Just think, if every drapery job were recycled and reused how many more “lifecycles” the components could survive and as that idea multiplied how far it could go to reduce waste and help the environment.
Companies also are looking at ways to recycle old fabrics to reprocess them into new materials. Did you know that a major manufacturer of school backpacks uses 100 percent recycled plastic soft drink bottles to manufacturer one of the strongest backpacks on the market with a lifetime guarantee? I encourage you to read this book and try to do your part in creating a safer, healthier environment.
Editor’s note: This is a continuing series of articles written by Sharon L. Anderson that will answer some of the many questions we receive at Draperies & Window Coverings as well as questions Anderson has encountered in her own business. If you have a question you would like Anderson to address, please send it to:
c/o Draperies & Window Coverings
1724 E. Grand Ave.
Lindenhurst, IL 60046
Fax: (847) 356-9013
Sharon L. Anderson has more than 20 years experience in the residential and commercial areas of interior design. She is currently a faculty member at two Southern California colleges. Anderson has been featured in numerous books and publications.