We are often asked "how do other shading products around the world compare to the exclusive Earthshade accomplishments?"
Following decades of experience, research, and surveying, the opinions expressed below are an attempt to simplify a very long standing and complicated industry. This is provided to create a perspective for the Earthshade line. It is not intended as comment on any one company or likeness however similar. The industry as a whole has several stars who without years of commitment even the Earthshade line would not be possible. As shown below some of these shading choices have positive attributes including real energy savings. As a result we felt it unfair to create a grading system with failure as a grade.
In a society where we are taught to specialize, few step back looking at the picture as a whole. In many cases the emerging ramifications of concentrated chemicals in our society are a result of wonderfully innocent and creative problem solving along with "one hand not necessarily knowing what the other hand is doing". In the end we as a society are increasingly finding that there is more to being green than recycling and insulation. Material sourcing and lifecycle, durability, ease of use, level of exposure, miles of travel, processing energy, isolation and concentration of material, water management, end of use options, care for labor, and many more principles will continue to emerge as a true definition for the "cost of goods"
+ HappyShade by Earthshade Roman
The Purest, Fair trade, Compostable window fashions in the world.
+ HappyTrack by Earthshade Panel Glide
The Clean, Compostable, Fair Trade answer to the vertical blind.
+ SafeShades by Earthshade Roller
Manual, clutch, and motorized roller shades featuring a variety of the lowest emitting high performance shading fabrics.
+ Better-Blind by Earthshade
Unfinished, uncoated, recycled aluminum Metallic, Venetian, Or mini-blind. Durable, lightweight, versatile, and economical.
+ Metallic, Venetian, Mini Blinds
Once a staple shading product recommended in "Green Living" guides for its low cost high recycled content (20 - 60%) and cured finish. Every vane supplier surveyed has opted away from the costly cured powder coating to today's standard pigmented polyester coating making these rarely suitable for customers with chemical sensitivities.
US Organic textiles certification strictly pertains to the growing of the fiber only. Many certified organic textiles continue to be milled and finished with chemical based processing. When 16% of the worlds pesticide usage is devoted to cotton production, Organic textiles remain a worthy consideration for our children's future.
- Conventional Roller
Almost always synthetic with proprietary finishes, and perhaps the most "greenwashed" products known; Conventional roller shades represent one of the industries greatest opportunities to self regulate toward a cleaner, greener, and truly sustainable lifecycle.
+ Real wood blinds
Although most wood producing forests are managed to some degree of sustainability today, most fabricators use Asian based suppliers that incorporate chemicals at every step making even water born finished blinds more often ill-suited. Concentrated profit and poor labor standards also remain a concern across the board.
Aesthetics aside, mostly synthetic if not PVC, vertical blinds are rated slightly higher for their efficient use of textile material and general functionality. Indoor air quality particularly as the material heats and cools throughout the day remain primary concern.
- Curtains: Conventional
Chemical based or synthetic fiber production, chemical dyes, chemical finishes, water and energy intensive, child and sub standard labor practices, with Long distance supply lines. Curtains offer the opportunity for long term off-gassing and dust proliferation.
Honeycomb or other synthetic shading systems
Petroleum based and arguably the highest use of chemicals (including many known carcinogens) in multiple steps to create the structure, hold it together, and colorize. Although one of the more energy efficient shading choices, honeycomb shades are of particular concern for offgassing (often odorless) under summer heating conditions where such gasses concentrate between the glass and the shade.
Basically one half a honeycomb shade with lower energy performance. As an entry level product we can think of only one category below for sustainability, safety, and indoor air quality: Vinyl or PVC shades off the shelf from a big box or hardware store.
Faux Wood Blinds
Faux wood blind construction incorporates nearly every negative comment we have made in every other shading category from unsustainable synthetic composition to finishing as well as energy consumption and poor labor practice outweighing any possible positive marketing pitch.
In their hay-day, Honeycomb shades accounted for a large percentage of the worlds window fashions, shades, and blind market! Chances are you or someone you know has them! Or maybe you took advantage of the then new finishing technology that finally allowed us all the pleasure to hang silk draperies on our windows without the sun eating them away in short time. We cant change the past. It is important that we use what we learn from yesterdays choices to inform those of today for a greater chance of a better tomorrow.
-Sustainability Including material source (extracted? Renewable? Processing (water,labor,energy), Community building or deconstructive, Distance traveled, Durability, End of use opportunities.
-Performance In the traditional sense of operational ease, light control, privacy, insulation, energy conservation, and heat control. This is also where the potential impact on the carbon footprint and health of workers at every step of the extraction, processing, fabrication, delivery, installation, and end use are considered and or measured.
-Impact or potential impact: On ones wallet over the course of a products life including direct expenses such as initial cost, energy savings, and cost to infrastructure (taxes). For example, a product polluting a landfill (and watershed) at the end of its life will require taxes from the collective population to pay in one form or another to mitigate (if possible) somewhere down the road.
-Health: Personal health for you and your family as well as people bringing goods to you remain the obvious starting place including potential impact on indoor air quality (a reduction of a known carcinogen does not insure safety). Research is just beginning to understand that everything we come in contact with today has a lasting and cumulative effect which will determine our tomorrow. The health of other systems (eco, economic, political) must be considered beyond ones personal interests as societies opportunity to thrive depends on the health of all its systems whether understood or not.