Going green is the banner cry of many homeowners today, and not just social justice warriors. People like the idea of saving the planet without having to forego their personal conveniences, and this applies to all consumer goods, including kitchen countertops.
The problem is the “green” movement has made manufacturers make eco-friendly and sustainability claims for their products that might not always be entirely accurate, or “green-washing.” The label makes an excellent marketing strategy and companies are milking it for all it is worth.
This is good if it is true, but helps no one if they are simply taking it as a buzzword and has little or no basis for their claims. The claims might not be lies, but omissions, misstatements, or overstatements, which are just as bad. For instance, a product might come from recycled materials in part, but the bulk of the raw materials or the manufacturing process is not. These companies are technically making legitimate claims, but their products are still not eco-friendly.
Delving deeper into these claims will usually reveal the truth, but most people take it on faith. If you want to make sure the kitchen countertops and other consumer products you choose are truly eco-friendly, you have to take the trouble to do your research. Here are some pointers to help you do that.
Read the label
The quickest way to determine if a product is actually eco-friendly is to read the label. You should be able to find approval marks from trustworthy certifying bodies. These include organizations such as EnergyStar, Cradle to Cradle, and WaterSense. These certifying bodies carry out comprehensive tests and extensive verification to check claims of eco-friendliness and sustainability before affixing their stamp of approval.
If you do spot such a stamp on the product you are thinking about buying, you have some assurance about the truth about the claims. If you see a label, but you are familiar with organization, go one step further and check the certifier’s reputation.
Stamps of approval or other marks of certification re not always available, however. Granite slabs, for example, do not normally go through certification since each slab is unique. You would have to get individual stamps for each slab, which is not practical. The process takes a long time and entails a significant investment. Those costs will pass on to the consume, which will make granite generally beyond the reach of regular people.
Dig around a bit
The Internet makes it easy to do research about the company. The manufacturer’s website is a a good place to start for finding out a bit more about the product and the process they use. You can find their customer service and ask directly about their claims. Another tack is to look for reviews about it from customers as well as discussions boards for complaints.
In most cases, you want to find out about the product composition, such as the source and type of recycled material, if any, and other technical information. Some customers might even have done their own homework much better than you have, so you can reap the benefits. Discussion boards and forums are also a good place to ask questions and where you can expect unbiased answers.
Check the fine print
Misdirection is one tactic used by some companies that lets them off the hook. They might make their claims in big, bold letters, and then qualify it in the fine print that most people overlook or do not bother to check.
For instance, a company might trumpet the fact that they use recycled materials, then mention the fact that it also uses resins or other additives that might be toxic in another area on their website or manual. It might also neglect to state that the manufacturing process used a significant amount of energy, mostly derived fossil fuels.
In some cases, the tradeoff might be the location of the production or the packaging used. . Products from another country inevitably imply heavy transportation costs, and thus a larger carbon footprint than local products. The packaging might be excessive or use non-eco-friendly materials.
All these possible tradeoffs negate the actual eco-friendliness of a product. You need to look at the picture as a whole to determine if a product is truly eco-friendly.
Companies are very good at getting people to focus on what they want. People might form a good opinion about a company because they emphasize that they are doing this or that to make their product eco-friendly, when in fact it has no choice but to do these things. Laws concerning the handling or inclusion of lead, CFC, and asbestos, for example, are in place to make certain practices mandatory, so compliance is not going beyond the minimum legal requirements. Keep a critical attitude about these claims, and check if they are simply following regulations, or truly making the extra effort to protect the environment.
When thinking about doing an eco-friendly kitchen or bathroom remodel, you want to be aware of these greenwashing strategies. It takes extra effort, but worth it for the protection of the environment.
You can get some assurance about the eco-friendliness of the products you buy when you deal only with reputable suppliers. And you can simply specify “green” products, and they will make sure you get it.
You can make your life much easier by consulting with reputable countertop specialists such as KNC Granite. KNC Granite has a large array of eco-friendly granite slabs from which to choose. You can check actual slabs at our showroom in Lanham, Maryland and we will walk you through how we can meet your social consciousness and budget, and still give you affordable and attractive granite countertops for your home.
We do not only supply top-quality granite stones, however. We are experts at fabricating and installing kitchen counters or bathroom vanities. Also we specialize in kitchen remodeling and bathroom upgrade projects, delivering on time and on budget.
Aside from natural stones, we carry some of the top brands of engineered quartz if that is what you want. This includes Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone, and MSI, all of which come with manufacturer warranties. Give us a call or email us for your free in-home consultation and quote.