EARLS HOUSE AS A BUSINESS: EMBRACING ECO CONSCIOUS AS A CHOICE
At Earls House we have always been quite cautious when using the terms ‘Eco Friendly’ or ‘Sustainable’. I feel they are words not to be taken lightly or thrown around to make a brand, business or a person feel morally better. In today’s society, I feel it is a promise and a commitment that what you are labelling as ‘Eco Friendly’ or ‘Sustainable’ is wholely and completely fulfilling the word they are proclaiming to be. That’s where the term ‘Eco Conscious’ has really changed my perspective and feel it will do the same for others.
From my experience in upcycling, it is very difficult to completely eliminate all waste and make
every single process fully eco friendly. It’s like opening Pandora’s Box as the more aware and more conscious you become of reducing waste; the more you become aware of how much waste there actually can be. Although upcycling in itself is reducing the amount of waste being sent to landfill by making unwanted items not just useable again but valuable and desirable; that alone is no longer enough to simply tick that ‘eco friendly’ box. As social awareness continues to grow, so does the passion and consciousness of the consumer; along with what and how they are buying. It’s how brands and business’ can fully embrace those eco conscious choices that need to run deeper than face value.
Some small changes we can make to start embracing Eco Conscious choices are:
Research into the paint you use and the manufacturer...
When it comes to upcycling, realistically, no paint is entirely eco friendly but there are brands out there that are much less harmful to the environment and more eco conscious. Generally, the best thing to keep an eye out for is VOC's.
But what are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)? They're a large group of chemicals that are found in many products we use day to day around our homes; especially paints, adhesives, varnishes and waxes (which are all essentials for an upcycler!). Once these chemicals are in our homes, they emit gases into the air we breathe that can damage our health and can pollute the air. Some give off smells, some don't; so it can be difficult to tell which chemicals are safe and which aren't. So, as a quick rule of thumb; the less VOC's, the better.
It can be difficult finding the brand that works best for you and the environment; it took me a good while to find a brand I was fully happy with. I struggled with different types, finding the right colours, the right finish, the right prices as well as making sure I was being eco conscious. After a few years use, my favourite brand is definitely Fusion Mineral Paint. Not only does it have a beautiful, smooth matte finish and gorgeous colours but it their paints are virtually zero VOC. So for me, a win-win!
Use greener, cleaner materials...
Some of the day to day items and materials we use could easily be kinder to our environment. I'm not saying bin anything that is plastic (because the idea is to send as little to landfill as possible), but when we are buying something new, in need of a repair or a replacement; look into the different options rather than choosing the cheapest item that will get to us the quickest. There are so many items around our offices, workshops and homes that this could apply to:
Wooden handled paint brushes and tools instead of plastic handles
Restoring original drawer handles and hinges where possible rather than buying new
Using old rags or cotton cloths to clean down furniture rather than using Sugar Soap Wipes
Do our best to clean our existing paintbrushes rather than leaving them to dry out so they are unusable and need to buy more (admittedly, I have been guilty of this is the past!)
Buying second hand tools where possible rather than always buying new
Making sure Postman Pat doesn't leave a scratch...
When I get a piece of furniture ready to be delivered to a customer, that beauty needs to be wrapped up like a mummy in an Egyptian Tomb to make sure there are no risks of damage during transit. Some of the changes we have made over the years to make our materials safer for the environment are:
Using recyclable bubble wrap or corrugated cardboard rolls instead of non-recyclable bubble wrap
Swapping paper parcel tape rather than plastic parcel tape
Using cardboard corners and edging strips instead of polystyrene or foam.
Trying to re-use as much cardboard and wrapping from other deliveries as possible to reduce the amount of single use materials
It still very much serves the purpose, on the odd occasion it is a little more expensive but for me, that is a small price to pay to make sure that we are being that little bit kinder to Mother Nature.
Sure it isn’t going to make a huge difference to the planet – but it will make a difference nevertheless.
Did you know?
It can take plastic items up to 1000 years to decompose. A plastic bag alone can take up to 20 years to decompose. Plastic bottles can take 450 years to decompose. So your great-great-great-great-great-great grandchild could come across a plastic bottle that is disposed of today. Wood on the other hand, depending on the size of the item can take 13-80 years to decompose. Now I’m not suggesting we have wooden bottles or wooden carrier bags; but there are so many plastic items than can easily be substituted for greener and cleaner materials.