Window shades, blinds and curtains go green

March 21, 2012

Are you looking into window replacement or just an updated look? New-generation window blinds, shutters and curtain materials offer a design statement as well as a small footprint on the environment. If you're interested in green products, why not take the additional step and use sustainable window accessories?

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Fabric window coverings and accessories

For accessories, you can cover your new or replacement windows with stylish drapes or curtains made from natural, sustainable materials. Natural fibers, according to Iris Window Coverings of Washington, fall into three categories: vegetable fibers, protein fibers, and strong elastic fibrous parts from the larvae of silkworms.

Roller-shade fabrics can be biodegradable or recyclable, made from materials that haven't been treated with toxic chemicals during manufacturing. In addition, shades and curtains can be produced from recycled polyesters and nylons. Iris Window Coverings adds that 4 million tons of potentially recyclable post-consumer textiles end up in the landfill each year.

Hemp and wool, if grown and produced without chemicals, also make for environmentally friendly fiber products. Even fabrics and solar shades made from recycled plastic soda bottles are considered sustainable if not mixed with natural fibers in the manufacturing process.

Choosing sustainable shutters and paints

Shutters can be manufactured from woods harvested under sustainable conditions set by the Forest Stewardship Council. You can also choose products made from renewable resources like bamboo. For example, Sustainable Shutters, an Arizona company, builds window accessories from North American basswood, a forestry product that grows faster than it is consumed. The company also uses green coatings and paint products with the Sherwin-Williams GreenSure designation. GreenSure paints and stains are manufactured without silica or VOCs that off-gas, or emit gases, into the environment.

Another alternative product, ThermoWood, is created from 100 percent-recyclable poly synthetics, and is described as more durabled than wood. Manufacturers report that ThermoWood shutters are fire-retardant, water-resistant alternatives that insulate three times as effectively as wood.

You can shop for sustainable blinds that are made from jute and grasses produced as Roman Style shades. "Green" solar shades block UV rays to reduce heat transmittance without concealing the view. Suppliers also package valances, scallops, cornices, trims, fringe and braids in sustainable materials that match their roller blinds.

Another benefit of faux wood or sustainable synthetics is that the curtains, blinds and shades resist rot and mildew, and can be cleaned simply with dusters. They come in a range of slat sizes, which help you fine-tune the amount of protection and shade for each room of the house. Honeycomb blinds, or cellular shades, trap air between the slats, preserving your indoor temperatures in the winter and resisting heat flow in the summertime.

It would be a shame if you shouldered the replacement windows cost without taking advantage of affordable, complementary and sustainable accessories.

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