We all have an obligation towards the environment. As curtain makers this extends to the materials we work with and how they are used.
A positive starting point is that companies like ourselves, make bespoke soft furnishings which are made to last. The emphasis is on quality fabrics and a handmade production process resulting in a pair of curtains that can last up to 20 years if cared for correctly.
Too often consumers are preoccupied with the latest interior fashions. Mass produced curtains and blinds tend to be marketed as ‘on trend’ and constructed of synthetic materials. This, combined with cheap production techniques, has led to very affordable products sold on the high street. Conversely this has fueled a disposable attitude to home furnishings and has a very negative impact on the environment.
When thinking about taking a more sustainable approach to soft furnishings consider the following factors:
Synthetic fabrics such as nylon and polyester are cheaper options. However they require more energy in the manufacturing process and as such give off harmful greenhouse gases during their production. In addition due to their level of plastic content they are not biodegradable and their recyclable credentials are limited.
Natural materials such as cotton, linen, wool and silk tend to have a higher price point, but are kinder to the environment when grown and manufactured. They can all be easily recycled and because of their natural properties are biodegradable.
Probably the most environmentally friendly fabric for soft furnishings would be linen. Highly durable both for drapes and upholstery work, linen takes the least processing and becomes softer the more it is used.
Organic cotton follows closely behind and is known to improve soil quality where it is grown sustainably. If considering either linen or cotton choose natural colours that do not involve any dying processes, which are highly damaging to the environment. Also avoid pure white fabrics as the only way of achieving this is through a very harsh bleaching process.
In addition consider wool, which has great thermal properties and is inherently fire resistant. Once again wool can be used for window dressings and upholstery work
A further advantage of using natural fabrics for curtains, including linings and interlinings are their thermal properties, which are far superior to the majority of synthetic options. They also drape so much better and visually look so much more attractive.
Wooden Blinds, Shutters and curtain Poles
When selecting wooden blinds, shutters and even curtain poles, ensure that the wood is sustainably sourced. Look out for the logo which denotes their ecological credentials.
Fabric houses such as Sanderson attempt to source fabrics from as close to home as possible. They aim to reduce air miles through their state of the art production factory in Lancaster which undertakes processing and printing.
These are small steps on the environmental road, but if we all gave consideration when choosing new soft furnishings it can only help us move in the right direction.