In recent years there seems to be a significant increase in those suffering from allergies, and the home has been earmarked as one of the leading culprits.
Many home owners are looking for alternative building materials and products that will ease their allergies and reduce the amount of toxins in the home. Also, the trend is towards making one’s home sustainable, energy efficient, and carbon neutral.
Paints, floor coverings, and other items have been changing over the years in direct response to consumer demands for low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) products and carbon friendly alternatives. The window covering industry is no exception, and great advancements in technology in recent times have elicited some wonderfully inventive products that meet these demands head on.
One of the major world-recognised certifications is Oekotex, a leading European green certification first developed in 1992 when the outcry over harmful substances used in textiles was reaching a fever pitch.
Fabrics for blinds and curtains are passed through rigorous independent testing; there must be no harmful substances present and no risk to human health. This certification process tests for illegal substances, legally regulated substances, known harmful chemicals and other parameters for health care. Furthermore, these products improve indoor air quality, help conserve energy and minimise environmental impact.
If a product is Oekotex certified, it not only covers the product itself but the manufacturing process. These fabrics must be manufactured using renewable non-polluting energy.
Australian made fabrics are seen as premium products in terms of design, quality, reliability and performance. Most Aussie fabric manufacturers take the Oekotex certification very seriously and have produced numerous product ranges for both blinds and curtain fabrics to meet the demand.
Other products, such as venetians and shutters are hot on their heels, but most still have some way to go to achieve these high standards. The use of low VOC painted finishes on these products, together with environmentally sustainable timbers and manufacturing processes, make these an option in the home for allergy sufferers, although dust attraction to the surface can pose a problem.
One is able to source blind products that are made from a percentage of recycled materials, are 100 per cent PVC free, 100 per cent halogen free and containing no VOCs. Certified curtain fabrics (for those consumers who do not like the minimalist style of blinds), also offer washability and stain resistance without adding any harsh chemicals. There is now quite a significant number of fabrics in varying textures, colours and patterns that can be confidently used in the home without any negative impact. The original cleanliness and ”just new” feeling of the product can easily be maintained in a non-toxic manner due to the durable construction and the lack of chemicals covering the fabric surface.
Technological advancements in upholstery weight fabrics have also created “green” fabrics that are made from recycled PET bottles and contain no harsh chemicals such as formaldehyde, a common toxin in many commercial weight fabrics.
The potential options currently available extend beyond the home and into window coverings for schools, aged care facilities and health care facilities. So there really is no excuse to simply leave windows bare because allergy sufferers live in the home. There are many many decorative options available that will maintain high quality indoor air and not contribute to one’s carbon footprint.