If you’re environmentally-minded and want to remodel your bathroom, there’s good news for you: an extensive variety of eco-friendly vanity sinks do exist. With more and more people wanting earth-friendly design options, it’s good to know the manufacturers are stepping up. But what exactly is it about these vanities that’s eco-friendly? Mainly, it’s what’s used to make them. Sustainable materials and new manufacturing techniques are making all the difference.
Invented by a glass scientist in 1996, Vetrazzo uses 100 percent recycled glass. This glass not only comes from curbside recycling programs but also from sources that might otherwise end up in landfills, such as glass from demolition sites and old windshields. Vetrazzo is made up of 85 percent glass and a binder consisting of cement, pigments, additives and additional recycled materials. Because Vetrazzo uses recycled glass, each slab produced is unique with colors and patterns becoming limited editions due to the limited amounts of the types of glass used. Vetrazzo even comes with a certificate tracing the glass used in manufacturing back to its origin.
Vetrazzo is made using green manufacturing processes and use of Vetrazzo can qualify your design project for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Vetrazzo provides a smooth surface, comparable to granite in scratch resistance, strength, durability and thermal resistance, as well as in its maintenance and care.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) monitors forest management policies. In order for wood to be FSC-certified it must be harvested from a sustainably-managed forest and have controlled supply chain in order to facilitate tracking of the wood from its source to the final manufactured product. There are many different brands and styles of bathroom vanities available made with FSC-certified wood, so don’t hesitate about it being a difficult task to complete.
In addition to Vetrazzo and FSC-certified wood, there is a material known as Caesarstone. Caesarstone is an incredibly environmentally-friendly option, recycling 97 percent of the water used in manufacturing, collecting dust from production, processing, shipping and handling, as well as recycling and reusing the waste materials generated during the manufacturing process. Not only is Caesarstone LEED certified, it’s also certified by SCS (Scientific Certification Systems) and was the first quartz surfacing company to attain ISO 14001 certification (a global standard created for environmental protection).
Caesarstone comes in a variety of colors and styles, and has the advantage of being stronger than granite or marble. Caesarstone is also non-porous and non-absorbent; it’s resistant to mold and mildew, heat, stains, cracks and scratches. Comprised of 93 percent quartz, Caesarstone is a durable yet beautiful, earth-friendly option for bathroom vanities.
Bamboo is another option for vanities that’s both eco-friendly and gorgeous. Vanities constructed from bamboo are good for the environment in a number of ways. First, bamboo grows extremely quickly, making it renewable. In fact, there are those who believe that if bamboo were planted on a wide enough scale it could not only provide a renewable source of building materials and food, but it could also prevent erosion and even reverse the effects of global warming. If you needed any other reasons to buy bamboo, it also just happens to be strong and durable.
Choosing a Vanity
While choosing a vanity made out of one of the materials above is a good start, there are other things to consider as well:
- Faucets – When choosing an eco-friendly vanity, it’s also important to choose a low-lead faucet to go with it. Lead is detrimental for both people and the environment. Most people are aware of the dangers of lead in old paint but old lead faucets can be just as dangerous. Older bathroom faucets may contain high levels of lead, so it’s a good idea to replace them with new ones that are much lower in lead.
- WaterSense – While many faucets may be labeled “low-flow,” not all of them are labeled WaterSense. A program established by the EPA, WaterSense provides guidelines for water consumption. For an optimally eco-friendly vanity, make sure your faucet has earned the WaterSense label.
With these incredible choices available for eco-friendly vanities, green truly is gold.
About the Author:
Contributing writer Karen Gruen has over a decade of experience with environmental interior design. Her current project is developing a lecture series on modern green design; she recommends vanity sinks found on the website DecorPlanet.com.