By Jessica McNaughton
One of the most aggravating things about being a supplier of sustainable building materials is greenwashing, or manufacturers making claims that something is good for the environment when it is, in fact, not. There are various methods people use for this “greenwashing” – using a label or certification that has no merit or is a pay-to-play certificate, misrepresenting the attributes of the product or, in my opinion, the most egregious, inferring that the use of naturally occurring resources, like stone, is somehow, “natural.”
Yes, stone occurs in nature. But digging it out of the core of the earth in a dirty and unregulated manner using poor labor practices is definitely not natural.
You can’t drive through an industrial park or past a kitchen-and-bath showroom without seeing a “Granite installed for $19.99/sq. ft.” sign – or something similar touting how great it is that granite is so cheap now.
In order to get the economies of scale that allow granite to be sold and installed that cheaply, something had to give, and it is cheap labor and foreign supply.
Gone are the artisan days of Italian craftsmen sculpting and creating with granite, and arrived are the days of dirty air, lung disease and massive excavation in places like China and India. Poor labor practices impact workers, their families and the overall health of the public, to keep this industry going so we can “keep up with the Joneses, or Kardashians or whoever” over here.
This is definitely not natural. Demolishing and excavating in hours what took millions of years to form is not natural. It is immoral.
Look for alternatives to “natural stone.” Man-made materials that have a positive impact on the environment by using recycled content or sustainably harvested source materials are a better alternative. For more information on these materials see: www.modern-surfaces.com.
About the Author
Jessica McNaughton is the President of CaraGreen, a distributor of sustainable materials, and co-authored the book Understanding Green Building Materials. She has her Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering and her MBA from the Ivey Business School. She is also a LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP).
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in guest editorials are those of the author’s and do not necessarily (although in some cases may) represent the views of the publisher, editor or owner of this website.