Defining Organic and Sustainable

Alexandra Williams, MA

As a healthy living blogger who cares a lot about fitness and food, I’ve mostly associated the term “organic” with food, and “sustainable” with recycling. I bake and cook from scratch, I have an organic garden, I shop for organic foods, and I recycle and buy used items. That’s always been my interpretation of those terms.

Koeln Messe IMM Living KitchenBut going to IMM Cologne, the international furnishings show in Germany as part of BlogTour by Modenus, helped open my eyes to expanded definitions of both terms. Part of why I found the trip so appealing was the attention paid to the future, and how the present affects it. Everything I saw, from new products in Cologne to extremely old houses in Amsterdam, was built to last.Amsterdam

Please read along to discover some of the companies that are forward-thinking in their products and design, and see if your understanding of what’s organic and sustainable grows (in a chemical-free garden, of course)

Hansgrohe, already pioneers in sustainability, and environmental and climate protection, had the Axor Starck Organic line, which includes the faucet you see here. Is it just me (and hundreds of visitors to the booth) who thinks it looks like a tree branch? This faucet has “Organic” in its name for the following reasons:

Axor_Starck_Organic_new_efficient_water_spray* Less is more: it has minimal design
* The water flow rate is 3.5 liters per minute, compared to the norm of 7 (with no water pressure difference. I’d tell you about the 90 holes in the tap that makes this possible, but it’s technical and my mind wandered off)
* The controls are intuitive, ergonomic and economical, which means you turn the water on and off at the tip of the spout, where it’s easy to reach. And the temperature is controlled at the top of the mixer
* The casting is hollow, so  less material is used to make the faucet
* The water never touches brass pipes, so it’s not picking up weird pipe goobers

DuVerre Hardware Lotus PullsMy next tip of the hat goes to a Canadian, woman-owned company, Du Verre Hardware. They create cabinet pulls from recycled aluminum. I’ve never seen pulls quite like these, and I was curious about Du Verre’s statement that “Our precision die cast hardware is manufactured entirely from recycled aluminum and is an environmentally friendly choice for professional and consumer alike. Du Verre Hardware is compatible with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) objectives,” so I asked owner Gina Lubin to elaborate.

“The metal is valuable and easily melted down and reused. In fact, aluminum becomes stronger as it goes through this constant process of being cast and melted and cast again. Of course, all of us are now so much more aware of the importance of reduce, recycle, reuse. It’s not only a good thing, it is expected. Recycled aluminum requires only 5% of the energy used to make new aluminum. So there is energy saving as well. LEED was developed in 1998 to create greener spaces. People are making a more environmentally friendly choice. A small thing in a large project, but a worthwhile detail.”

Scenes from IMM KoelnThe final entity I want to mention is the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). They are not producers of products; rather, they are a professional association for bath and kitchen specialists. What this means to you is that you can visit them to get professional help in planning your kitchen or bath project. I’ve moved often and prefer older homes, so have been through many remodels. Because of that, I hate waste and impermanence, and crave homes that respect the environment, both in usage, history and surroundings. The NKBA mission statement appeals to my values – “Committed to helping consumers and professionals understand their options for creating more energy-efficient living spaces…with a focus on environmentally friendly products and practices.”

My colleague Sarah Sarna wrote a very helpful post that describes the NKBA, so clicky on over to her description. After reading Sarah’s post, I wrote to get more information about the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) that the NKBA will put on in April, and discovered a talk that appeals to me – “Designing for a Sustainable Lifestyle.” The blurb says that “attendees will learn how to think beyond the basics of design to seek out innovative ways that solve everyday challenges which come with trying to live a sustainable lifestyle.” I’m not a designer, nor do I have any current plans to attend the show, but if I ever hire an interior designer, I want THAT person to have attended the talk.

In the end, I came home from BlogTour with an expanded idea of what it means to more fully live an organic and sustainable lifestyle. It’s more than what I DO in the kitchen; it’s what my kitchen IS. It’s the busiest room in my home, and I want it to fully reflect my values. And it was such an adventure. The show was for interior designers and home specialists, and I was probably the only healthy living blogger there. To see all the creativity and effort that is going into making our lives better (I saw nothing that was designed to be obsolete) made me excited and happy. I like owning items that have a history and will last long enough to become part of my kids’ histories. I prefer function to flash, and quality over shiny objects that glitter for a while, then lose their sparkle after a year or two. What about you?

Testing out the olive oil bed by Candia StromIf you want to know about the mattress I discovered at the show that’s treated with olive oil, read my quick blurb over at Freshome. Cashmere is also involved!






I was not compensated in any way for this post, nor was I asked to write it. All of the organizations mentioned were sponsors of BlogTour, and I truly feel they are working to improve our lives and planet.

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