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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.

Want to design a healthier life for yourself? Then please subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter:AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.

About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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25 Responses to Defining Organic and Sustainable

  1. John Poole January 31, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    Nice review Alexandra! It’s great to hear that these product companies are not just focused on style, but sustainability and permanence, as well. (I for one am really a big fan of permanence, as I think already know.) Also good to hear about recycled aluminum taking only 5% of the energy required to fabricate new aluminum…that’s definitely a big plus, as the new manufacturing of aluminum is very energy intensive and not all that environmentally friendly. So I’m glad you found all these products that you like and that also complement and even expand your own chosen organic, sustainable, and healthy lifestyle. Now, if only I could convince you that hand laundering down by the river is the next spoke on the cosmic wheel to nirvana! :-)

    • AlexandraFunFit January 31, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

      Hey John. I am sure you’d love most of the vendors that were at IMM Cologne. They really do build items to last, with an eye to how much material is being used, AND how it can be water or energy saving for the user. I learned a lot. You will never convince me to do my laundry down by the river unless you install one of those really nice Miele washers there!
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Does Coffee Make You Happy?My Profile

  2. Andie Day January 31, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    I really enjoyed your post Alexandra. This morning I read FoodBabe’s post about the abundance of non-organic ingredients allowed in our organic food (see link below) and I’m a bit discouraged. Reading your post is a nice counter-balance. It’s important to share with readers those mfrs that work to improve processes. I didn’t realize that Du Verre hardware is compatible with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). And, nicely done on the Freshome article.

    • AlexandraFunFit January 31, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

      Thanks for the link Andie; I’ll check it out for sure. And thank you for the compliments. As to DuVerre, they have earned that LEED certification, that’s for sure. Our university Rec Cen did the entire building to Silver LEED standards, and the result is huge. I will always choose companies that care for the earth long before those that don’t. When we lived in Oregon it was the norm for companies to consider their impact on the earth and people’s health. They are way ahead of the rest of the country.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Food, Glorious Food: What do a Steam Oven and Cologne Cathedral Have in Common?My Profile

  3. Courtney January 31, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    What a cool tour of the trip, as seen through your healthy eyes. So great to meet you and I will be enthusiastically following you for healthy living tips delivered with a great sense of humor.
    Courtney recently posted..Kitchen and Bath Trends 2013My Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit January 31, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

      hahahah. My eyes are the least healthy part of me, as I have the worst eyesight. In any case, thanks for the compliment and feel free to read our healthy tips whenever you want. Except when you should be in yoga class!
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..3 Exercises You Never Have to Do Again after 2012My Profile

  4. Gina Lubin January 31, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    Nice post Alexandra. Thanks for the compliments. I do want to clarify that we are not LEED certified.
    That would be very expensive! But our processes and materials are environmentally- friendly and compatible with LEED objectives. The Cologne trip looked amazing through your eyes.

    • AlexandraFunFit January 31, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

      Thank you for the clarification Gina, but no need to worry, as I believe you and I are saying the exact same thing. Now I shall happily tell people that you’re quite ethical too!
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Age Actively Using these ResourcesMy Profile

  5. Marcia January 31, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    This was so much fun to read! We lived in Europe for a few years and many of those brands were prominent there then. Brings back great memories!
    Marcia recently posted..Dreams and Bloggers and Winners Oh My!My Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit January 31, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

      Thanks Marcia. I lived in Europe in the early 80s and always miss it when I return! Then I come home and miss it all over again! I love my life in the US, but also loved my life in Europe. And they truly do a better job at protecting the earth than we do – I suspect they are more globally aware. History is probably the reason – we are a very young country! hahahah, I had better stop there or this will be an essay.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Does Coffee Make You Happy?My Profile

  6. kim January 31, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    In the context of sustainability, the USA has probably moved about 6 inches in a mile long journey. That said, it is the efforts of yourself and others that keep our sights on the horizon.

    • AlexandraFunFit January 31, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

      I think you’re right Kim, but I do hope things improve. We have culturally been a throw away society for about 50 years, but I do sense a shift. A slow shift, but a shift nonetheless.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Blood, Stress and DietMy Profile

  7. Mindy Artze February 1, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    This looks like so much fun! I am enjoying watching your tour and learning from your tips!!! I need to be more green for sure!
    Mindy Artze recently posted..It’s always Game DayMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit February 1, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

      Well, Mindy, being more green is exactly like losing weight – one step at a time. Start with turning your shower off one minute sooner, or getting your fruit from the local farmers market or shop. Well, you know what to do!!!
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Pain Free Movement in 2013: Who Wants In?My Profile

  8. Jody - Fit at 55 February 1, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

    WHAT an interesting post!!!! I don’t own but if I ever do, I want some of this stuff! :) Seriously, the points you made on sustainable & organic & less waste & more in line with the environment – I really love this!!! Lucky you for getting to go & what an experience!!!!
    Jody – Fit at 55 recently posted..1 Move for Core, Chest, Triceps, Balance & more!My Profile

  9. Stacey Sheppard February 1, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    This is such a great post Alexandra. As I write about design all the time it hadn’t occurred to me that the words sustainable and organic aren’t terms that people automatically associate with design as I so often do. It’s so great that you were able to take so much away from our trip. I will now be coming here so that I can learn how to apply the words organic and sustainable to a healthy lifestyle and not just to Philippe Starck’s latest bathroom range!!!
    Stacey Sheppard recently posted..BlogTourCGN Sponsor BLANCO at imm cologne 2013My Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit February 1, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

      You know what that means, Stacey? Time for collaboration!! Team work! And I know so little about design, yet sure am learning a lot lately from good writers such as yourself. And you’re welcome to come anytime and help me weed my organic garden. Or chase away the squirrels!
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Does Coffee Make You Happy?My Profile

  10. Noelle McKenzie February 1, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    Awesome post! How lucky to see all this while in GERMANY?!?! I know I’m tall and all, but I still could have found a way to fit in your suitcase. Next time! ;) I especially love the faucet. I’m actually thinking of also getting a faucet filter for my home. Oh and for the record I drove a Hybrid Car for the first time last week! It’s a pretty cool feeling, but takes some getting used to. The car feels like it shuts off every time you stop at a traffic light, but man it is fuel efficient! More people need to make the crossover!
    Noelle McKenzie recently posted..Super Bowl snack on this #healthbowlMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit February 1, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

      Yes, Noelle, it was Germany and Amsterdam. I was the only non-design blogger invited, and I got to learn so much from a new perspective. I’m now much more aware of how my values can tie in with products besides food! And I’ve tried a hybrid too and had the same reaction.

  11. Tamara February 2, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    Thanks so much for sharing your tour with us! I am about to embark on two bathroom renos and long for long lasting, easy to clean and highly functional pieces. I’ll be checking out that Canadian chick’s pulls! (that sounded dirty, but wasn’t intended to be)
    Tamara recently posted..#FatblasterFriday | Reading nutrition labels for fat lossMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit February 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

      You’re welcome Tamara. I have a post coming up next week about a really interesting faucet from BLANCO, so check back. As to Du Verre, let me know what you think of them. They are quite unique. And the owner is up above in the comments (Gina), so if you have questions, let her know. She speaks Canadian!
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Does Coffee Make You Happy?My Profile

  12. Calla Gold February 3, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

    Wow, I have an urge to revamp my kitchen! Sounds like you had a great tour, and learned a lot about responsible kitchen appliances.


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