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Mythology and Window Dressings

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Distinguish between Shades and Blinds.

Ever considered what ‘Shade’ means? Well, according to Merriam-Webster, ‘shade’ is defined as “comparative darkness or obscurity owing to interception of the rays of light/relative obscurity or retirement/ shelter (as by foliage) from the heat and glare of sunlight/ a place sheltered from the sun/an evanescent or unreal appearance, whereas the word ‘blind’ is what Merriam-Webster defines as “unable to see something”.

So then it’s no surprise that manufacturers have gone to town using terms like ‘blinds’ and ‘shades’ to name and describe window dressings that lend protection while accessorizing a room! You use these window treatments to protect or ‘blind’ a room from prying eyes or ‘shade’ to give a room respite from the relentless sun. How amazingly apt.

Interestingly, mythology would have us believe that in ancient Rome, “Shades” was a term used for ghosts (Di Manes, Lares, and Lemures) who were honored by means festivals through the year, just as Halloween is celebrated today; or All Souls Day. These ghosts were described as immanes that means immensity and shapelessness, quite like our depiction of swirling, transparent spirits. Inhabitants of the shady netherworld…..I wonder if that’s how ‘sheer’ shades and drapes came about?!


Incidentally, there’s a technical difference between blinds and shades, though the terminology is often loosely and interchangeably used –

Shades refer to flat panels of soft window coverings that are made of fabric of some sort, can be either lined or unlined, and can be raised or lowered over a window. Most shades need to be raised to allow light in or for an unobstructed outdoor view. We now have pleated and cellular panels as well as specialized shades called Odyssey shades that can be lowered from a certain height or level to form cells for insulation!

Blinds refer to hard window coverings made of horizontal or vertical slats or vanes that can be controlled to manage the amount of light streaming or filtering into a room. These window treatments don’t have to be lifted all the way up for a good exterior view either.

There is even an innovation called the Shangri-La Sheer Shades –they’re called shades because it’s constructed out of two layers of gossamer fabric even though enclosing vanes made of fabric as well. A bit confusing isn’t it?

Another confusing piece of information – PVC or polyvinyl chloride products are not eco-friendly, right? Because they can’t be recycled. And many window coverings are made out of PVC – solar shades, PVC blinds, cellular shades, faux wood blinds – what are consumers to do? Well, for one, let’s educate ourselves! it is important to separate fact from fiction when it comes to PVC products and dispel the myths associated with PVC.


Here are a few of the myths;


PVC window covers cannot be recycled –

This is entirely untrue as after separating them from their operating components, they are mechanically processed and ground into small pieces that are transformed into new PVC compounds.


PVC window treatments contain a lot of Dioxin –

Dioxins are organic compounds (one among many VOC’s) that are thought to be carcinogenic and environmental pollutants that once they enter the human body, they’re absorbed by fatty tissue, where they reside forever and a day. Though they are released into the air as industrial waste, they are also released into the air from forest fires, volcanic eruptions, etc. Sabulis explains that it would take a single PVC production facility 30,000 yrs to produce the same amount of dioxins as the amount released into the atmosphere by a camp fire.


Wooden window coverings are better than their PVC counterparts –

While it’s true that wooden blinds and shutters are made from regenerating forests, they are expensive and often difficult to maintain, and can’t be used in high humidity conditions. PVC window coverings offer the perfect solution to affordable and easily maintained window coverings.


PVC window covers come in boring colors and forms –

Completely untrue – modern technology has made inroads to a pleasing array of colors and formation of PVC window coverings.

All reputed brands are committed to following policies that protect the environment. For example, a company like ComfortexShangri-La-Sheer-Shades - Window Fashions has an ‘ecogreen’ stamp for their line of products that assure customers that –

1. Ecogreen fabrics are processed to carry no VOC’s, eliminating the need for off-gassing.

2. All ecogreen fabrics are recyclable and reclaimed as an initiative to preserving the environment.

3. Ecogreen fabrics used by Comfortex help them accrue LEED certification by contributing to efficient energy usage.

So, while as human beings we tend to perpetuate myths, there’s no substitute for self-education to improve the quality of our lives. One can decide to go for ecogreen options like the symphony and ComfortTrack plus cellular shades, Odyssey Insulating Blinds, Ensemble Pleated Shades, Envision Roller Shades, Shangri-La Sheer Shades, etc. The endlessly friendly and efficient staff at Zebrablinds will help you make the beat choice possible for your windows, keeping in mind all your energy and environmental concerns. Have no fear!



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