Real or Faux, natural or artificial? A question confronting everyone planning to add dressings and decorations to their doors and windows
Sure we know that natural is a good direction to follow if we wish to be environmentally conscious, but is this entirely so? The word artificial refers to all items that try to emulate or look like products made from natural resources like wood, fiber and wool that have been used and found acceptable, for centuries. The semantic association also carries with it all the negative implications that the word ‘artificial’ suggests and the implication is that of being second best. Products that are termed artificial do have the advantage of the possibility of mass production to exact specifications down to the minutest requirement with regard to texture, color and size, thickness and firmness. Wastage, for which we need to pay, will be minimum. The easy availability of such products should, in fact, be considered a blessing because, if not, natural resources like forests and arable land would have been exploited to irretrievable levels long ago, considering the immense demand that exists.
In addition to being considered second best another primary consideration that cries for our attention every time we make a natural versus artificial decision is the biodegradability factor. When we hear it being said that the faux wood screen that decorates our window would serve as a dressing for a maximum of 10 years but would take a million years to degrade into the environment, causing great harm in the meantime, we get jolted out of our comfort zones and are prompted to mull over it seriously.
It is true that products categorized as ‘plastics’ are indeed non-bio-degradable. The most responsible thing that we can do with them after they have served their purpose is to send them for recycling. In the process of recycling they lose some of their ‘virgin’ qualities but can be effectively used for purposes that are not as demanding as for window dressings and interior decor and can be used for other less demanding products. Most western societies are fully aware of the environmental issues involved and have the technology and the schemes to minimize the damage that can be caused through irresponsible handling of non-bio degradable products.
As any chemistry book would inform us, all material has properties that make them appropriate for certain applications. In the case of door and window dressings, we encounter different requirements. A small window can be dressed with a horizontal blind made from wood, metal, acrylic or vinyl louvers. A larger window would be better off with vertical slats for which wood would be a wrong choice – fabric, aluminum, acrylic or vinyl would be better suited. The point is that one needs to balance one’s budget with one’s requirements and go for bio-degradable material wherever possible.
There is no material that is artificial. All material comes from natural resources. Some like wood and fiber can be cultivated and regenerated and have the added advantage of being entirely bio-degradable. Others falling under the category plastic, are processed from petroleum, a natural resource that cannot be replenished. We refer to a PVC pipe without too many implications because alternatives made of natural material are not viable. When we refer to faux-wood blinds we compare it to real wood blinds and when we refer to synthetic fiber, we compare it to alternatives made of natural fiber. In the process, we forget that in the fabrication of the artificial product much research has been done to match and surpass the qualities of the natural one.
So what could be a solution to resolve the question: should we buy natural or artificial?
The most important aspect is the budget. Products made of natural material are more expensive than those made of poly resins and other petro based chemicals. The next aspect is the aesthetic value of the product. Products falling under the category artificial are not second best in this department. The range of surface and color options is large enough to suit the most exacting pairing requirements. For example well known and reputed brands like Norman, Graber Blinds, Comfortex and Crown, engineer blinds, shades, shutters and drapes from petroleum-based material that would need a trained eye o distinguish the difference. The exciting colors, feel and workmanship of these products coupled with sleek control systems arrest the attention and subdue the natural versus artificial question in our minds. These suppliers have a solution for every requirement, be it with regard to thermal insulation, eco-friendliness, looks or installation.
If the budget allows, go natural. Discounts on natural products can never match the discounts available on look-alike products because they need to come from distant forests and fields, unlike the artificial ones that are mass produced in factories. Increase one’s awareness of the fate of those attractive artificial options after their shelf-life by asking questions and then choose a product that comes from an environmentally conscious manufacturer. There are superb discounts being offered. If you have a requirement for window dressings, now is a good time to buy. Go for it.