Why cover your windows at all? Well, windows make up approximately 20% of a home’s exterior wall area and uncovered windows allow 20 times more heat flow than covered windows. Window coverings also add style, colour, and practical solutions like privacy, screening and light filtration.

Eco-friendly window coverings do make a difference. Blinds and curtains made from artificial materials may contain PVC and petrochemicals.

Draperies made from synthetic fabrics also may contain dyes and treatments that consist of petrochemicals, formaldehyde and acids.

Some “green” things to think about when choosing your window coverings:

1) Energy efficiency – how much cold will they keep out, and how much heat will they keep in, and vice versa in warm weather. Some treatments do this better than others. Honeycomb blinds, roman shades and real wood blinds are all good choices. Layering your treatments and using heavy fabrics and linings will also help. You can also increase the efficiency of your windows by adding a low-E glaze to them. You will be extending the life of your furniture, flooring and carpets by being able to block out direct sun exposure, which will save you money and having to replace these items!

2) How the materials affect the air quality – we should all be aware of how things we bring into our homes may affect us. Plastic and faux wood blinds may contain PVC, which releases carcinogens and can trigger respiratory problems. Synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester may be treated with chemicals which can lead to health and mental problems.

  • According to the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice, PVC products outgas 108 different chemicals within the first 28 days of use and continue to do so for a very long time: that “new” smell is the telltale sign of all those chemicals going into your lungs and skin. PVC has been associated with many serious human ailments. Even conservative organizations have started to caution people against vinyl / PVC products.

3) Choose materials that are renewable and sustainable. Look for wood that is Forest Stewardship Council certified. Bamboo is fast growing but, unfortunately, the loose weave of bamboo shades is not very energy efficient. A great alternative is to use bamboo drapery rods. Natural fabrics like hemp, organic cotton, linen, tencel and wool are some great choices. Avoid fabrics treated with chemicals and artificial dyes.

4) Look for local producers and suppliers. Make sure your treatments are being produced in a sweatshop free environment, using fair labour practices. The farther away your window coverings and their components come from, the bigger the footprint on the environment.