A term used by us since 1999 now being co-opted by industries including green-building as an attempt to draw a connection to a material or products TOTAL impact. A Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) today may include energy and resources (water) needed for raw material extraction (inputs), processing, manufacture, distribution, USE, maintenance, disposal or reclamation, by-products, and transportation that occurs at numerous stages. In other words, Lifecycle refers to an organism, object, or in our case a products total history, make-up, and comprehensive impact whether intended or not on the planet as a whole.
Various systems are coming into vogue that attempt to measure lifecycle. Debate continues for nearly every product category. Standards evolve with many materials or products falling in between. At Earthshade we measure where appropriate and possible applying common sense in search of the lowest impact possible. Often we will default to traditional methods used long before modern conveniences. Other times we will offer comprehensive information so our customers can make the most informed decision.
Our HappyShade collection remains the worlds only lifecycle assured shading system. We arguably have the largest collection of rapidly renewable raw materials with the least processing. Each and every fabric pattern has been tested and verified in a common backyard composting system returning the unfinished natural material back to the earth completing the lifecycle from “Seed to Shade™” and back.
The Safeshade collection represents years of building relationships toward encouraging the industry as a whole that sustainability is in fact not only necessary but also possible. Exclusive fabric re-formulations and common sense solutions including the use of universal hardware drastically reduce energy and inputs. With work remaining, the Safeshade collection remains the lowest emitting commercial shading system in the world perfectly fit for a babies nursery. We reduce material, avoid nano and fossil fuel components, increase bio-based material, centralize manufacturing, use solar power options, and properly design and engineer insuring the longest service life until proper infra-structure for reclamation or recycling is in place. It is after all one thing to say a material is “recyclable” and yet another to be able to actually accept and ideally up-cycle the material as opposed to the more common down-cycling.
Better-Blinds by Earthshade represent years of investment and research with a goal of utilizing existing or fading infrastructure instead of replacement technologies. This small collection takes advantage of the green aspects of existing reclamation and recycling practices while omitting the traditional chemical based aspects. We do not deny the great amounts of energy used to create aluminum. We do however appreciate its strength, durability, low impact transportability, versatility, and opportunity for ongoing recycling that results in a net gain over the intense extraction process.
Following extensive research into the various certification and testing organizations around the world, Earthshade Natural Window Fashions remains above & alone with higher standards for health, purity, and sustainability than the strictest of testing procedures and third party rating systems.
Although many of our materials are certified, well known certifications fail to test window treatments under actual operating conditions (i.e. true temperature fluctuations from the sun throughout the day) falsely certifying conventional products that remain on the market without improvement of production or finishing techniques whatsoever. We invite you to call and discuss these facts further.
Earthshade Natural Window Fashions is one of the few organizations making an often time consuming commitment to understand and craft an aesthetically pleasing product without contributing to the rising health concerns of indoor air quality (IAQ).
Often disregarded by the medical world with limited regulation and little oversight by “green” rating systems; Science is increasingly proving that chemicals, concentrates and/or synthetic substances persist and accumulate over a lifetime, having a vast range of effect on health. The rise in production since World War II virtually matches the rise in ailments such as Cancer. More ambiguous is the rise in conditions such as Chemical sensitivity, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), Environmental Illness, and/or Allergies. With MCS in particular, symptoms can range from an occasional episode of coughing, sneezing, or wheezing, to headaches, dizziness, breathing difficulty, or even total incapacitation when one comes in contact with a simple trigger. Triggers can include simple fragrances, both natural and synthetic, to complex cumulative concoctions of common chemicals and additives found in nearly everything that is made or handled by humanity.
Because MCS is such a vastly misunderstood, understudied, and inherently complex fact for an increasing number of our friends and
neighbors, a real challenge arises when attempting to offer a “natural” product suitable for anyone and everyone. Earthshade Natural Window Fashions is committed to producing the truest and purest product of its kind without the practices and/or additives that so many others refer to as normal, necessary, or innocently “natural”. We rely on a vast network of small producers, transporters, and craftspeople. Obtaining 100% control can be a daunting task. We have found patterns or materials that are seemingly benign to most, to be inappropriate for others. Conversely we have found materials that some are cautious about to be completely satisfactory. 21st century canaries may rest assured that your time with us will be met with care, compassion, respect, and understanding. We are experienced and eager to assist in discovering the level of appropriateness or comfort our products may offer to each individual. Our distinct experience with Certifications including “GreenGuard”, “Oeko-tex”, GOTS, etc., coupled with nearly twenty years of testing and studying will provide a sound basis of discussion. In time we hope the rest of society will join us by acknowledging these signs of certain change.
Since 1999, Earthshade and partners have gained a deep understanding for the window fashions industry overall. Innovations have remained subtle concentrating profits among a decreasing supply chain. Many simply jump on the bandwagon, over emphasizing the slightest “eco-conscious” attributes their products may or may not actually embody.
Earthshade: Gathered primarily from Central and South America utilizing “Fair Trade Practices” when possible. Sun or air dried and crafted by hand. Naturally occurring Hydrogen Peroxide is used to cleanse and lighten fibers leaving NO residue. Darker coloration for select patterns is obtained through primitive oven baking.
Others: China or Southeast Asia with little regard for labor, environment, or truthful business practice. Kiln dried and treated with herbicide, fungicide, or other chemicals. Other product lines are often entirely fabricated from petroleum or chemicals. Import laws mandate universal fumigation to avoid transfer of regional pathogens.
Earthshade: Hand woven in our Mexico City facility by three generations of family for over 60 years. Cotton based threading. Weaves are generally 2 to 3 times tighter than most others. Finishing agents, including lacquer, stains, mildewcides, UV protectants or other chemicals are NOT necessary, and not used. The only exception is the use of a water and Potassium based traditional wash to four patterns.
Others: Also produced in China or Southeast Asia often with petroleum based threading and as little material possible. Chemical based finishing agents are applied universally. Again labor and environment are of little regard.
Earthshade: Mostly accomplished by hand by the same three generations utilizing the absolute highest quality recycled content hardware, cording, and FSC certified lumber. Scrap or paper is used for packing material in place of plastic.
Others: Generally done in the U.S. Union free, repetitive, bland factory environment. Air quality, light quality, and wages are of low priority. Large percentage of hardware is outsourced from the far east. Universally packed in plastic.
Earthshade: Since 1999, 98% of our customers report an above average experience with us.
Others: “Business as usual”, “Increase productivity and decrease cost”.
Our double strand weave w/ heavy cotton thread & 1 1/2″ spacing.
“Others” single strand with light weight synthetic thread & 2 1/2″ spacing.
1980: CW Swanson discovers the Green lifestyle in a fourth grade elective class titled SOS: Save Our Sources. Thank you Mrs Salvatore!
1981: Friend and son of “The Vegetarian Family” authors, Oliver is bullied out of school for choosing a healthy lifestyle.
1987: Swanson chooses the Vegetarian lifestyle for health reasons and begins a lifelong independent study of holistic healing.
1993: With a degree in Interior & Graphic Design, Swanson works with design industry icons on a range of prestigious projects.
1996: Swanson helps a good friend manage his recently purchased 30 year old custom closet and window fashions company.
1998: Following years of installing or servicing ten+ year old shades that continue to offgass, Swanson promises to change the world one window at a time!
1999: The original Earthshade collection is removed from the market in response to supplier lies! The current HappyShades collection is born on a handshake with the son of a three generation old weaving and shade crafting family who “simply get it”.
2002: Earthshade partners with an international textile company to develop the worlds first chemical free, fair trade, and lifecycle assessed linings.
2003: Following 100% successful testing, the entire Happyshades collection becomes the worlds first collection of backyard compostable shades.
2004: In response to architects and designers requests, Safeshades roller shades are developed to be the lowest emitting commercially viable roller shades in the world.
2009: Earthshade received its first customer letter of thanks for literally saving lives: Following a three year struggle against mold in their California home The Barry family credits their Earthshade purchase and ongoing customer service in healing once and for all the families decades long history of migraines, asthma, and childhood allergy issues.
2012: Continuing its commitment, The Safeshades Total Motorization concept becomes the worlds first automated shading system assessed and engineered with low/no Electro Magnetic Fields (EMF).
2015: Under the new umbrella CWSwansonlc; The Nebraska Naturals™ brand joins Happyshades™, Safeshades™, and Better-Blind™ in their own right. Nebraska Naturals™ introduces Farm-Frames™ as the first planned expansion into the world of totally pure product solutions for people and planet.
2019: Build Magazine Home and Garden Awards: Award for Excellence in Sustainable Residential Decor Products: Most Pioneering Fashionable Window Shade Company!
Present day: Three years in the making the Safeshades roller line 3.0 is due to be released. CW Swanson continues to help customers suffering from extreme chemical sensitivity, enjoys inspiring the next generation with the UNO school of Entrepreneurship, and has begun taking steps to create both a green living lifestyle site and continuing education curriculum.
Many factors affect the final cost of a product or goods. In addition to traditional production and market considerations, we are consistently looking at real costs including living wages, reduced carbon footprint, and many others that often include re-creating production practices to omit chemicals or other common practices. Sometimes we have to make additional considerations for import or other regulations that often add steps that other producers are not required to take in order to maintain purity. This graph shows one of the many results of a recently completed comprehensive market study for an “average” window size of 36″ wide x 48″ high for woven roman shades.