Shadegrades™ The Industries First Rating System

Shade Industry Report Card

We are often asked “how do other shading products compare to the exclusive Earthshade accomplishments?”

Following decades of experience and research, the opinions below simplify a long standing and complicated industry. The industry as a whole has several stars who without years of commitment, even the Earthshade line would not be possible. Some of these products include positive attributes such as energy savings. As a result we feel it unfair to create a grading system with failure as a grade.

In a society where we are taught to specialize, few step back to look at the whole picture. In many cases the emerging ramifications of concentrated chemicals are a result of innocent and creative problem solving along with “one hand not necessarily knowing what the other hand is doing”. Material sourcing and lifecycle, durability, ease of use, level of exposure, miles of travel, processing energy, isolation and concentration of materials, water management, end of use options, care for labor, and many more principles will continue to emerge as a true definition for the “cost of goods.”

The Earthshade Clean Roman shade gets an "A"

Pure and Safe for People and Planet

  • HappyShade™ by Earthshade Roman
    Hand crafted without chemicals or finishes: The purest, fair trade, compostable window fashions in the world.
  • HappyTrack™ by Earthshade Panel Glide
    The clean, compostable, fair trade answer to the vertical blind.
Roller shade industry receives a grade "B"

Clean and Durable Industry Leader

  • SafeShades™ by Earthshade Roller
    Manual, clutch, and motorized roller shades featuring a variety of the lowest emitting high performance shading fabrics in the world.
  • Better-Blind™ by Earthshade
    Unfinished, uncoated, recycled aluminum Metallic, Venetian, or Mini-blind. Durable, lightweight, versatile, and economical style.
C grade for industry metallic shades

Worldwide Industry Options

  • Metallic, Venetian, Mini Blinds
    Once a staple shading product recommended in “Green Living” guides for its low cost high recycled content (20 – 60%) and cured finish. Remaining Vane suppliers surveyed have opted away from the costly cured powder coating to today’s standard pigmented polyester coating making these rarely suitable for customers with chemical sensitivities.
  • Curtains: Organic
    US Organic textiles certification strictly pertains to the growing of the fiber only. Many certified organic textiles continue to be milled and finished with chemical based processing. When 16% of the worlds pesticide usage is devoted to cotton production, Organic textiles remain a worthy consideration for our children’s future.
  • Conventional Roller
    Almost always synthetic with proprietary finishes, and perhaps the most “greenwashed” products known; Conventional roller shades represent one of the industries greatest opportunities to self regulate toward a cleaner, greener, and truly sustainable lifecycle.
Wood Blinds receive a "D" grade

Run of the Mill

  • Real wood blinds
    Although most wood producing forests are managed to some degree of sustainability today, most fabricators use Asian based suppliers that incorporate chemicals at every step making even water born finished blinds more often ill-suited. Concentrated profit and poor labor standards also remain a concern across the board.
  • Vertical Blinds
    Aesthetics aside, mostly synthetic if not PVC; vertical blinds are rated slightly higher for their efficient use of textile material and general functionality. Indoor air quality particularly as the material heats and cools throughout the day remain a primary concern.
  • Curtains: Conventional
    Chemical based or synthetic fiber production, chemical dyes, chemical finishes, water and energy intensive, child and sub standard labor practices, with long distance supply lines. Curtains offer the opportunity for long term off-gassing, dust proliferation, and contamination of waterways.
Chemical laden honeycomb shades

Taking Chances

  • Honeycomb or other synthetic shading systems
    Petroleum based and arguably the highest use of chemicals (known carcinogens) in multiple steps to create the structure and colorize. Although one of the more energy efficient shading choices, honeycomb shades are of particular concern for offgassing (often odorless) under summer heating conditions where gasses concentrate between the glass and the shade.
  • Pleated shades
    Basically one half a honeycomb shade with lower energy performance. As an entry level product there is only one category below for sustainability, safety, and indoor air quality; Vinyl or PVC shades off the shelf from a big box or hardware store.
  • Faux Wood Blinds
    Faux wood blind construction incorporates nearly every negative comment we have made above from unsustainable energy intensive synthetic composition to finishing, poor labor practice, and sub-standard durability outweighing any possible positive marketing pitch.
  • In their hay-day, Honeycomb shades accounted for a large percentage of the worlds window fashions, shades, and blind market! Chances are you or someone you know has them! Or maybe you took advantage of the then new finishing technology that finally allowed us all the pleasure to hang silk draperies on our windows without the sun eating them away in short time. We can’t change the past. It is important that we use what we learn from yesterday’s choices to inform those of today for a greater chance of a better tomorrow.

ShadeGrades™ Criteria

  • Sustainability including material source (extracted? renewable?) processing (water, labor, and energy), community building or deconstructive, distance traveled, durability, and end of use opportunities.
  • Performance in the traditional sense of operational ease, light control, privacy, insulation, energy conservation, and heat control. This is also where the potential impact on the carbon footprint and health of workers at every step of the extraction, processing, fabrication, delivery, installation, and end use are considered and/or measured.
  • Impact or potential impact on ones wallet over the course of a products life including direct expenses such as initial cost, energy savings, and cost to infrastructure (taxes). For example, a product polluting a landfill (and watershed) at the end of its life will require taxes from the collective population to pay in one form or another to mitigate (if possible) somewhere down the road.
  • Health for you and your family as well as people bringing goods to you, remain the obvious starting place including potential impact on indoor air quality (a reduction of a known carcinogen does not insure safety). Research is just beginning to understand that everything we come in contact with today has a lasting and cumulative effect which will determine our tomorrow. The health of other systems (eco, economic, political) must be considered beyond ones personal interests as societies opportunity to thrive depends on the health of all its systems whether understood or not.