Environmentally Friendly Sinks and Basins
Sinks and basins in kitchens and bathrooms are an absolute, so ensuring that you are using the most environmentally friendly products in your home is our obligation to you and your green design.
As most common sinks and basins are made from stainless steel, stone, porcelain or acrylics, it can be tough to find a product that works well in the green home. Luckily, we have sourced a few options, some better than others, that will ensure your project is sustainable, green and earth friendly.
Recycled Aluminum, Bronze and Copper Sinks and Vessels
Recycled metals are fast becoming an environmentally friendly sink option for your home. Using post consumer and industrial scrap aluminum, bronze and industrial salvaged copper, these sinks are melted down and cast into silicone molds to form various shapes and designs.
The recycled aluminum and bronze sinks are made from the highest levels of post consumer scrap (80-100%) and are available in various designs, finishes and styles. All three metal sinks will take on a natural patina to them over time.
Rocky Mountain Hardware & Eleek Inc, two leading manufacturers of recycled metals for sinks, calls bronze sinks a "living finish" and recommends waxes and sealers be used to retain the original design and luster should you wish. The process of smelting metals does take on high levels of energy consumption but by using locally sourced materials and recyclables, reusing water in the molding process and incorporating the highest levels of recycled materials available, will help offset that output.
These sinks are beautiful, time tested and durable. The best thing is if over time, you choose to replace your sink, take it back to be recycled, molded and reused once more.
Recycled Matrix Concrete Sinks and Vessels
Concrete sinks, vessels and bowls have been a around for years and are now becoming more green as manufacturers begin mixing these sinks with recycled materials such as 100% post consumer glass, recycled porcelain, coal fly ash and organic compounds to create beautiful and durable designs.
Of course each component is different and the production of Portland cement (the most common cement mixture) does contribute to high levels of carbon dioxide emissions but some of these manufacturers have begun using ceramic cement in their compositions.
Vitrastone and Lithistone, both use ceramic cement which uses approximately 20-40% less energy than standard Portland cement thus reducing the carbon footprint of theses sinks. For the most part, these ceramic cement matrix sinks are VOC free with little to no off gassing. Much of the recycled glass and porcelain used is sourced locally and from within 100 miles of their plants.
One interesting design idea being implemented by Michelle Kaufman Designs is the use of various organics in their mixtures. Think rice hulls, recycled porcelain and fly ash, to help add colour and design elements to their sinks. Most or all of these eco friendly sinks do have sealers applied before delivery and there is some maintenance required by adding occasional waxing to preserve color, sheen and water repellence. Try and use an all natural wax or Carnauba wax when maintaining your cement matrix sinks.
Recycled Glass Sinks and Vessel Sinks
Recycled glass seems to be everywhere these days and it's no surprise to find it in the green design and manufacture of sinks and vessel sinks.
Recycled glass sinks are probably more suited to the bathroom as they are not as durable as concrete or recycled metal sinks. The recycled glass is locally sourced from post consumer glass such as recycled beverage bottles and industrial glass from windows, windshields and construction sites. The recycled glass is heated and shaped flat then formed into a high recycled content vessel sink or bowl.
These sinks and vessels can be also be mixed with other recycled aggregates like porcelain, grass and cloth fibres to create interesting designs, patterns and color options for your bathroom. These sinks are VOC free and are extremely easy to clean and maintain. Be sure to use a VOC friendly glass cleaner on any flat surfaces and avoid using abrasives that scratch.
Solid Surface Sinks
The use of acrylics in the manufacture of solid surfaces do not make them a particularly green product during construction but because of their durability, low VOC emissions and ability to use recycled aggregates, we feel they can be green in some regards.
The important decision to make when considering using inlaid and solid surface sinks is supplier side. Ensure that the product you use either has a level of recycled aggregate in the manufacture, think recycled porcelain and glass, or that the manufacturer follows environmentally friendly practices. WilsonArt is a leading solid surface manufacturer who is certified by Greenguard, a certification process confirming low emission guidelines are met for chemicals and particulates during construction.
The Sexy Green Home Opinion
Thankfully there are several great environmentally friendly options for you when designing your green kitchens and bathrooms. Be sure to choose a product that best suits your needs, budget and family considerations. Combining these sinks with green countertops and water conservation faucets, will help reduce your energy bills, improve the air quality of your home and preserve more natural resources. Have fun in your design and remember to keep it green!