While working on a project the last month and wanting some texture, I came across the Wolf Gordon Earth Safe books in the showroom, featuring rice papers, grass cloths, and wood veneers “manufactured with sustainable materials and processes that are environmentally sensitive.” I am interested in more specific information, like, “Do your wallcoverings include binders, inks, dyes, fungicides, pesticides, pastes, or flame retardants,” which all contribute to poor indoor air quality with the outgasing of VOC’s?
Unfortunately, none of that information is available, and when I had asked for a spec sheet, I had to provide a vendor number. I realize that this is par for the course in the world of interior design, but since the advent of these intertubes, I believe a company’s goal, especially if that company is touting “green” products, should be transparency.
While my customer service rep, Jose, was extremely accommodating, the only useable information I received, for my purposes, at least, was the permeability rating. It’s 147, for the record. Which doesn’t mean all that much, since there isn’t any standardized permeability rating method in the wallcovering industry. A positive exists in that this particular Wolf Gordon wall covering does not have a backing, making it less a factor in being a party to any mold issues.
Through research, I learned that the Earth Safe line is part of a what Wolf Gordon calls its Ecological Reclamation Program. At the end of the product’s life cycle, the wall coverings can be returned (for credit) and applied to a variety of alternative, secondary uses. This line is composed of natural, renewable or recyclable materials and cellulose harvested from managed forests.
It would seem that the representatives at Wolf Gordon would be eager to share this sustainability program information on its “green” product spec sheet. I’m not sure why they choose not to. Hopefully, as consumers get more savvy in the questions that they ask and designers become more insistent in transparency and full-disclosure when it relates to “green” products, we can all raise the bar and elevate what will pass for “green” in our respective industries.