Choice, More Choice, Still More Choice
While we wait for approval for our plans, I want to write about another experience of this project. In my last post, I referred to selection materials and products that comply with our materials red list from the Living Building Challenge. This excludes a large part of the usual choice. This list is slightly nuanced, in that if we buy a unit for the air ventilation system that has a few components made from PVC, but there is no equivalent unit on the market that doesnt contain any PVC, then, so long as we explain our misgivings about the materials to the manufacturer, we can use that product in our building. We cannot, however, buy PVC piping.
You may think that this severely restricts our choice for materials and finishes. Actually, I am finding it makes the whole decision making process easier. The range of materials for flooring, or kitchen countertops is mind numbing. So much easier to eliminate two thirds of the options, given that those that are left are still often quite extraordinary, and very stylish. The industry is moving ahead, driven both by market forces, but also by the passion of people who start up a business because they want to make a difference. I am looking forward to sending out pictures of the 100% recycled hardwood floor that looks amazing. In this we are benefitting enormously from working with an architect team who have been committed to sustainability for years. The range of materials that they have sourced for us is fantastic.
I am reminded of the experience of East Germans after reunification. Suddenly they had access to a vast range of choice, from cars to washing machines to toothpaste. This is also the challenge faced by those who have been institutionalized for long periods. How do you make choices? Sometimes I wonder if we need all those options. If we take potato crisps, or frozen dinners, or underwear, do we really need to express our personal individuality by having unique underwear, or eating beetroot and chipotle crisps?
Whatever your answer to that question, I am happy that the criteria by which I decide which tiles to put on my bathroom floor have reduced the number of suppliers down to less than ten. I am also glad I do not work in the purchasing department of a supermarket.
I wish you all easy choosing.