Greenwashing – What is actually a green product?

In recent years, in both construction and other industries, we have seen the rise of ‘green’ or sustainable products. Consumers have never been more aware of the impact of their purchases and many people work hard to select products that contribute fewer carbon emissions to the environment, in order to affirm their sustainable values.

Many large corporations seek to take advantage of this demand and claim their products are greener or more sustainable than they actually are. In some cases, they might even make claims that they are green when there’s no evidence of this whatsoever. Using creative marketing tools to imply that products or services are green is known as “greenwashing”.

Because there is little to no industry regulation, greenwashing is everywhere, which means you need to do more research about the product before you decide if it really meets your expectations.

The term greenwashing was first used by New York environmentalist Jay Westerveld in 1986. He wrote a university essay outlining the way a hotel was encouraging people to re-use their towels, but simultaneously expanding, with more properties being built on the site.

He believed that given the resort was growing, the reduced frequency of towel washing would make little difference to the company’s carbon emission output, although it created a sense of environmental care. “It all comes out in the greenwash,” he wrote in the essay, which is still widely referenced today.

Find out more about Durra Panel
Durra Panel - Green washing

Looking beyond the green tags

If something is labelled as green, it’s essential to look beyond the tag and understand the realities of the label, rather than taking it at face value. For example, some timber varieties will be labelled green because of the way that they are grown, cut or transported, but these manufacturing processes might not reduce incidents of logging.

When choosing materials to build with, it’s essential to consider the product’s whole lifecycle – from manufacturing to end-of-life. The material itself might be natural, but was land cleared to grow it? Does it become waste that can’t decompose at the end of its life?

A real green product

Take the example of our Durra Panel, which is manufactured from wheat and rice straw. It is a product created from agricultural waste by-product that would be burnt and contribute more carbon emissions after harvest if was not re-purposed. In recycling this waste, we give it another life.

During manufacturing, we use heat at pressure to compact the material and form a solid panel. The only additional materials are water based PVA glue and a recycled Kraft liner paper, which makes it one of the most sustainable materials you can use. While it’s natural, it’s also extremely strong, the dense packing of the straw enables the panel to store carbon, in turn making it heat and fireproof.

Not only is it sustainably produced, Durra Panel’s whole lifecycle is environmentally friendly. In the event that you build a home and later want to demolish it, the Durra Panel becomes completely recyclable, completing its life as garden mulch or fertiliser.

When building a three-bedroom home with Durra Panel, you’ll require approximately seven acres of straw. That straw grows again within a year as a result of harvesting. Compare that to the 44 trees required to build a standard plaster wall house. This would require the clearing of approximately half an acre of forest trees that will take another three decades to grow again.

We are proud to say we produce a truly green product and encourage you to consider your materials carefully as we continue to battle climate change in the construction industry. It is possible to build a green property that is sustainably manufactured, used for housing and later recycled if required. It is our hope that in time the use of such materials becomes the industry standard.

Learn more about Durra Panel sustainability