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Saving The Planet Does Not Cost The Earth

OVER the years of writing this column I’ve discussed many times the flaw, as I see it of the carrot and stick approach employed by ‘governments of the day’ to encourage us all to be more environmentally friendly, to recycle more and to choose sustainable options over those that clearly are finite.

As far as I can see it the size of stick almost always seems to outbalance the carrot we’re offered as an incentive to comply or modify our behaviour. Far from encourage us or motivate us to be greener, the big sticks of legislation, regulation and the associated costs, in my opinion, do little more than demotivate us, make trading even more difficult and encourage us to cut corners.

Worse, I think it subconsciously programmes us to think that being green, green practises and green products all will cost more. Take a recent site visit I made; in brief it was a wet floor that clearly needed a DPM but the main contractor, fearing the worst financially was favouring, without much thought or consideration, a sheet of polythene instead. I pointed out that we [Bostik] have recently developed a rapid DPM that would do the job perfectly here and more effectively and reliably than a sheet of polythene.

On discussing the said product I pointed out it formed part of our sustainable products range and was low VOC etc. I was immediately met with a glib ‘bet that costs,’ with a supporting argument that this is ‘because it’s green.’ Now before I get accused of a shameless self-promotion of a Bostik product I will add that his comment was quite universal and would have been tagged to any manufacturer’s green or sustainable products. Of course when we got down to talking actual cost it was rather less scary than he thought and was competitive with other products on the market.

This example returns me to my main point, why do we think green products are more expensive when this is certainly not always the case? Thing is, manufacturers, just like end-users have to change formulations and adapt to meet regulations and it’s not in our [all manufacturers] interest to develop products that are too expensive for people to use. I don’t blame anyone for thinking that anything green carries with it a price premium; I’ve walked the fruit and veg aisles in the supermarkets and seen the premium the label organic seems to add to the price of a carrot, but this is not universal.

Perceptions must change and installers must have an open mind to the new and sustainable products as well as be open to new ideas and working practises that embrace a greener future and not pull down the shutters through fear of increased cost. To be green in flooring is not about increased cost, although I accept that there are areas that still need work. But I also think that those installers that look to embrace change and at least consider green alternatives are those that will be more likely to succeed in the long-term. Sadly the process will only ever be going in one direction, so consider the process as an evolutionary one.

Ask if there is a green alternative to what you presently use and then consider the cost before dismissing it. Spend some time scanning CFJ for what’s new out there and see how you can adapt your working practises with an eye on being greener. It may not always be appropriate and there may yet be products for us manufacturers to invent to help you, but like it or not the future is green, but the good news is that it may cost less than we think.

John Alcock is technical specifications manager at Bostik

T: 01785 272727

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them online at