Mother Earth Living

Best for Kitchen and Bath

Wine vats become countertops, and old windshields become shower doors. These great products showcase the beauty of reusing and recycling.
By Misty McNally
September/October 2009

Eleek Zazen oil-rubbed bronze bath lavatory: $1,150. (503) 232-5526
Photo Courtesy Eleek
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Scrappy sinks

Eleek bathroom lavatories, made from hand-rubbed bronze in smooth, organic shapes, look more like art than plumbing. Better yet, they’re made from 90 percent recycled material.

Eleek, known for its eco-friendly light fixtures, moved into making recycled-metal bathroom fixtures to “use as much local scrap as possible,” cofounder Sattie Clark says. In addition to keeping scrap out of the landfill, “it cuts down the carbon miles on our product.”

Eleek offers patinas ranging from urban to rustic. “We offer five different finishes,” Clark says, “and we can oftentimes do a custom color. Plus, all of the nontoxic patinas
are applied by hand.” The sinks may be mounted into a vanity or installed as a vessel.

Eleek Zazen oil-rubbed bronze bath lavatory: $1,150. (503) 232-5526

New life for old plates

When designer Sarah Cihat was a student at Parsons The New School for Design in New York, the assignment for her senior thesis was to develop a new product. “I didn’t want to make anything new, to use more materials to make more things,” she says. “I don’t like planned obsolescence—buy this, throw it out, buy this, throw it out. I wanted to use something that already exists and make something new out of it.”

Cihat started experimenting and learned she could resurface and reglaze old dishes she found in thrift stores. “I started adding designs, and it took off from there,” she says. Cihat’s dishes feature unique motifs and retro backgrounds, ranging from classy chic to cute kitsch.

Sarah Cihat rehabilitated dishware dinner plate: $60

Drink to that!

Endurawood’s take on butcherblock countertops is truly “vintage.” “We get the wood from old wine vats here in Oregon and in California—primarily vats used to process red wines,” owner Ed Mays says. “They get a red stain where the material joins together, and people really like that. Every one is a little different.”

Mays—who built his own eco-friendly home in New Zealand before moving to the Pacific Northwest—is a member of the environmental protection group Oregon Natural Resources Defense Council. “I got into sustainable forestry to try to take pressure off clear-cutting,” he says.

Endurawood makes a variety of products from reclaimed and Forest Stewardship Council-certified lumber for residential and commercial projects.

Endurawood reclaimed wine vat countertop: (1½-inch thick, finished, ready to install): $90 per square foot (866) 263-3939

Bamboo hands

Our  Natural Home salad hands are made from bamboo, a fast-growing grass raised without pesticides or chemicals. Bamboo is also water-resistant, inhibiting bacterial growth in the kitchen.

“We’ve worked really hard to balance sustainability and affordability with this line of products,” editor-in-chief Robyn Griggs Lawrence says. “We want everyone to have access to beautiful, environmentally friendly kitchenware, so we’ve combined form and function in healthy products that our readers can be proud to have in their homes.” We donate a portion of each purchase to the nonprofit environmental preservation and restoration group American Forests.

Natural Home bamboo salad hands : $7. (800) 340-5846

Shower shield

In 2000, a rock chipped Second Glass founder Ron Sundholm’s windshield. At the repair shop where he had it replaced, Sundholm watched in dismay as the technician put his old windshield into a Dumpster. Out of school for the summer and working as a garbage collector, Sundholm already knew firsthand how many valuable materials get thrown out. “I thought, I’ve got to do something,” he says.

By 2006, he had developed a lamination process that secures old windshield glass into a completely safe, almost unbreakable panel—perfect for room panels, partitions and shower doors. "We call it functional art because each windshield has a different curvature, and they all come damaged differently,” he says. “They’re going to absorb and reflect light differently; every one of them is absolutely unique.”

Second Glass 24-by-64-inch frameless shower door (hardware included): $285 (plus shipping). (503) 750-3878


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