Thinking about being good to nature and making sustainable products is not really very high on most top design brands agenda. Often the few brands that do it, only make smaller products, so they can say they do ”sustainability”. I would love to see more brands think the entire design process through, so they could eventually become 100% sustainable.
Did you know that Danes are top of the list when it comes to the amount of garbage per inhabitant? That is really a terrible thought I think. Denmark is leading in thinking sustainable when it comes to so many things, e.g. energy sources.
One brand that I really think is on the right track is Auping. They have adapted the Cradle-to-Cradle philosophy and are now working to secure a 100% sustainable production and beds before 2020 – some of their beds are already there. I sat down with the Danish CEO Morten Lund Petersen to learn more about Cradle-to-Cradle and why they think it is so important.
Tell me about Cradle-to-Cradle?
Cradle-to-Cradle is an idea about imitating nature. It is basically about the fact that nature recreates itself over and over again; when a tree grows or falls, it becomes nutrition for new trees and flowers etc. that is exactly the idea that Auping likes. That everything is not just turned into garbage, but the things and products we surround our self with is recycled and turned into new products.
You can divide Cradle-to-Cradle into two sections. One that imitates nature directly, the biological recycling, the other is the technical circuit, where you make clean products that can be reused over and over again.
When we look at the world, pretty much everyone knows that we can’t continue in the same direction as we have done up until now. We cannot continue to dump plastic in the Atlantic Ocean, we cannot continue to drive polluting cars, so we have to change the linear life cycle that we use on products today, i.e. you use a product and get rid of it as garbage. In Denmark a lot of our garbage is burned, which is not a particular long-lasting and sustainable direction. Cradle-to-Cradle doesn’t work with the linear life cycle, it is circular, which means that you develop and produce in a way that eventually will have zero impact on nature. In other words, our products cannot have an adverse impact on the environment, it cannot have an adverse impact on the recycle and it cannot impact nature through our factory – all something we have come a long way with in Auping. If we look at our matresses, then we recycle 99%, if we look only at our Essential bed, we recycle 100%. Most of our range is Cradle-to-Cradle certified. We don’t only strive to get the products certified; we want the entire way we produce to be certified.
How do you recycle a bed 100%?
When someone buys one of our matresses and eventually done sleeping in it after 8-10 years, we will collect and recycle it in our factory. One of the important factors within the Cradle-to-Cradle philosophy is the fact that you don’t reduce the products’ value in any way; you have to use clean aluminium, so it can be used over and over again. If we contaminate it with other alloys, then it will be very difficult to recycle. This also means that we need to know about the entire chain of production.
I also think it is important to say that other environmental labels actually allow minimum limits, so products with their labels can contain carcinogenic materials, just not that much. This is not the case with Cradle-to-Cradle; it allows nothing at all. It also means that even small amounts of carcinogenic materials will eventually, when recycled repeatedly, accumulate itself to be more and more in each product and eventually contaminate you and the environment. So there is a zero tolerance for any harmful or dangerous chemicals in Auping’s beds.
How does this benefit the consumer? Will we sleep better?
Look at your immediate environment. You lie in bed for about 8-10 hours per day, if this amount of time is spent in a bed produced at the wrong factory with the wrong materials, then it could potentially contain carcinogenic materials, something we unfortunately do not know the long-term effects off.
Then there is the pride of sleeping in a sustainable bed from a supplier who doesn’t pollute. You know you have bought a bed, which is a resource and not just garbage when you are not sleeping in it. It will enter a new cycle and be 100% recycled over and over again.
We really also want to appeal for diversity, I mean look at almost any bed advertisement. They all look alike, they don’t really insist on getting people to spend money on beautiful and quality beds. We spend a lot of money on designer furniture for the living room, which we eventually spend way less time in than our bed. At Auping you can get more or less the bed you want, we can produce around 10 million different beds in 2 weeks. You can get exactly the length, height and width you want and choose any headboard and the hardness of the mattress – so diversity is very important, something that contributes to make the world more alive and exciting.
What about price then?
Actually the beds produced at our new factory have been lowered in price. During the past five years we have reduced our price range. Of course the consumer should also benefit from thinking sustainable.