Sustainable sourcing - On the tiles

Bamboo flooring is the usual suspect when it comes to sustainable flooring, so I thought I’d turn to something different- tiling. Tiles continue to be a favourite way to bring in pattern and colour into our homes and interior schemes. The main environmental impacts from porcelain and ceramic tiles stem from the heat (energy) needed to cure and also transport them, processes which have historically involved relied on burning fossil fuels. Despite this, the durability offered by tiles means overall they are a sustainable option, especially in comparison with carpet or hardwood. Not all tiles are created equal, however, and some have stronger eco-credentials than others. I’ve relied on the trusty three R’s in sustainability (recycle, reduce, reuse) to share some of my favourite eco-conscious tiling options.

Eco Friendly Tiles VT.78; photo credit: Eco Friendly Tiles

Eco Friendly Tiles VT.78; photo credit: Eco Friendly Tiles

Reduce

Reducing as it relates to tiles means reduced thickness. There are now ultra-thin large format options which require much less resource to produce. Aptly named Eco Friendly Tiles, for example, offer a range for walls which are around 3.5mm and flooring materials from 5.6mm thickness – much thinner than standard 10mm + options. I love these black and white patterned files, which come in 150mm or 600mm square. In fact all their patterned tiles are fantastic. Worth noting is that it may be best to access samples and prices for Eco Friendly Tiles through an interior designer or architect.

Maitland & Poate colour patchwork; photo credit: Maitland & Poate

Maitland & Poate colour patchwork; photo credit: Maitland & Poate

Reuse

We’re lucky in the UK to be close to Spain and the Continent, where there never seems to be a shortage of gorgeous reclaimed patterned tiles. There are a few companies which go and get them for you as well (imagine the baggage fees otherwise!). One such is Bert & May, who are well-known among the insta-interiors world as their wares grace the halls of many insta-famous homes. The company started out offering reclaimed tiles, but now offer a range of other beautiful newly made tiles and white goods, etc. Another option is Maitland &  Poate, who stock similar reclaimed Spanish tiles and have their own lines as well. I love this pattern mix with pink undertones, available at £5/tile. Their website’s also helpfully organised by the square metres available.

ALIBUS Bowland Green; photo credit: ALIBUS

ALIBUS Bowland Green; photo credit: ALIBUS

Recycle

There are now many mainstream producers which offer tiles with recycled content, though this usually ranges from 10-40%. ALIBUS, however have some lines with 100% recycled content. One of my favourites is this deep ‘Bowland Green’ tile from their SilicaStone Glazed line. Prices are available on request. Another good option is Claybrook - check out their recycled range for cute small format mosaics.

Tiles are resource intensive

It’s worth reiterating that tiles are resource intensive to make and haul around, so I encourage you to keep what you have and work around them as long as you can stand it. They can last an absolute lifetime (if you let them). The most environmental (and economical natch) option is obviously to stick with the tiles you already have. But that’s a bit like telling teenagers abstinence is the best way to prevent… etc. etc. So if you’re just starting your pursuit of that wow-factor kitchen backsplash, bathroom, or downstairs loo floor, chances are you’re going to be scrolling through the countless options available (seriously why are there sooo many tile webistes?!). Why not use environmental credentials to narrow down your search?

Have you used sustainable tiling in your home? I’d love to hear from you about other chic environmentally-sound options, or even if you’ve managed to work around your existing tiles!


This post is in no way sponsored, it is based on my own research.