Pottery Barn Turns Over New Green Leaf With Improved Labeling


Pottery Barn's Green Glass Tumblers are made from recycled Bordeaux wine bottles. Photo: Pottery Barn.

I love it when a retail giant highlights eco-friendly products, so when I picked up Pottery Barn's Christmas 2008 catalogue, I was excited to see they have labeled items to make it easier for eco-conscious shoppers to find green products. It's a big step forward from where Pottery Barn stood a year ago, when, as TreeHugger Collin Dunn pointed out, their Eeco-chic classification was little more than lip service. Collin noted conventional cotton bedding and medium density fiberboard-framed furniture were labeled "Eco Chic" alongside 100 percent organic cotton bedding. As he wrote, "...visitors to their site really have to work to figure out what's green, and that's no way to sell 'eco chic' to anybody."

So here we are a year later, and a lot has changed. Rather than whole collections being branded Eco Chic, Pottery Barn has taken steps to carefully identify green items. A little green leaf beside the product name in their catalogues tells shoppers the product is made with natural, sustainable, eco-certified or reclaimed materials.

From a marketing standpoint, it's a great idea, and from a consumer standpoint, it's a huge help if you're busy but want to make a green choice. The green leaf logo is also a feature of Pottery Barn's website, but it appears half-way down the webpage, rather than up top with the product information. So there is a bit of work to do yet online.

But it's not all bad news in the cyber-world: The website does list organic bedding and natural fiber rugs as sub-sections to help customers weed out many non-eco-friendly products (think conventional cotton and synthetic rugs).

The product information also identifies the eco-friendly characteristics of the items. For example, my favorite find, a set of four Green Glass Tumblers are described as follows:

"Our recycled glass pieces bring new life to beautiful Bordeaux bottles. To make each tumbler, artisans with the family-owned Green Glass Company—an American glass studio—halve the original wine bottle and hand finish each rim. Their signature technique makes use of the entire bottle, with minimal processing. Glasses come in a recycled-paper crate-style box."

The online product information is more extensive, listing the composition and construction as well as features and benefits of items, both of which highlight the natural materials—in this case, recycled glass and recycled packaging.

While both the print catalogue and website offer slightly different features, the catalogue is great for speedy in-store shopping trips and finding eco-products, while the website functions best as a source of more information on specific products once you have found them.

Of course we can always hope the web designers will wise up and add a green leaf tab alongside their traditional product categories to truly make eco-friendly shopping a breeze. For now, I'm content that it's a little bit easier being green.

Top Eco Picks:

The Woodland Organic Cotton Fiber Bedding and Organic Hemstitch Bedding collections land high on my faves list for their eco-friendliness—traditional cotton production uses an alarming amount of pesticides, herbicides and insecticides—and for their fantastic design. The hemstitch sheet set lets the natural texture of cotton shine, and the Woodland duvet cover's art-like print of colorful trees and flowers will cheer up any room.

Another item I love is the the Flat-Braided Jute Rug, which is hand-spun and made from jute, a natural plant fiber derived from one of two Asian plants (often called jute plants). Jute is a great alternative to petrochemical-based rugs, and it's softer than sisal, so it feels great underfoot. Plus I love the natural tones and textures of the rug—and the fact it comes in sizes up to 9' x 12'.

Last, but certainly not least, the Seagrass Headboard is stunning. The sustainable seagrass is hand-braided over a wood frame, adding a rich textural backdrop for your bed. I love the range of tones that move across the headboard like grass dancing in the seaside breeze.

Tags: Bedrooms | Carpets | Furniture | Pesticides | Reusability