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Stone is a natural and sustainable building material. But what does that actually mean?

The definition of sustainable in the Cambridge English Dictionary is “causing, or made in a way that causes, little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time.“ Natural stone as a building material fully envelopes this definition.

For centuries, natural stone has been a popular choice of building material both internally and externally in buildings. This is mainly due to it’s ability to withstand the test of time. We think of the marble in the Taj Mahal or the limestone on the beautiful façade of Buckingham Palace that continues to endure elegantly. Both of these magnificent buildings demonstrate the longevity that using natural stone provides.

However, if we are extracting stone from the environment, are we not damaging it? How can we be sure that using natural stone is the most environmentally friendly choice for our homes?

Selecting your stone:

Whilst quarrying for stone has an obvious impact on the environment, there are ways to ensure that you limit this. Most quarries will produce a report on the sustainability of their processes and provide information of this on their website.

By choosing a local stone, you can also further reduce your carbon footprint. Many of the higher quality porcelain and ceramic tiles are actually produced outside of the UK, using intensive manufacturing processes. Compare this to the natural product that is right on your doorstep and you are definitely being kinder to our planet by choosing British stone.

The UK is known for producing some of the most stunning quality limestones. Architects make good use of the natural stone found in the Cotswolds to create authentic and beautiful homes, from outside and within.

Caring for your stone:

Natural stone should not be cleaned with harsh chemicals. Unfortunately, many every day cleaning products are both packed full of chemicals and very detrimental to the environment.

For marble especially, the advice is to clean with warm soapy water. As an alternative, possibly safer option, there are specially formulated products for cleaning stone which are specifically low on chemicals in order to reduce the chance of damaging your stone. As an extra bonus, less harsh chemicals obviously means more eco-friendly too.

Further to this, the longevity of natural stone can be hugely increased if it is cared for properly. Athena Stonecare has recently launched a new guide helping customers care for their stone. This includes advice on cleaning products, cleaning processes, and other tips and advice to protect your stone from damage. When it comes to the life span of natural stone, a simple bit of maintenance can go a really long way .

Restoring your stone:

If cared for properly, it can stand the test of time. In fact, one of the main advantages of natural stone over other materials is its longevity. Whereas a chipped or cracked porcelain tile will need replacing, natural stones such as marble, limestone and travertine can be restored, and quite often looks just as good as the day of installation.

Furthermore, the processes used to restore stone are usually chemical free. The surface of the stone is ground away using diamond abrasives. This will remove scratches and etch marks and reveal a fresh layer of stone that can be polished. This can be done many times, simply using water and electricity from your home. Most of the sealants then used to protect the stone have been developed to be eco-friendly too.

Recyclability:

Due to its ability to be restored back to its original beauty, stone is very easily recyclable. They say that one man’s waste could be another man’s treasure. It has never been truer in the case of stone. Masons are extremely skilled in their ability to transform a material, such as a marble worktop, removed from one home into a feature piece for another. When sourcing smaller amounts of stone for your home, this could be a more sustainable, and also cheaper, option to go with.

The advice we would always give when choosing to use any material in your home, including stone, is to do your research first. Natural stone does need to be looked after properly to ensure that it lasts, but through doing so you can ensure that your home is even more eco-friendly.

Sustainability is something that we are passionate about and it runs through the core of our business. This is something that we share with many other businesses. Recently we set about educating ourselves on what being a sustainable business really means. As such, we interviewed four other industry experts: Johnston Quarry Group, Ashleigh Clarke Architects, FILA Surface Care Solutions and The Stone Federation of Great Britain. Over the coming weeks we will be sharing the insights provided in these interviews.

Follow us on LinkedIn for updates.

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