The products we use impact the environment at every stage: from manufacture to use to dealing with the ‘waste’ at the end of that usefulness.

Manufacturing, in most cases, means extracting and harvesting raw materials followed by refining those resources so that they can be made into components that are assembled into useful products.  Extraction (mining, drilling, and fracking,) and harvesting (especially trees or crops grown using petro-based agriculture) are extremely harmful to the environment. Whole mountains have been torn down in South Africa to obtain diamonds, and in West Virginia to obtain coal. The Amazon and the Olympic rain forests have dwindled drastically in size, destroying natural habitat and watersheds in the process. There is a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico at the mouth of the Mississippi because of all the farming chemicals that drain out there. And, of course, energy is used throughout all of these processes including transport, waste products that need to be disposed of are generated, and carbon is emitted into the atmosphere.

Now landfills, garages, and even the ocean, are full of ‘stuff’ that no longer has any productive purpose and, often, represents ongoing environmental damage. Repairing, recycling, reusing, and repurposing are all ways to reduce the impact of gathering materials to be made back into useful items, or to extend the life of these products. These approaches all help mitigate what are, often, the worst causes of negative environmental impacts in a product’s lifecycle. So, any products that are designed to have a long, efficient, useful life, be readily repaired, and/or easily recycled when that useful life is over can be said to be deliberately sustainable.

Beyond being highly energy efficient during operation, Ducoterra infrared radiant heating panels are made from only four basic component parts which are all sourced as close to the factory as possible. This greatly reduces the energy (and emissions) needed to transport them. They have a steel plate on the ceiling side, which is already a highly recycled material.  Aerogel, a high-tech insulation made from silica originally found in sandstone and other common rock, comes next and is non-toxic and completely recyclable. The heating element, (moving down from the ceiling-side,) is made from specialized wire which is, again, recyclable. And, finally, the whole thing is enclosed in a unibody (one-piece) aluminum box that closes in the sides and front (room-side) of the panel.

So, not only do Ducoterra infrared radiant heating panels have a lifetime warranty because they will last for decades of effective use, the materials to make them are not transported across oceans, they are energy efficient, and are easily recycled. And even the process of taking them apart and separating the materials for recycling couldn’t be simpler. When measured over time, the environmental impact of the panels is extremely low, and they represent a new and necessary approach to sustainability called cradle-to-cradle, which mimics natural cycles in how products are made and remade.

(see also: Part 1: Definition of Terms)