Coldharbour Tiles: Luxury Meets Sustainability
Founders: Emily Packer and Jake Calhoun
The chicest trend in interior design today is all about sustainability. Luckily, living more harmoniously with nature no longer means design and luxury must be sacrificed. Environmentally conscious brands are now offering more sustainable products and designs, allowing you to create the home of your dreams while incorporating your values of sustainable living.
One brand that deserves mention, especially if you’ve been thinking of re-tiling your kitchen or bathroom, is Coldharbour Tiles. Started in Rwanda by two American entrepreneurs, Coldharbour Tiles is a new luxury eco-tile brand made from 100% recycled plastic waste.
Motivated into action after learning that only 9% of plastics are recycled globally, the Founders of Coldharbour Tiles have combined their appreciation for high-end design with their personal fight against single-use plastics. The tiles’ unique stone-like appearance makes it hard to believe they’re made from recycled throw-away household items like shampoo containers and water bottle caps.
If this sounds like an appealing addition to your home, you’re in luck! From February 25th, to April 6th they’ll be offering some incredible discounts on Kickstarter, ranging from 30%-60% off, on three classic tile styles - hexagon, rectangle, and small mosaic square. You can choose from a variety of colors, (as seen in the chart below), given names with an environmental nod such as “2 Degrees” and “Plant a Tree.” They’ll also work with you to design your own custom-made tiles, producing that perfect color, and shape to complete your home and/or building design project.
To learn more about the backstory of Coldharbour Tiles, we asked Founder and CEO, Emily Packer, 32, a La Jolla native, to break down her reasons for starting the company, goals for the future, and thoughts on climate change.
Founding a green-startup must mean that you are optimistic about the future.
Is that fair?
“Yes, I’m generally a very optimistic person. But you can easily say we’re living in a time of crisis, environmental crisis. When imagining the future of my three children and what the planet might look like, I often have to breathe through that pit in my stomach that leaves me feeling helpless. Starting Coldharbour Tiles was a way for me to channel that energy into something positive.
In the early days, I was hand-collecting trash from various points in Kigali and bringing it to our warehouse. We had piles and piles of plastic trash all over the place. But to see that pile quickly shrink down into a stack of beautiful tiles was really encouraging. Our goal is to process over two tons of plastic waste per day, and the impact of that can be huge.
Being the Founder of a green start-up has really opened my eyes to an inspiring community of eco-warriors who are taking action, both big and small, to make a difference. It’s in times of crisis when there’s enormous room for innovation, creativity, and growth - and this is what I’m seeing around me.”
What’s so bad about plastic anyway?
“For a long time, we had this idea of throwing something “away” as if it would just disappear. Now we know that it doesn’t. The slow breakdown of plastics in landfills and oceans releases powerful greenhouse gases like methane which con
tribute to our planet getting hotter. It’s also led to the unwanted abundance of micro-plastics, which has been found in everything from fish to table salt. A recent study found that the average person consumes 70,000 pieces of microplastics per year.
I now personally seek out small ways that I can shift my everyday routine in order to become less dependent on plastic products and live life in a less wasteful way. Coldharbour Tiles in no way encourages or relies on the production of new plastic, but aims to clean up the plastic waste which already exists. We have a blog on our website which recommends easy plastic-free swaps for everyday items, like straws and body scrub, that I use in my own life.”
Where do you see Coldharbour Tiles in 5 years?
“In 5 years, I hope to see Coldharbour Tiles installed everywhere from apartment buildings to hotels to new homes. The more our company grows, the more of an environmental impact we can have, and that’s really exciting.
However, our mission from the beginning has always been to create a beautiful, high-quality product that can stand on its own, and I’m confident we have achieved this. The environmental benefits are just the cherry on the cake. But what a sweet cherry it is!”