Is Natural Stone Ethical?

Updated: Dec 7, 2020

At Semper we are very conscious of the materials we use for all of our projects and their impact on the environment. Marble and natural stone is a material which can be used for kitchen bench tops, splash backs, bathrooms, furniture – basically the list is endless. However, there is a big debate on whether natural stone is a sustainable and ethical choice.

Natural stones such as marble, limestone, granite have been used in buildings and homes for thousands of years. While there has been a surge in engineered stones being made available for consumers, the unique veining and colour of natural stone is almost impossible to replicate. Also, in recent years the push towards more sustainable living and design has seen a shift in the behaviour and practices of designers, builders and consumers. As designers we have been forced to consider and review the materials, techniques and practices we use for our designs, renovations, and new builds.

Photo credit: Tristan Auer

The Cons of Natural Stone:

In the past, extraction methods for mining natural stone have been very intensive and harsh on the environment. However, with modern technology, this process has been refined and improved so that the impact has significantly lessened. Over the past few decades and even centuries, quarries which produce natural stone have seen a constant evolution of practices and technologies to prevent unnecessary environmental damage and modern mining techniques have been implemented to drastically reduce the effects their activity has on the surrounding landscape, environment and wildlife. ‘

- CREDIT: Euro Marble

Photo Credit: Philippe Giacobino

The Pros

Natural stones are natural materials *obviously*, and does not need other materials or resources to create it. They are processed in a minimal sense and there are fewer harsh and nasty chemicals used in production. Using natural elements in your renovation or build helps create a more sustainable space as engineered stones do not break down in the environment as easily or as quickly, and can have long-term effects when they’re disposed of.

Many of the iconic buildings in the world including as the Taj Mahal, The Pantheon and St Peter's Basilica were made with marble – hundreds or thousands of years ago and have needed to receive only very little maintenance. Further, as a result of this, there has been less of a need to spend time, money and resources in their upkeep. By using natural stone in your home or business ensures that it will basically never have to be replaced and end up in landfill.

There are many ways to recycle/upcycle natural stones and this process is much simpler and easier than recycling building materials such as concrete. For example, smashed up marble pieces re-grouted can make an exciting new floor or wall feature (check out the gorgeous floor in the photo below). Old stone can be also used for mosaics, paving, restoring furniture and even retaining walls.

Photo Credit: Architectural Digest

All in all there are no ‘perfectly’ sustainable building materials. But for those who are as passionate about sustainable living and sustainable design like us here at Semper, being educated and making long term, ethical choices will help us balance out this beautiful world we live in and keep it for generations to come.

If you are interested in hearing more about sustainable living or how Semper Interiors can help you design your home please get in touch with us at

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