Going Green with Your Carpet

Carpet provides soft, cushy flooring that can brighten a space — but all too often, carpet installation and fabrication are not environmentally friendly. Green floor covering alternatives such as reclaimed wood and concrete just don’t have the softness of carpet. While eco-friendly carpet manufacturers have historically been rare, more carpet companies are getting in on the green movement.

Types of Green Carpet

Traditional carpets can emit volatile organic compounds or VOCs, compounds that emit chemicals as they sit. Paint, paint strippers, cleaning products, and even clothing that has been dry-cleaned are other sources of VOC’s in the home. When considering an eco-friendly carpet, you’ll need to determine whether the carpet backing, carpet installation, and carpet fibers are free of VOCs or marketed as low VOC, both representing a friendlier choice than traditional carpeting.

Natural eco-friendly carpets contain few chemical compounds and can often be a good choice. These include fibers such as jute, sisal, bamboo, seagrass, coir, organic cotton, and organic wool. However, if a natural carpet was treated with a flame retardant or insect repellent, you may still be at risk for VOCs. Recycled carpets are another eco-friendly carpet choice and can be made from recycled plastics or industrial carpet scraps. Recycled carpets made from plastic are often sold under brand names, including Permalon and Resistron.

While there are carpet manufacturers dedicated to providing natural carpets, traditional carpet manufacturers also offer a range of environmentally friendly carpets. These companies use both natural fibers and responsible manufacturing products, reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions in their factories. At Contract Carpet, we can guide you through the full range of environmentally friendly carpet choices.

Next steps

With any carpet purchase, discuss carpet installation and carpet backing with your carpet provider to make sure they are not introducing chemicals into your home. Carpet backing can actually be a major cause for concern and one that some shoppers may overlook. Backings that are sewn or glued on with non-toxic glues are a safer and greener bet than chemical adhesives that can cause off-gassing.

Additionally, consider the lifecycle of your carpet. Eventually you or someone else will want to remove or replace it. Many eco-friendly rugs are designed to be biodegradable or recyclable, making their disposal both easy and green. This helps ensure that the new carpet you purchase doesn’t cause an environmental problem down the road when you go to replace it.

To continue the green lifecycle, try to dispose of your old carpet in a responsible manner. Some carpet companies offer a take-back program that allows you to recycle your old carpet when you have the new eco-friendly carpet installed. Your old carpet can then be recycled into someone else’s carpet or downcycled into another product, giving new life to your old rug. Ask whether the carpet manufacturer or installer provides a recycling option when having new flooring installed.

Green carpet certification programs help customers choose responsible carpets. Cradle to Cradle, CRI Green Label Plus, BRE Environmental Assessment, The Sustainable Carpet Standard, and Good Environmental Choice are among the available green carpet certification programs.

Once you install low or no VOC carpeting, continue to provide earth friendly care. Use natural cleaning products that do not emit chemicals as much as possible. Vacuum or steam clean carpets to remove dirt and debris and use natural spot cleaners to treat stains. The professionals at Contract Carpet can discuss proper carpet care including environmentally friendly carpet cleaning measures.

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