A Guide to Green Carpeting

A Guide to Green Carpeting

Carpeting your home has a number of advantages: the right comfy floor covering can insulate your home, cut down on noise, and keep your feet toasty warm. But there are also a number of environmental concerns you should be aware of before you shop for carpets so that you can make sure your home is as safe as it can be.

Concerns about carpets

The biggest concern when it comes to carpets is volatile organic compounds (VOCs), gaseous fumes emitted by solvents, paints, and other products that contribute to a range of health problems from respiratory symptoms to asthma to cancer. VOCs are especially dangerous indoors, where they can reach much higher concentrations than they do outside, which is why VOCs from carpets are such a problem. Many of the products used to install carpets, included glues and sealants, release VOCs, and sometimes the carpet itself can be a source of VOCs if it is treated with stain protectants, fungicide, or dyes.

Carpets can also be a big problem for people who suffer from allergies. The same fibers that keep your home warm and comfy will also trap allergens settling out of the air. This means that every step you take on your carpet is stirring up clouds of pet dander, mold spores, and pollen – a nightmare for anyone with allergies. Carpets can also be a breeding ground for microorganisms like mold, especially if the underlying padding gets wet from spills or pet accidents.

Buying green

Despite all these concerns, it is possible to keep clean, safe carpeting in your home. The first step is to select an eco-friendly carpet made from a natural fiber like wool (stay away from synthetic fibers made from petrochemicals) that is free from chemical additives like stain protectants, dyes, and antimicrobials; also look for non-toxic padding made from recycled cotton or felt. Next, you’ll want to make sure that the installation is done without toxic sealants. You can avoid chemicals altogether by having your carpet tacked down, but if you do chose to use a glue, look for a non-toxic adhesive with low VOCs. Finally, once the carpet is installed, apply a carpet sealer that will prevent VOCs and other chemicals from escaping into your home.

Keeping it clean
Sebo Allergy Vacuum

Sebo Allergy Vacuum

Another important part of greening your floors is making sure that your carpet stays clean. An allergy vacuum will pick up small particles that regular vacuums leave behind while a steam cleaner used with a green carpet shampoo is great for getting rid of stains and for sanitizing your carpet. And if you’ve got pets, an enzyme spot cleaner will break down the mess your dog or cat leaves behind and do away with stains and odors.

Disposing of old carpet responsibly

Eventually even the best carpets get worn down, which means you’ll need to find a responsible way to dispose of your old flooring. If it’s still in good shape, consider selling or donating your old carpet to give it new life: many cities have nonprofits that will accept used carpets. Those that can’t be reused can be recycled into mulch, insulation, and other construction materials, although processing carpet is difficult and drop-off centers are still few and far between. Check with local dealers or at www.carpetrecovery.org to find organizations in your area that will accept carpet for recycling.

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