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GREENTIPS - In Praise of Green Carpets (01/06) January 16, 2006 11:17 AM

In Praise of Green Carpets (and Rugs)
January 2006
Read this issue of Greentips online

According to the Carpet and Rug Institute, carpet covers about 70 percent of the floors in U.S. homes and workplaces. This may not be surprising considering that carpet is relatively inexpensive, helps reduce noise, and is easy on the feet, but few people realize the environmental impact it can have over its lifetime.

Carpet and rug manufacturing consumes large quantities of energy and water, and involves chemicals (especially in the dyeing process) that contribute to air and water pollution. Furthermore, the synthetic fibers used in most carpets are made from petroleum--a non-renewable fossil fuel--and take an extremely long time to biodegrade. That's a significant concern when approximately 3.5 billion pounds of carpet are added to landfills every year.

Nevertheless, it is possible to enjoy the benefits of carpet while reducing your impact on the environment. Here are some suggestions:

Choosing a Carpet

  • Avoid carpet containing adhesives, which emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that affect indoor air quality.
  • Choose natural fibers such as wool, hemp, corn leaves/stalks, cotton, sea grass, jute, sisal, or coir. Look for those that have been treated with as few chemicals as possible (including adhesives and mothproofing or stain-resistance treatments).
  • The best synthetic-fiber option is solution-dyed, which requires much less water than conventional dyeing methods.
  • Avoid wall-to-wall carpeting. Area rugs are available in large sizes and are easier to remove for cleaning or replacement. If you do choose wall-to-wall carpeting, have the carpet tacked down instead of glued down; this will reduce your exposure to the VOCs in adhesives, reduce floor damage, and make the carpet easier to remove later. Or, consider using carpet tiles that can be replaced as they wear out, avoiding the need to dispose of the entire carpet. Some companies offer refurbished tiles that have been cleaned and re-dyed; in some cases, this option will cost less than new carpet.
  • Consider recycled carpeting. Some carpeting is made with fibers recycled from post-consumer materials such as plastic soda bottles or old carpeting.
Disposing of Carpet

  • Donate. Consider donating good-quality used carpet and rugs to charities rather than discarding them.
  • Recycle. Depending on the material, a local company may be willing to remove your old carpet and recycle it into new carpeting or carpet backing (known as closed-loop recycling), or other items such as automotive parts (known as recycling down).
  • Do not incinerate carpeting, which releases harmful toxins into the atmosphere.
For more information:

Green Home

The Carpet and Rug Institute

Green Seal-Carpets

Carpet America Recovery Effort


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 January 16, 2006 11:18 AM

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 [ send green star]
 January 16, 2006 1:23 PM

Did that some time ago:)  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
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