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Smarter Choices for Your Dog and You

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Green Flooring Materials
Many kinds of flooring materials can be considered green, including:

There are basically two types of wood: softwoods, which come from rapidly growing trees like pine and fir, and hardwoods, such as oak, maple, teak, etc. Be sure all wood is FSC certified and does not come from old-growth trees. Even better, use reclaimed/recycled wood. Wood flooring is easy to clean with simple products like vinegar and water. Only use zero- to low-VOC and plant-based sealants.

There are more than a thousand different species of this fast-growing woody grass. It is stronger than most hardwoods, and, like wood, can be sanded and refinished multiple times. (Luckily, the type used for flooring is not the kind pandas feed on.) After harvesting, it quickly regenerates. TIP: Even if it comes factory-finished, experts recommend resealing it to protect it from doggy water-bowl spills.

Made from linseed oil, a byproduct of flax (Oleum Lini). It is antibacterial, making it ideal in kitchens and bathrooms. It is also antistatic, so it repels dust and dirt. It comes in a wide range of colors, and even though it does offgas due to the oxidation of lineolic acid, it is less harmful than vinyl, and is considered to be more environmentally friendly.

From the outer bark of the cork oak tree (Quercus suber). The bark naturally sheds and regrows about once a decade, so harvesting does not harm the tree. Cork resists rot and mold and makes a great sound-absorber and insulator. It also adds an extra cushioning and “bounce” to the step, great for the long-standing cook and indoor ball-tossing!

Other good flooring materials to consider are concrete, brick, tile (ceramic, porcelain and glass), terrazzo and stone.

Avoid Vinyl!
Even though its low cost and wide variety of colors and patterns make it a popular flooring choice, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) continues to be the subject of considerable controversy. Its production releases an extraordinarily toxic chemical–dioxin–and many, including the Healthy Building Network, consider PVC to be one of the “most environmentally hazardous consumer materials produced.”

Does Green Building Cost More?
It doesn’t have to. Many green building features and products cost the same as, or even less than, their conventional counterparts. Other green features may cost more upfront but result in savings year after year. Energy-efficiency upgrades, for example, usually pay for themselves by lowering your monthly energy bill.

Here are two places to start your investigation. If you’re thinking of remodeling or other large-scale projects, visit For tips on home care, see

Next: Green Glossary

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7:45PM PDT on Aug 9, 2011


3:09PM PST on Dec 14, 2010

I have always had pets and have always tried to keep the house clean for them, as well as myself. I have a rule in my home - NO SHOES ON IN THE HOUSE. ESPECIALLY, in the winter!

We never know what we're bringing in on our shoes. And in the winter with all the snow melt, rock salt and the sand everyone puts on their sidewalks. We have no idea whats in our food never mind whats in that stuff. Did you ever look at your floors and see how white they are after you come in after walking through the snow melt?? So think what that does to your feet if you walk barefoot like we do??? IT'S SCAREY!!!!!

4:53PM PDT on Jun 23, 2010

I feel it is important to make sure when you're cleaning your house you use safe cleaners. Your dog does lick the floor, drink out of the toilet - you get the picture.

I use Parsley Plus Multi-Surface Cleaner for cleaning counters, walls and my bathroom.

I use Toilet Kleener.

All the cleaning products I use are all natural and safe for the environment.

10:37PM PST on Jan 2, 2010

very good article thankyou

7:23PM PDT on Sep 6, 2009

Gewoon een Ibroptruven nemen half pilletje en alles is oke

4:58PM PDT on Aug 14, 2009

If you're going this far to protect your dog, then you have to go all the way. Inspect and research all questionable ingredients in your dog's food, the bizarre chemicals in whatever flea/tick formula you're using, and whatever bizarre drugs/vaccines pushed by the vet. Go ALL the way and give your dog healthy live foods, nutritional supplements, and homeopathic remedies to prevent sickness to REALLY help protect him. Greening your home is only half the battle.

9:11AM PDT on Aug 14, 2009

I have the same lie-on-the-floor philosophy to keep my house clean for my two-year-old.

8:44AM PDT on Aug 14, 2009

Be careful when choosing something based solely on one aspect, such as a material that is rapidly renewable. For example most bamboo used for cabinets and flooring comes from China and with that comes a huge CO2 foot print. So it may be better for the environment to use some local soft or hardwood and is manufactured in your area. These days it is easy to get swept up in new green materials, but if they are a world away are they really that green in the end?

8:40AM PDT on Aug 14, 2009

Remember: you don't have to build new to build green. The greenest house is often one already built. By installing storms--which is now also eligible for tax credits--instead of new vinyl-based windows (which only have a life expectancy of around 10 years), installing a dual-flush retrofit (or just using the ancient "brick in the tank" or "let it mellow" tricks), and others, you can save a HUGE amount of embedded/embodied energy already in the building. It takes energy to saw wood/bamboo, make bricks, glass for windows, etc., whether old or new. And people don't always think of the money and energy involved in demolition--buildings don't disappear by themselves.

8:23AM PDT on Aug 14, 2009

My son-in-law is a house painter who uses only low VOC paints. This has resulted in a great business because he is also one of the few sober painters around. After a little research I found the theory that so many painters drink because that keeps them from having to come down off the high they get from the paint fumes. Makes sense to me.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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