Save the Gulf Coast with Your Old Carpet

Your stained shag carpet could stop the oil spill. At least one Florida county is using GeoHay, or bales of recycled carpet, to help protect the shoreline from some of the oil spilling into the Gulf from the broken BP oil well. GeoHay is a temporary erosion control device that lets water flow but absorbs suspended oil and other sediments. It is used as an alternative to hay bales and silt fences.

Synthetic carpet is non-biodegradable, which is usually a negative. It means it might sit in landfills for thousands of years. However, the non-sustainable, non-biodegradable nature of traditional carpet makes it perfect for a messy oil spill job. Straw and hay bales are less effective because they are biodegradable, and gradually erode as water breaks them down.

Officials in Walton County, in the eastern end of the Florida panhandle, are using GeoHay to protect dune lakes and white sand beaches.† GeoHay is one of many creative uses of old carpet. The Carpet America Recovery Effort lists local carpet recycling sites here. The group boasts it kept more than 300 million pounds of used carpet out of landfills last year, turning 80 percent into other consumer products.

In addition to forming GeoHay for erosion control, used carpet fibers can be turned into construction materials, coal substitutes, plastics and new carpet.

  • NyconG is a reinforcing fiber for concrete and other construction materials. It is made from 100 percent recycled carpet and carpet backing. The manufacturer promises the material lowers production costs and may be eligible for tax credits and LEED credit savings.
  • Kela Energy uses recycled coal waste and used carpet fibers to create an alternative energy source that burns cleaner, hotter and more efficiently than coal.
  • Los Angeles Fiber and several other companies make new carpet from your old carpet. Other companies are making a variety of plastics, including bottles and car parts, from used carpet fibers.

Finally, options for reusing before recycling your carpet include:

  • Cover compost heaps and worm compost bins to trap heat and moisture.
  • Cover a field of weeds with carpet. Within weeks, it will all be dead and you can replant with new sod or other plants.
  • Find a new home for the carpet on Craigslist or FreeCycle.
  • Check with your local animal shelter. It may want the used carpet patches for its cat cages.
  • Put it in a greenhouse to keep plants off the cold floor.

No matter what, donít throw away old carpet. Even if it doesnít stop the oil spill, it can certainly be put to good use.


Pat C.
Pat Coetzer7 years ago

Give your old carpets to the animal shelter for the poor abandoned, abused animals who don't have any comforts.

Maria W.
Past Member 7 years ago

Good idea.

mariya s.
Mari S7 years ago

great -- i will check out that list of recyclers -- it never made sense to me to throw carpets out for regular sanitation pickup -- so, i never threw them out -- they're part of my garden landscape and they look very natural and aesthetically pleasing to the eye and in addition do absolutely no harm. I will now collect them and off to the recyclers they go.

Roberta Z.
Roberta Z7 years ago

If you have scraps of carpeting, you can take them to a carpeting store and sometimes they can put a binding around the edges. I've known people who have used carpet remnants as floor mats in their cars (not safe to use on the drivers side). You can also use them to help you move furniture around by flipping the piece of carpet over and placing it under the legs to prevent scratching the floor.
I have some worn out carpet I'd love to get rid of if I had something to replace it with.
Also, if you're using carpeting to soak up oil, what do they do with it once they're done with it?

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Marco Russ7 years ago

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Diane Wayne
Past Member 7 years ago

Isn't amazing how much the "common people" are coming up with solutions? Why are governments so lax and inept at problem solving for the masses? What's wrong with this whole situation? Those in power not doing enough for the common good.

Carolyn Dakin
Carolyn Dakin7 years ago

Great article......who would have thought..... Im glad people have come up with such good recyling ideas.

ChanTlalok Rain C.

thanx now I know what to do with my carpet when I change it out.

Nichol Hebert
Nic H7 years ago

Love it! Linking to my fb acct! :)

Padme H.
Padme H.7 years ago

how do i get it to the gulf? we have plenty of old shag carpet that needs to be ripped out.