This is Day 29 of the Green in 365 series!
One of the biggest contributors to indoor air pollution may be what’s on the floor in your home. Almost all conventional carpet is petroleum based, and the carpet padding and adhesives contain harmful chemicals, like benzene and toluene, which off gas into your home as VOCs (volatile organic compounds). In addition, carpet can harbor dust mites, dander and even mold, contributing to allergies and asthma in your family.
Now, like with furniture, you don’t need to run and rip out all your flooring and replace it with a greener option. If you have wall to wall carpet, be sure to vacuum at least once or twice a week, preferably using a vacuum with a HEPA filter, and also have it regularly steam cleaned.
When you are ready to replace or update the flooring in your home, see what you already have. If you are lucky enough to live in an older homes with beautiful wood floors underneath the carpet, all you may need to do is have the floors refinished. Try to make sure you use a non-toxic, low-, or no-VOC, sealant.
If you need to replace the flooring in your home, the best option is bare floors, which can be cleaned thoroughly. There are many eco-friendly options for hard flooring, such as hard wood that’s been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, reclaimed wood, bamboo, which is a fast-growing sustainable resource, or even cork, which is another sustainable material that is naturally fire-resistant as well as anti-microbial.
To cover your hard floor and provide insulation, padding and and a more cozy space, look for area rugs that are washable, or can be vacuumed on both sides, and aired out as needed. The best area rugs are those made from natural materials, like organic cotton, wool, or jute. You can also find carpets made from recycled materials and fewer chemicals, which will emit fewer VOCs into the air in your home.
Choosing eco-friendly and non-toxic flooring options is a great way to remove chemicals and green up the living space in your home!
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Thanks for the great post! Do you have any suggestions as to where to find some eco-friendly carpeting? We need a large area run for the living room floor for playing, but everything seems to have stain resistant chemicals in them. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks so much!
Jen M says
I’ve heard that while bamboo is fast growing and sustainable, it takes a lot of chemicals and glue that are not eco-friendly to turn it into floorboards. I’m sure they also off-gas nasty compounds into your home as well. I’m sure there are green alternatives that use more eco-friendly glue, etc. but be sure to do your research before buying bamboo floors. Don’t just assume that because it’s bamboo it’s eco-friendly.
[email protected] says
We put cork flooring throughout our living room/dining room/kitchen about a year and a half ago. We love it! Easy to clean and durable. Easy to install, too. It was click-flooring that didn’t need glue. Warmer and softer underfoot than wood. Really, no downsides to it at all.