Eco Tip: Finding Solutions to Toxic Carpeting

According to the Carpet and Rug Institute, more than two-thirds of American floors have wall-to-wall carpeting, and we can understand why. It’s a nice alternative to your chilly floors in the morning, it adds color and texture to your home and plus, there’s a wide variety of styles and designs that fit into any budget. But next time you go shopping for a soft-floor solution, keep in mind that there are a few facts about carpeting that aren’t so warm and fuzzy. First, almost all carpet is made from petroleum byproducts and synthetics such as polypropylene, nylon and acrylic. In addition, it’s usually treated with stain or soil repellents. And don’t even get us started on the backing (ugh!), which could be made from vinyl or synthetic latex. Padding can also contain PVC, urethane, and other suspect materials. Add to that the antistatic sprays, artificial dyes, antimicrobial treatments, and finishes and it’s enough to leave you shivering. But before you bag the idea, try checking out your options…First, look for carpets with the Green Label Plus Certification. In 2004 this initiative by the Carpet and Rug Institute certifies that carpets have passed independent laboratory tests for emissions from thirteen notorious chemicals. Although the initiative is voluntary, some states, including California, require that new carpet in public places such as schools meet the standards.

There are options to conventional carpeting, wool being the most popular because of its ability to repel liquids on contact, its durability, and its warmth. However, just because a product is labeled 100 percent wool doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s 100 percent toxin free. Most carpet is chemically treated, so if you care, and we know you do, be sure to inquire — if the seller doesn’t know whether a rug is all natural, chances are it isn’t.

But wool isn’t ideal for kitchens, bathrooms or entryways because once moisture soaks in it takes a while to dry. Hemp rugs, on the other hand, are more resistant to mold and mildew and can be perfect for these locations. Sisal is another alternative, and one that’s widely available. Or look for rugs made from corn leaves and stalks, which are becoming more popular materials. Not only are they washable, they can also be thrown in the compost pile at the end of their useful life. Other natural options include plant fibers such as sea grass, jute, and coir (coconut-husk fiber).

Lastly, once you’ve selected and purchased your carpet, make sure you take care of it to preserve it. Use natural and biodegradable non-toxic products to remove stains and keep it smelling fresh. After all, you’ve done the research for a green carpet, why go pollute it? Via:: Natural Home Magazine [by Kara DiCamillo]

Check out these companies that offer pure carpeting solutions: Earth Weave, Interface Flor, Merida Meridian, Mohawk, Nature’s Carpet and Shaw.

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