Eco-friendly carpet uses materials that are biodegradable and don’t require a lot of fertilizer and pesticides to produce. They come in virtually all varieties, from area rugs and wall-to-wall installations to customizable carpet tiles. Carpet made from natural, renewable fibers tend to be the most environmentally friendly and include sisal, seagrass, coir, organic cotton, jute, organic wool and bamboo.
Avoid unhealthy chemicals and compounds
Just because a particular carpet is made from “natural” materials does not guarantee that the carpet is healthy for you and the environment. Be sure you’re not buying a “seemingly eco-friendly” carpet that has actually been treated with insect and flame repellents. Wool that is produced conventionally can also have a heavy environmental impact because of the pesticides used to control parasites on sheep. Some of the worst off-gassing can be caused by the carpet backing – something you never even see.
So what do you look for? When buying eco-friendly carpet backing or pads, look for natural materials like non-synthetic latex, untreated wool or camel hair felt. Carpet backings that are sewn on or glued using natural, non-toxic adhesives are healthier choices than those using adhesives that off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Another eco-friendly option is recycled carpets. Instead of making carpet from petroleum and other fossil fuels, some carpet manufacturers utilize both pre- and post-consumer plastics like polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, or industrial scraps. These “PET carpets” are made from 100 percent recycled plastic beverage bottles and can be down-cycled into insulation or furniture stuffing when it wears out.
Choose responsible eco-friendly carpet companies
How can you tell whether a company is really producing eco-friendly carpet? Look for green carpet certifications like Cradle to Cradle, The Sustainable Carpet Standard (NSF 140), CRI Green Label Plus, BRE Environmental Assessment and Good Environmental Choice (Australia). Each of these certification programs uses different assessments to ensure that the carpet meets environmental criteria like use of healthy materials, energy efficiency, manufacturing emissions, water use and waste.
Many carpet companies not only offer a wide range of eco-friendly options, but also take responsibility to ensure that their manufacturing processes are not harming the planet. These companies use recycled materials and reclaim old carpet, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and coming up with inventive new ways to reuse waste yarn.
As with many things – knowledge is power. At Intelligent Interiors, we may not be an expert at everything as it relates to your work environment, but you’d be surprised how our suggestions and design recommendations can have a positive impact in your workplace.