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Eco-Friendly Carpet

 

Did you know?
  • Over 5 billion pounds of carpet enter the solid waste stream in the U.S. every year.
  • Used carpet accounts for more than 1% by weight (2% by volume) of all municipal solid waste in the U.S.
  • About 4.6% of the carpet discarded each year is recycled.
  • New carpet is now being produced from materials salvaged from recycled carpet.
Want to know more?
Visit our FAQ's & Glossary.

Our goal is to help you make environmentally responsible choices when shopping for carpet. Why is this important? Throughout carpet's life cycle, it can have several effects on both the environment and your family. When carpet lacks in eco–friendliness, these effects can be negative. Buying green or eco–friendly carpet is one small step that you can take towards preserving our planet, protecting your family, and planning for the generations ahead.

Throughout this section, you will learn about green carpet fibers, carpet recycling, green installation, and more. FindAnyFloor has provided you with the information and tools including a Green Carpet Checklist to help you select the right green carpet for your home or business.

Note: The words "carpet" and "rug" are often used interchangeably. For the purpose of this section, the word "carpet" will be used to describe fastened wall to wall floor coverings and the word "rug" will be used to describe non–fastened floor covering that do not extend from wall to wall (also known as area rugs, mats, and runners).

 

Featured Carpet Products

Some Background Information on Carpet

Image of a carpeted floor

Carpet flooring accounts for approximately 70% of all flooring used in the United States today. Most carpet is made from petroleum based fibers such as nylon, polypropylene, or polyester. The fibers are tufted or woven into a backing which is commonly made with polyurethane, synthetic SB latex, or polyvinyl chloride (PVC)–all of which are synthetic, petroleum based materials and whose manufacture can contribute to green house gas emissions. In addition, synthetic SB latex (used in approximately 90% of carpet) contains styrene (a suspected carcinogen). PVC is also on the hot seat with controversy that has resulted in the ban of PVC from several children's toys in Europe. These synthetic carpets often emit high levels of VOCs and have chemicals applied for stain proofing, fungicide, antistatic, and fire retardant treatments. In addition, they are often disposed of in a landfill at the end of their lives where they will not decompose.

That all sounds pretty bad, but don't fret. Throughout this section we will give you the information you need to "green" your carpet purchase.

VOCs and CRI's Green Label and Green Label Plus

The Carpet and Rug Institute certified label,
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Logos

Carpet, padding, and adhesives can emit toxins known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), especially during and immediately after installation. VOCs have been known to cause headaches, skin problems, coughing, pneumonia, fatigue, and more. In order to identify carpet and supporting materials that qualify as low VOC emitting, the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) corroborated with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to create the Green Label and Green Label Plus. This allows for easy identification of carpet products that are safe for your home or business Visit FindAnyFloor's section on the Carpet and Rug Institute to learn more about the Green Label program.

Note: All carpet is required to list its VOC content on the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).

It's more than a healthy indoor air quality that lends towards a green carpet's status. Let's look at some other key factors:

Materials Used to Make Carpet

Image of carpeting and carpet yarn

Most carpet is made with unsustainable or non–renewable resources (such as petroleum). Some carpet fibers can also be a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and other allergens. Green fibers include recycled content nylon, recycled P.E.T. polyester, and fibers made from renewable resources such as sugar from corn. Like carpet fibers, carpet backing can be made of recycled content and/or sustainable resources and emit low levels of VOCs. In addition, choosing the right carpet padding can prolong the lifetime of your carpet by reducing wear of the carpet against the subfloor. Jute, wool, rubber, and recycled carpet materials are common choice for green carpet padding.

Fiber density, pile height, face weight, and twist of the carpet fibers are also important when considering green carpet as these factors can have a direct effect on the carpet's lifetime. To learn more about green carpet fibers and fiber manufacturers, visit FindAnyFloor's section on Green Carpet Fibers.

Note: For easy comparison, carpet manufacturers are required by law to list their fiber content on their label.

Color and Size of Carpet

Rolled and Stacked Carpeting

If you have your heart set on white carpet, go for it, but remember that light colored carpets are more likely to show stains than darker colors. In addition, patterned carpet or multi–colored carpet is more effective in hiding soil than solids colors. If you have to replace carpet more often because stains are more obvious, it makes it a less of a green choice.

Another green option is to choose carpet tiles instead of rolled carpet. This will allow for easy spot replacement of damaged or stained tiles instead of having to replace the entire carpet or call a professional for a costly repair.

Recommendation: Many carpet manufacturers allow customers to view samples online to reduce fuel usage for sample delivery. While FindAnyFloor recommends viewing samples in person, this can help to reduce our dependence on petroleum based products.

Recyclability

Recycling Symbol

Not only should you choose carpet that contains recycled content, but you should also be sure that it will be easily recyclable at the end of its life. Many carpet manufacturers have carpet reclamation centers and will recycle your old carpet for you. For more information on this, visit FindAnyFloor's section on Carpet and Recycling.

Recommendation: When selecting green carpet, it is essential that you choose the right carpet for your situation to increase your carpet's lifetime and decrease the replacement rate. For example, tufted carpet lasts 5–7 years an average while woven carpet can last 20 plus years.

Method of installation

Image of carpet installation

Carpet off–gassing is the worst during installation and immediately after. When using a professional installation (which is recommended) ask for an installer that adheres to CRI's installation standards. You may consider leaving the premises during this time to protect yourself. Air out the room by opening windows and using fans can also help. In addition, ask your installer or manufacturer to air out the carpet in a well–ventilated area before installation to release VOCs before bringing it into your home or business. When installing glue–down carpet, adhesives can emit VOCs and create an unhealthy indoor environment. Luckily, CRI's Green Label extends to carpet adhesives as well. Also, look for adhesives that meet or exceed E–1 emission standards (European standards for VOC content). Better yet, you can often use glue free carpet installation methods. For more on carpet installation, visit FindAnyFloor's Advanced Carpet Installation Guide.

Green Carpet Cleaning

Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration
Certification (IICRC)

When it comes to cleaning your carpet, choose products that are non–toxic, made of renewable resources, and biodegradable. Some manufacturers require periodic steam cleanings by a professional with an Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC) to maintain carpet's warranty. For more green cleaning information check out FindAnyFloor's section on Green Flooring Care and Maintenance.

Green Carpet Information | Help
  • Green Carpet FAQ – Get the answers to the most frequently asked green carpet questions.
  • Carpet's Lifecycle – Learn about carpet's lifecycle and its effects on your family and the earth.
  • Green Carpet Checklist – Consult our Green Carpet Checklist for quick tips on buying green carpet.
  • Flooring Estimator Tools – Use our estimator tool to determine how much carpet flooring you'll need for your project.
  • Installation Guide – DIY types will find a helping hand in our carpet installation guide.
  • Glossary – Find green carpet terms defined in this section.

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