Top 5 Tips to Green your Carpet and Rugs

Approximately five billion pounds of carpet are replaced each year in the U.S. Much of the old carpet, along with plastic soda bottles and textiles can be woven into new carpet fibers.

The following in an excerpt from the book “The Ultimate Guide to Greening your Home”.

By following the tips below, you can make more eco-friendly choices when buying and disposing of carpets and rugs.

✔ Choose natural fiber carpets and rugs - The vast majority of all carpet and rugs are made of petroleum-based synthetic fibers.  These fibers are not biodegradable and come from a nonrenewable source.  By choosing natural fiber carpets and rugs, you are not only reducing the amount of petrochemical based products you will have in your home, but you will also be able to avoid the trip to the landfill at your carpets end-of-life.  Natural fiber carpets can be shredded and used as mulch because it is biodegradable.

Below is a description of some of the most popular natural fiber choices:

  • Cotton - Look for organically grown cotton.  Even though cotton is a natural fiber, the processing involved in producing traditional cotton is detrimental to the environment.
  • Wool - Wool is both highly water and fire resistant. Wool fiber carpets are best used in dry, well-ventilated places and should not be allowed to remain damp if they do get wet.
  • Wool/Hemp blend – The natural resilience of wool offers durability that exceeds most synthetics. The hemp adds strength, pest resistance qualities and UV resistance.39
  • Grass-based - Grass-based carpeting options derive their strength from the weave and are naturally antistatic. They are affordable, versatile, easy to install and are resourced from a rapidly renewable resource.39
  • Jute – Jute is created from grass fibers.  Jute can withstand a lot of abrasion and it is highly resistant to mildew and mold. However, the fiber is not suited to high moisture and sunlight exposure.
  • Seagrass – Seagrass is durable and stain resistant, but cannot be dyed. When it is woven into a carpet, the result is a highly spill-resistant, durable, resilient floor covering that is comfortable under foot.39
  • Sisal – Sisal comes from the agave plant. Sisal carpets are naturally sound-absorbing, durable and flame resistant. Since sisal absorbs moisture readily, it is recommend that these materials be used only indoors, in dry areas.
  • Linen – Linen is spun from the fibers of the flax plant. Linen yarns are strong and durable, resistant to wear and abrasion, yet are lustrous, flexible, and pleasant to the touch.
  • Coir – Coir fiber comes from the fibrous husk that encases a coconut. Coir is tough and can withstand a great deal of abrasion. It is also highly rot resistant and is insect resistant. Coir has an ability to tolerate submersion in water for months without disintegrating, making it a good choice for outdoors and areas subject to water use.

✔ Buy certified carpets and rugs - Certified carpets are made from renewable resources or recycled materials and steps have been taken during their manufacture process to reduce pollutants and waste.

✔ Buy carpet from manufacturers with take-back programs - By participating in a take-back program, you will not only be reducing landfill waste, but you will also be supporting a sustainable business practice.

✔ Recycle your old carpet - By recycling your old synthetic carpeting and rugs (including its padding), you will reduce the amount of non-biodegradable landfill trash. In addition, these recycling programs are a good way to reuse petroleum (a nonrenewable resource), which is the main ingredient in synthetic carpets.

✔ Buy carpets and rugs made with recycled materials – By eliminating or reducing the amount of virgin materials used in production, and by making use of existing materials in its manufacture, recycled content carpet contributes to the efficient use of resources. Recycled carpet can be made from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or from recovered textile fibers.40 Recycled content carpet fiber is usually more resilient and colorfast than virgin fiber carpet.

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