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Eco Friendly Flooring Options

By Kirsten E. Silven - 29 Dec 2010 8:34:44 GMT
Eco Friendly Flooring Options

Many people are just starting to understand the harmful effects that carpeted flooring can have on our health and the planet. Most carpets are full of the same types of volatile organic compounds that can also be found in traditional paint products. These compounds contain carcinogenic atoms that are extremely harmful when inhaled. Carpet releases these toxins slowly over the years, which is just one reason why it is healthier for you and the environment to consider eco-friendly flooring options instead.

When installing flooring in a home, there are several ways to keep it as free from poisonous chemicals as possible. The first is to consider using recycled hardwood that has been reclaimed from houses that have been demolished or renovated.  Old hardwood flooring will still have many years of use, and repurposing it also helps protect the atmosphere by reducing the need to manufacture synthetic flooring materials. In addition, the old hardwood is otherwise burned or thrown into a landfill, both of which have negative effects on the environment. Reusing old flooring also benefits the entire planet reducing deforestation.

Bamboo has become increasingly popular and is a great alternative to traditional oak or pine hardwood. Bamboo is durable and a good choice for eco-conscious homeowners because it naturally grows at a high rate of speed, unlike the majestic, old-growth forests where most other wood is harvested. Bamboo is also easy to farm and is a beautiful wood flooring option for any room in the house.

If you wish to invest in brand new eco-friendly flooring, there are some wonderful options available today as well. For example, there are eco-friendly carpets, which are manufactured without the use of chemicals. The fibers are often natural, using woven wool or sea grass, along with a wide variety of other sustainable and/or recycled materials.

In addition, eco-friendly carpet should have no toxic finish applied to protect against moths or staining. Avoid foam backs and choose fibers instead.  The foam is extremely harmful, especially when combined with the high VOC glues which are used to bond the carpet to the boards below.

Cork flooring is both practical and kind to the environment. Cork is made from the bark of oak trees, and the harvesting has no long lasting effects on the living tree. It is a sustainable material that is also a natural insulator. Therefore, cork can even help you reduce the amount you spend on energy bills each year, which in turn reduces your carbon footprint. There are many different types of cork available today, from tiles to long planks.  You can even dye the floor with a non-toxic stain if you so desire!

When removing the old flooring in a home, try to discover the best way to get rid of it without sending it to the local landfill. Carpeting can take thousands of years to decompose and will continue to release toxins into the environment for some time. Instead, try to find a charitable organization that helps low-income families furnish and decorate their homes. If the carpet is in reasonable condition, you may be able to recycle it by donating it to a family in need of better flooring.