Greener Carpet

Greener Carpet

Jonathan B.
Dec 10, 2007

Last week, we blogged about how to pull up carpet. In response, Anne (in Reno) asked this question:

How about if you do want carpet? Can you recommend some green carpet choices? I have no interest in putting down beautiful hardwood and then having to spend a fortune covering it with area rugs because I hate living with wood floors. Can you share some healthier carpet options? Not everybody hates it so passionately and some greener options would be much appreciated.

Anne, you're right: carpet's not all bad. It's quiet and comfortable, and it can be green, too.

Let's start with wool carpet, which is made by lots of companies. For a quality product at a range of prices, we like Godfrey Hirst, which produces carpets in Australia of Australian and New Zealand wool. Most Godfrey Hirst products are all made of carded yarn, which means short, coarse fibers have been combed out when the wool is spun into yarn, so the carpet is smoother and softer. If you have money to spend, or want your carpet to last a long, long time, Woolshire is a high-end carpet manufacturer that's arguably more local: most of their products are made in Georgia, though still of yarn imported from New Zealand.

Some folks criticize wool carpet for synthetic content. Carpet is a bit like a sandwich: there's the face fiber, which is what you see on the front, and the backing, which is, obviously, what's on the back. Between those two is a layer of secondary backing and adhesive. Not all wool carpet is all natural: sometimes the backing is synthetic (if it's white, that's a sign), and the adhesive between the two layers is usually synthetic. If that's a concern, check out carpets from Earth Weave or Nature's Carpet, which use a latex-based adhesive and all-natural backing materials.

Not into wool? Several companies, including Mohawk, make carpet from recycled PET plastic--the stuff of 2-liter soda bottles. Prices are competitive with quality synthetic carpets, and PET fibers are solid, so they don't trap stains like other carpets. A caveat: fibers made from PET plastic tend to get shiny from wear, so choose a carpet with a pattern or texture (like shag) that offer built-in camouflage.

A final option is carpet tile; while most folks know FLOR, we're partial to Shaw, who were first to market with a 100% PVC free backing called Ecoworx.

image by Marrit via

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