When it comes to home improvement, the home owner is faced with a number of decisions: which countertop material is best for my kitchen? Should I refinish the basement? Does my master bathroom need a touch-up? There are a number of ways that remodeling the home can affect the environment, and keeping the earth in mind while you are sprucing up your home is important, particularly when it comes to carpeting.
Choosing the right type of carpeting can encompass more than simply choosing among different patterns and colors at the local carpeting retailer. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the health and environmental issues associated with carpeting can include indoor air quality, chemical emissions that result from manufacturing and disposal operations, and solid waste impacts. Each of these things should be considered when shopping for the right type of carpet.
The EPA has found that a number of Volatile Organic Compounds can be emitted from carpets. However, the emissions fall to very low levels 48 to 72 hours after the installation if good ventilation is provided. According to the Carpet and Rug Institute, carpet has been wrongly linked to high levels of VOCs. “Scientific studies show that new carpet is one of the lowest emitters of VOCs into the indoor environment, and that these emissions dissipate very quickly,” CRI said on its Website.
Those who make an effort to live green will also find another issue with carpeting: it is very hard to recycle. The EPA found that more than four billion pounds of carpeting enter the solid waste stream each year in the U.S. This accounts for more than one percent by weight and approximately two percent by volume of all municipal solid waste. According to the EPA, “the bulky nature of carpet creates collection and handling problems for solid waste operations, and the variety of materials present in carpet makes it difficult to recycle.”
The VOC emissions and waste issues involved with carpeting may raise a lot of concerns and apprehensions, but the consumer doesn’t necessarily have to write off carpeting entirely. There are green products that can be found at local and corporate retailers around the country that can put the environmentally conscious buyer at ease.
For starters, CRI’s Green Label and Green Label Plus testing and certification identifies not only carpets that emit low VOCs but also carpet backings, cushions and adhesives that emit low levels of VOCs as well. A listing of Green Label certified carpets for the home can be found at www.carpet-rug.org/residential-customers.
For more information on how to make your home more environmentally friendly, visit GreeningDetroit.com’s Green Homes section.
Jennifer Griffin, Contributing Writer and Public Relations, GreeningDetroit.com
Jennifer is pursuing a degree in Journalism and English from Wayne State University, and she is also a Contributing Writer for The South End.