Author – Ron Wolf
You must be aware of the fact that nearly everything we use today, right from the food we consume, the clothes we wear, to the rugs we tread upon leaves a carbon footprint. This is particularly true for furnishings such as carpets and rugs when you consider the production process involved, trees chopped down, energy wasted, and the overall environmental damage.
However, this process is not irreversible, since you as the consumer can dictate how the carpet industry, in our case, functions. By making a conscious choice to buy eco-friendly rugs for your home, you can help protect the planet. Here are some key traits an ideal eco-friendly rug should possess:
Avoid additional padding
In terms of the structure of the fabric, go for carpets with lightweight backing. This feature is essential because such rugs don’t require additional padding that contains plastic. The latter is a material you definitely do not wish to see inside your carpeting. If you decide to go with a carpet with additional padding, then choose recyclable materials that are a sustainable alternative to plastic or rubber. These materials are toxic and since your children spend a lot of time on the floor, you don’t want them to come in contact with hazardous padding. A nice alternative to rubber is felt that is a 100% eco-friendly padding option.
Install the carpet properly
Most commercial buildings feature wall-to-wall carpeting, which is a good interior design solution. However, such carpeting can be quite eco-friendly if you take care of the installation procedure. In order to place wall-to-wall carpets, most manufacturers need to use chemical-based glues that are toxic. However, if you search the market more thoroughly, you’ll find other ways in which to fit a carpet. One of the most popular sustainable options includes taping down the carpet or using a water-based, low-VOC glue. This type of floor glue does not contain any harmful chemicals so there is no health risk for humans or the environment. Remember to always opt for non-solvent and low-emitting adhesives.
Take care of the carpet finish
In order to avoid any potential health issues, best stay clear of toxic materials altogether in your carpeting. A carpet finish is important in the sense that its traits determine the longevity and the quality of the carpet itself. Ideally, the finish should be non-toxic, made from natural fibers, and long-lasting. Apart from these major parameters, a good-quality carpet finish should also combat air pollution by stopping the carpet backing from chipping away. Furthermore, it should be odorless, resistant to water-borne stains, and flexible enough so it won’t rip away when it gets under a door.
Key choice of natural fibers
When it comes to carpeting, the inclusion of natural fibers in the structure of the rug is essential. Today, there are many carpet and rug manufacturers who offer eco-friendly products so you won’t have a hard time selecting the right carpet for your home.
As a rule, a carpet with natural fibers such as wool, jute or cotton uses non-toxic components and more importantly, it hasn’t been chemically treated. Of course, don’t forget to use water-based adhesives when installing the carpet and be sure to air it well before placing it inside the house. In fact, the latter procedure will prevent mold and mildew growing inside the carpet if it gets exposed to moisture.
Importance of clean floors
The final word of advice is to thoroughly clean the place where the old carpet sat. Namely, there might be glue residue that will prevent you from installing the new carpet. Non-toxic glues that use water are more eco-friendly but they are not as potent as the one made from hazardous chemicals. That is why it is essential that the floors are immaculately clean so the adhesive would stick better and last longer.
Pile depth is not essential
Because eco-friendly carpets come in a wide variety of patterns and natural fibers, their depth can vary significantly. Yes, we all strive for that fuzzy feeling underneath our feet but pile depth is not what determines an eco-friendly rug. In fact, many eco-friendly carpets have a smooth, flat surface to step over. Pile depths vary a lot so you should choose them based on personal preference, the climate you live in, and whether the carpet will be placed indoors or outdoors.
For warmer climates like the Indian one, a minimal pile rug that doesn’t “sink” as much as the deep plush ones is a perfectly acceptable solution. There are websites such as ClickRugs that exclusively offer rugs originating from specific countries such as India or Egypt. Finally, don’t choose a rug based on its borders, as eco-friendly rugs can feature a border fringe. This is pretty normal and it is not connected to the quality of fibers the carpet is woven from.
Disposing of old carpets
Getting a new carpet and an eco-friendly one at that is a thrilling experience. However, before the new carpet can be installed, the old carpeting needs to be completely removed. The way you dispose of the old carpet is closely tied to the effort to preserve the environment so, at no circumstances don’t dump it at a landfill! Sustainability and responsible shopping are not one-off activities but rather a process. The old carpet and its disposal are just as important as selecting a new carpet with natural fibers. That’s why you should take the old carpet to a recycling center or even a flooring company that will recycle then and who knows, there might be a discount for you when buying a new carpet.
These are some of the key traits to look for in eco-friendly rugs. Once you select a pattern you like, you will enjoy the rug for decades to come.