Flooring products have benefited from green technologies that serve the consumer as well as the planet.
The interest in environmentally friendly floors is growing as people learn about deforestation, air quality, growing landfills, and other issues. Whether you’re a core green consumer, interested in health issues, or just looking for great products at a good price, homeowners can discover many eco-friendly flooring possibilities.
Issues of Concern
Many factors figure into the idea of green flooring. Those looking at hardwood or engineered wood floors have at least two concerns. “First, there is an increasing awareness today of the destruction of the world’s forests,” says Lewis Buchner, CEO of EcoTimber in San Rafael, CA. “Forests hold the vast majority of Earth’s plant and animal life. The destruction of forests is the second-largest cause of carbon emissions worldwide—more than all cars, trucks, boats and planes combined. People want to do the right thing and don’t want their flooring decision to add to this destruction.
“There’s also the issue of indoor air quality. Remember the fiasco surrounding formaldehyde emissions in the FEMA trailers housing victims of Hurricane Katrina? Most of those emissions came from the adhesives used to bind wood products together. These adhesives are also found in many engineered wood flooring products,” says Buchner. EcoTimber offers domestic and exotic hardwood and bamboo flooring, including prefinished engineered and floating floors with no volatile organic compounds and formaldehyde-free adhesives.
The growing amount of waste going to landfills is another concern. Shaw Industries is one such eco-friendly company. Keeping carpet out of landfills is a key part of its Green Edge program. Public Relations and Media Relations Specialist Mollie J. Allen says the company’s Evergreen facility in Augusta, GA, recycles Type 6 nylon (N6) carpets and rugs, the ones typically found in American households. The facility breaks down carpets to the raw N6 nylon and remanufactures it into new fiber that can be used over and over without loss of beauty or durability. Since it opened in February 2007, the Evergreen facility has recycled more than 87 million pounds of post-consumer N6 carpet. Visit Shaw Environmental or call 800-434-9887 to locate a designated collection site.
Shaw also has introduced Epic® hardwood which uses up to 67 percent recycled content. Epic’s dense inner layer, EnviroCore®, is composed of wood fiber created in the manufacture of other products, especially sawmill by-products that would otherwise be burned or put into landfills.
Mohawk Industries has a different kind of recycling in its business operations. Mohawk’s everSTRAND® carpet fiber is made using PET (polyethylene terephthalate) extruded from recycled plastic bottles. The company uses about 25 percent of the country’s recycled PET plastic drinking bottles—more than 17 billion since 1999. PET bottles are sorted, ground up, cleaned, melted, extruded into fiber, and spun into carpet yarn. Even the bottle cap and label are used, making the cores around which the carpet is wrapped.