While for a truly green choice, the green living experts advise against wall-to-wall carpeting and recommend area rugs instead, there are increasingly eco-friendly choices becoming available underfoot.

“Consider alternatives to wall-to-wall carpeting. Use washable area rugs when possible … Carpet tiles are a great way to minimize waste because you just replace tiles as needed and the rest remain intact,” writes Lori Bongiorno, author of GreenGreenerGreenest: A Practical Guide to Making Eco-Smart Choices a Part of Your Life.

A natural progression

“Buy carpets and rugs made from recycled or natural materials such as wool (ask your retailer to make sure any wool products haven’t been treated with toxic moth repellents), alpaca, or hemp,” notes Bongiorno.

Gillian Deacon, author of Green for Life: 200 Simple Eco-ideas for Every Day, also has tips about choosing wool carpeting in her green guide. “If you have to get carpet, choose 100-per-cent wool with jute backing, or any backing that is sewn on rather than glued,” says Deacon. “Use carpet tacks rather than adhesives to secure your carpeting.

“The carpets we have in certain parts of our house are pure wool, and while they were more expensive than synthetic, they have never given me a headache the way some off-gassing carpets do.”

Easier being green

The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) is making buying greener carpeting easier with its Green Label and Green Label Plus programs. These programs rate carpets with very low volatile organic compound (or low-VOC) emissions. They test for and certify low emissions from carpet, carpet cushion and adhesive.

“Today, indoor air quality is an important environmental consideration, especially since we spend approximately 90 per cent of our time indoors,” says CRI president Werner Braun.

“Architects, builders and specifiers can have full confidence that Green Label and Green Label Plus carpets are desirable, attractive, green building products. They can rest assured they are purchasing the very lowest emitting products on the market.”

A clean break

In Alberta, the Clean Calgary Association has published a Green Building and Renovation Guide — Residential Products and Resources. It is available online for downloading off the association’s website.

The guide was “compiled to assist Calgary’s residents to find building materials that are free of toxins; contain recycled contents; have a lower environmental impact on conventional building products; and that are generally less harmful to both the environment and human health.”

Clean Calgary Association lists several types of carpets in its guide: recycled content carpet, recycled pop bottle carpet and wool carpet.

Hey jute

The company EcoChoices features undyed, organic wool area rugs and carpeting. Their pure all-natural chemical free untreated wool carpet has natural adhesive from the rubber tree, jute secondary backing and hemp/cotton backing.

Wool yarns are locked into place with a natural adhesive that is derived from the rubber tree. This further helps to lock the stitches in place and prevents slippage of the yarn. This adhesive is completely biodegradable and non-toxic. Jute, a hardy Earth-friendly fibre producing plant, is used for the secondary backing.

For more information, check out the following websites:

– Edited for length by Metro

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