Hey Mr. Green,
Where can I find information about purchasing replacement carpeting that is environmentally responsible and nontoxic?
--Donna in Ocala, Florida
Finding the most environmentally magic carpet can take a bit of digging but it's worth it. I recommend taking the following steps:
1) Make sure your prospective carpets, carpet pads, and adhesives carry the Green Label Plus logo of the Carpet and Rug Institute. This certification helps ensure that carpets and installation materials meet low-emissions standards. If you've ever been exposed to noxious, dizzying fumes from carpet installations, you'll know why this is important.
2) Look for carpets and pads that are blessed with the highest post-consumer recycled content and recovered materials content (recovered materials are those recycled with the manufacturing process). The Carpet and Rug Institute provides links to help you assess individual manufacturers here.
3) If you're thinking about replacing an old carpet, consider the possibility of giving it a new lease on life by refurbishing it or re-dying it or both. If it's too far gone for such remedies, make sure it's recycled after you rip it out. Only 10 percent of old carpets get recycled. A depressing 2.5 million tons of it gets squished down into U.S. landfills every year, instead of being resurrected as composite lumber, tile backer board, roofing shingles, railroad ties, automotive parts, stepping stones, and so on. You can find carpet-recycling information at the Carpet America Recovery Effort’s Web site, and at Earth911. For more intriguing information about carpets and their destiny, click here.4) Institute a shoes-off-in-the-house rule. This will extend a carpet’s life and reduce its need for cleaning.