All our actions have significant effects on the environment. Keeping a carpet is not exempted as maintaining one entails numerous environmental implications. Have you been green with your choices? Can you confidently claim that you have been making sustainable carpet choices?
Experts have been clear and vocal in recommending polished concrete and floorboards as sustainable choices. However, many households still opt for carpets as they provide solid insulating effects and softness. Carpets also effectively improve the overall ambiance of a room. For careful balancing, this article will help you to carefully navigate the tricky arena of carpets and carpet maintenance with great consideration to its environmental effects. After reading this article, you will be equipped with all the right green choices and intelligent decisions to consider when keeping one.
The Effect of Carpets in the Environment
Keeping a carpet offers numerous advantages: it provides warmth, insulation, noise reduction, and interior ambiance. Hence, numerous owners still keep one in their households. However, keeping a carpet imposes the following environmental effects:
- Land and water use – carpets that are agriculturally sourced have grave effects on the environment due to land and water use during production. This concern is attended to by Life Cycle Assessments (LCA). However, assessments can never fully measure and quantify all farm processes.
- Energy consumption – carpet maintenance consumes a massive amount of energy. Hence, it is important and imperative for owners to practice and apply eco friendly cleaning techniques and strategies in the maintenance and upkeep of their carpets.
- Recycling rate – carpets are highly recyclable but only 25% of purchased ones are considered for it. The rest stay stuck in landfills and wait for 50 years before total break down. The massive break down releases greenhouse gases. This is extremely harmful to the environment.
Essential Sustainable Decisions Can Be Made
Clear awareness of the environmental effects of carpets and carpet upkeep will lead you to make better and more greener decisions. To provide a holistic perspective, you need to understand the fundamental make-up of carpets.
There are three important carpet components: cushion, adhesive, and carpet.
When it comes to materials used in creating one, carpet manufacturers can use natural or synthetic ones. The clamor for green business practices is now giving rise to the production of carpets made of recycled plastics and fishing nets.
Synthetic fiber is popular in the production of carpets and they impose unique environmental effects. They are man-made and used widely for carpet production. Examples of synthetic fibers are as follows: polyester (PET), nylon (polyamide), and polypropylene (olefin). They are preferred in carpet production because they are not susceptible to moisture.
Natural fibers are good alternatives because they are naturally antimicrobial and require no chemical input. Samples of natural fibers for carpet production are as follows: seagrass, sisal, coir, wool, and jute. However, they are not perfect for households in humid climates as they are susceptible to moisture and mold build-up.
Synthetic fibers and natural fibers both consume massive amounts of energy, water, and land use during production. Natural fiber seems to be the better option in plain sight but synthetic fiber has advantages when it comes to upkeep and lifespan.
Carpet underlay and backing
Carpet backing controls a carpet’s lifespan. It is placed to add insulation, additional comfort, and noise reduction. Materials used for carpet backing are: rubber, foam, and felt. The production of each material consumes massive energy. Some even employ intense chemical use.
Carpet installation also requires chemically intense adhesives. These adhesives effectively limit the recyclability of a carpet.
Green Decisions and Factors To Act Upon
Knowing the fundamental make-up and materials involved in carpet production, you can now clearly make green and intelligent decisions if you’re looking for one or practicing daily upkeep. The following tips and hacks should be greatly considered:
- Research, research, research. When buying a carpet, always ask the following questions:
- Where was the carpet made? – the closer the location, the better.
- How was the carpet made? – production must use the least amount of energy and chemical possible.
- What transportation is required? – opt for energy-efficient and green alternatives.
- What materials were used? – choose green materials that last. Never automatically opt for natural fibers without considering durability and maintenance.
- How were materials sourced? – sourcing must be green and energy-efficient.
- Did it undergo VOC emissions testing? – you have to ensure that the carpet does not have volatile organic compounds.
- Does it have an independent certification? – this ensures that carpet production underwent and followed strict environmental protocols.
- What is the installation requirement? – opt for non-chemical and non-toxic options.
- What additives were used? – additives must be safe and non-toxic.
- What treatments were used? – energy consumption and chemical use must be regulated.
- What is the recommended maintenance? – your carpet of choice must have a green and eco friendly maintenance requirement.
- What is the warranty period? – important in cases where undisclosed materials and treatments are discovered.
- Does it have an end of life program? – will ensure that your carpet of choice will be duly recycled and not harm the environment.
- Choose a design that is not trendy and will not be easily outdated.
- Always choose a manual installation. Never use adhesives.
- Keep a carpet record: enlist its manufacturer, carpet name, carpet code, registration number, date of purchase, and installation date. These data will be important for future warranty or insurance needs.
- Have windows with UV protection to protect it from advanced deterioration caused by sunlight.
- Have your windows and doors opened during installation for airing and prevention of VOC.
- To prevent carpet compression, use furniture cups.