Many new flooring products come with a large recycling content and meet environmental criteria.
What makes Flooring Eco-Friendly
> Wood flooring is the most abundant renewable flooring material on Earth;
> Sustainable forest management makes wood flooring a product without serious impacts on the environment…
> Bamboo flooring comes from a grass that grows incredibly fast, instead of requiring dozens of years to grow;
> Laminate flooring and engineered flooring incorporate large amounts of fiber woods and agricultural wastes.
> Linoleum (do not confuse with vinyl) is a natural flooring material, made from natural products pressed onto a jute backing
> Cork flooring comes from the bark of the cork tree. The removing of the cork doesn't harm the tree, which make cork a truly renewable resource;
> Tile flooring comes from natural products like clay - a natural and abundant raw-material…
Green flooring products do not have to be more expensive than other flooring. It depends a bit on your choices, but some of the cheapest flooring options – laminate, linoleum, cork… - are among the most environmentally-friendly ones.
It’s true that many discount flooring products are not eco-friendly and certified, but most environmentally-friendly choices will not cost you more or significantly more. The hard part is choosing.
What to do then?
To ease your choice, you need first of all to decide on the type of flooring you want (wood, laminate, engineered wood, bamboo, stone, tile…) and the range of prices, before considering the environmental criteria.
The following list can help you on it…
If you want to buy environmentally-friendly wood flooring consider the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or the SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) ratings. That’s important. It may not cost you much more.
The FSE is an organization that certifies more than 130 million acres of forests all over the world; forest companies have to meet a set of environmental and labor rules.
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) criteria is not as stringent, but they also require the reforestation of harvested land and wildlife sustainability.
You may also consider salvaged wood, if you like the rustic style. Just do not expect to find bargain prices or a wide range of choices. And do not forget the laminate, the engineered wood and the bamboo options, listed below.
Laminate and engineered wood flooring
What Makes Flooring Eco-Unfriendly
> Many of the Indian, Vietnamese and Chinese (Hunan) bamboo forests are disappearing due to uncontrolled and unsustainable harvesting.
> Most of the wood flooring sold by retail chains doesn't come from sustainable managed forests…
> There isn't much control over what manufacturers say about their green practices, and the amount of waste and recycled materials they use in the manufacturing process…
> It’s true that stone, clay and other raw-materials used by tile flooring are natural products, but that doesn't make them renewable; besides, the large amount of energy required by the industry should also be considered as a negative environmental impact…
> Some types of stone and wood used by the flooring industry are becoming very scarce due too over-consumption.
> Though some manufacturers and associations promote responsible sustainable forest management, there are many cases of unethical and environmentally-unfriendly practices…Prefer flooring products with as low VOC as possible, and with high levels of recycled content: wood fiber, agricultural wastes…
The NALFA certification seal for laminate floor ensures that 1) The laminate floor is made with natural resources, 2) Is recyclable, 3) Free of VOC and other damaging chemicals, 4) Without formaldehyde, 5) has the LEED minimum required recycled content and 6) Doesn't require natural glues and adhesives during installation and no special cleaners for maintenance. So, prefer products certified by NALFA or similar professional associations.
Associations like the HPVA (Hardwood, Plywood and Veneer Association) also certifies products meeting several international standards involving the CARB, HUD, and/or ANSI standards…
Carpet flooring can now be recyclable and use a large amount of recycled content, and much less water than ancient manufacturing. It may also have low-levels of VOC.
Look for carpets and rugs with green labels (the Green Label Plus labels, for instance). They ensure that the carpet meets specified environmental criteria. For information on carpet recovering (in America) see Carpet America Recovery Effort.
Tile flooring comes from clay and other natural raw-materials, but some of these are becoming scarce in many parts of the world. So, look for tile flooring with a high recycled content, and make sure that the manufacturer meets recycling principles. Also prefer local quarried and long lasting products, to reduce their environmental footprint.
Stone flooring has the advantage of being a natural product, which means that it will not release VOC and other harmful chemicals.
The problem with stone is that it is not renewable, and quarry work can cause a lot of disturbance to the natural environment...The only way to minimize it is to look for products with as much recycled content as possible.
Vinyl flooring is relatively inexpensive and can be very durable, but its manufacturing and disposal have a very negative impact on the environment. Vinyl can be a very poisonous plastic...
Linoleum and Cork flooring
Linoleum and cork flooring are green flooring choices, without significant adverse environmental impact. See, for more information on these products: Vinyl and Linoleum Flooring Cheap Options.