I don't have any flooring projects in mind in the near future, but I find myself thinking about flooring anyway. (Call it a job hazard of working in real estate and visiting so many homes.) I thought I'd take a look at what's available for eco-friendly flooring these days.
When it comes to flooring, eco-friendly can mean that it is made with recycled materials, natural or sustainable materials, or doesn't use toxic chemicals. Toxic chemicals? No thank you. Why on earth wouldn't you look into alternatives to toxic chemicals?
In our search for GREEN flooring choices we can find recycled/reclaimed wood, recycled glass tiles, bamboo (which is actually a grass), linoleum (which is biodegradable and doesn't release any toxins), natural fibers like jute & sisal or sea grass, cork (which is the bark of a tree and continues to grow.) You can also find recycled rubber carpet padding or the interlocking rubber tiles (such as you find in gyms or children's playrooms.)
It's also important to consider any adhesives that might be used in the installation process, and to make sure these or any padding (in the case of carpet) DO NOT contain toxins or volatile organic chemicals (known as VOCs.) These can seriously impair the quality of the air in your home. I wish I'd given it some thought back in the day almost 10 years ago when we replaced the horrific orange shag rug in our living room. At this point I'm going to hope that whatever toxins were there have long since dissipated.
One company in particular www.shawfloors.com caught my eye with an ad last year in an environmental magazine. They were also involved in the HGTV GREEN Home project in 2008 and the flooring they provided was really beautiful. I'm sure there are other companies doing this as well, but this one stuck in my mind as having lots of eco-friendly choices, and to be committed to sustainability. If anyone else has any companies to recommend, I'm all ears. When the time comes (and it will - that little spot of Silly Putty NEVER came out of the carpet no matter what I tried) I will look to an environmentally-friendly floor covering. I hope you'll consider it as well.