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Healthy Floors

Greening from the ground up

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Healthy Floors

Many allergists and green home renovators recommend steering clear of conventional wall-to-wall carpeting. Not only is your carpet a haven for mold, dust, and dust mites, but up to 120 chemical compounds are found in the dyes, backing, and fibre of synthetic carpeting. Headaches, respiratory problems, and depression have all been linked to these toxins.

You’ve decided to put down new flooring and you can’t wait to get started. But beyond comparing colour swatches and balancing the budget, have you considered what your new floor coverings are made of?

Many allergists and green home renovators recommend steering clear of conventional wall-to-wall carpeting. Not only is your carpet a haven for mold, dust, and dust mites, but up to 120 chemical compounds are found in the dyes, backing, and fibre of synthetic carpeting. Headaches, respiratory problems, and depression have all been linked to these toxins.

So how do you get the cozy feeling of carpet without compromising your health? You can start by using natural-fibre area rugs around your home. Rugs can be aired, beaten, or even washed to get rid of dust and molds. You can hang them to dry and move them to another room when you want a new look. Choose natural materials such as wool, jute, hemp, and rubber, and avoid products treated with moth- and stain-repellents.

If you do opt for carpeting, consider manufacturers like Earth Weave Carpet Mills (earthweave.com) and Nature’s Carpet (colcam.com). These companies pair function with environmental concerns, making non-toxic carpeting from biodegradable and renewable materials.

Branching off from Wood

If the classic beauty and functionality of traditional hardwood are what you’re looking for, think about tree-free alternatives. Cork and bamboo are sustainably harvested from their natural environment and are used increasingly in flooring products.

Cork’s unique properties offer a floor that is waterproof, odourless, and not too hard on the feet. Cork’s durability, comfort, and antifungal properties satisfy both the functional and environmental needs of commercial applications such as exercise rooms and yoga studios. In your home, it’s an excellent choice for kitchens and bathrooms. Eco-conscious companies like The Cork House (corkhouse.com) and Silk Road Flooring (silkroadflooring.com) offer flooring with stunning finishes and low VOC (volatile organic compound) content.

If your heart is still set on wood, look for reclaimed wood flooring or products stamped by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). FSC-certified wood is sourced from sustainably managed forests.

Veering from Vinyl

Vinyl (polyvinyl chloride or PVC) flooring continues to be popular because it’s inexpensive, easy to clean, and readily available. However, vinyl has hidden health costs because of its negative effect on the air in your home.

PVC is a known carcinogen and is described by Greenpeace (greenpeace.org) as “the single-most environmentally damaging plastic.” PVC has been banned in many parts of Europe owing to the toxins created and released over its lifespan. It’s definitely not a suitable choice for your eco-home.

Linoleum is one of the best alternatives to vinyl. This attractive, long-wearing floor covering is made entirely of natural ingredients such as linseed and flax. Unlike vinyl flooring, linoleum is naturally anti-static. Dirt doesn’t cling to its surface, making cleaning simpler and faster. Check out Marmoleum (themarmoleumstore.com) and Torlys (torlys.com) for a colourful showcase of linoleum options.

When choosing materials for your next flooring project, think long term. Natural flooring materials are easier than ever to source and will support a healthy living environment for years to come.

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