The environmental challenges of our time are getting bigger, and even the smallest contribution of each individual matters. If you are renovating your home, that might be a great opportunity for you to contribute to a more sustainable future of our planet. There is no need to compromise on the look; just add a sustainability aspect to your project and make your home friendly, not just for you but also for the environment. A sustainable home brings energy savings, uses less natural resources, makes less harmful emissions, produces less waste and makes a healthy environment for the people living in it.
Renovating your home is an exciting project. Deciding the overall story, imagining the look, and choosing colors, patterns, forms and textures together with an interior designer gives you an opportunity to bring out your creativity and let your personality be reflected in your home. That defines how you feel about your new home. You might feel even better if you know you’ve made it more sustainable — better for the environment and for the people living in it.
The softness, safety and versatility of carpets make them a great choice for flooring
Deciding on flooring is only a part of renovation, but it’s important for the overall sustainability of the project. When you think about sustainable flooring, you probably think of wood or some other natural hardwood flooring options. What about carpets?
Carpets used to be very popular, but there is no reason for them to lose their appeal. One of the reasons why we love them is for their softness. Isn’t it nice to step on a warm, soft carpet when you wake up? It makes starting a day early in the morning much easier. Carpets are also better for the safety of the whole family, especially for seniors as well as toddlers learning their first steps. Hardwood flooring could be slippery, but carpets reduce slips and falls; and when falls do occur, there are less injuries.
Another aspect that makes carpets suitable for contemporary interior designs is their versatility. Wood flooring works great with some styles but not so well with others. On the other side, the versatility of colors, patterns, textures, and new innovative fibers in carpets gives you plenty of choice. No matter what the overall design is or what story you follow with interior design, you can always find a carpet to fit in perfectly.
Carpets have many characteristics which improve the interior’s sustainability
- Carpets bring energy savings. Carpets behave as thermal insulators, insulating against cold and heat. Carpeting retains the warmth in the rooms and saves on the heating. It is estimated that as much as 10% of the heat in a room is retained by the carpet. These are the savings that contribute to the environment and your wallet.
- Carpets improve air quality. Carpets are good for a healthy living environment. Contrary to common beliefs, carpets do not make the indoor air dustier. The opposite is true, carpets trap the dust particles from the air and carpet fibers hold them until vacuumed. This is particularly important because dust carries germs and allergens. Of course, regular vacuuming is extremely important to retain a healthy environment.
- Carpets are good sound insulators and reduce noise. Nowadays, we live in a noisy environment and constant loud sounds affect our health and behavior as well as the nature around us. Noise pollution is often neglected, but lowering noise pollution is important for the well-being of residents. Carpets help to reduce noise by absorbing sound vibrations.
As you can see, carpets can certainly be a part of a contemporary sustainable home. You can find many options on the market; some are more sustainable than others. It’s good to know which characteristics to look for when trying to make the most sustainable choice.
What to look for in carpets if you want to follow sustainability principles?
- Choose sustainable materials. Carpet fibers are made from different kinds of natural materials, such as wool or other natural fibers, or from synthetic fibers, such as nylon, polyester, acrylic and others. If you choose natural fibers, check if they were harvested in a sustainable way. Although synthetic fibers are originally made from fossil fuels, they too can be sustainable. There are many producers of synthetic carpets fibers which are made from waste materials and have a much lower environmental impact than ever before. By recycling, less or no oil extraction is needed, energy is saved, waste streams are diverted from landfills and overall CO2 emissions are lower. Other carpet parts such as carpet pads can also be made from recycled materials.
- Look for information about the environmental impact of carpets over their entire lifetime. Environmental impact is caused over the entire life of products, from raw materials extraction, production of the product and disposal at the end of life. This information can be found in Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) of carpets, based on Life Cycle Approach. Check those documents to make an informed decision.
- Choose carpets with low VOC. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are organic chemicals that evaporate and enter the surrounding air at ordinary room temperature. Carpet producers can now make carpets with the lowest VOC emissions of all common floor choices. Besides that, maintaining carpets, if done properly, requires fewer cleaning chemicals than other floor coverings.
- Look for carpets which are easy to maintain and last longer. Carpets can stay as good as new for a long time, due to innovations in carpet textiles. Of course, it does also depend on how you maintain them. And, proper maintenance of carpets is easy to carry out in a sustainable way. Check our tips for sustainable carpet cleaning.
- Tile carpets are easily replaceable. Another aspect to look for when buying carpets is what happens when part of it is worn out or destroyed. Will you have to replace entire floor in the room or is there a possibility to replace just the destroyed part? By choosing tile carpets instead of broadloom, you can lower maintenance costs.
- Choose carpets which can be easily recycled. It is estimated that each year 2.5 million tons of carpets end in landfills in the US alone. When the time comes to discard old carpets, look for organizations with recycling programs, such as CARE in the USA or Carpet Recycling UK, or even better, buy from carpet manufacturers with programs to reclaim old carpets. They have developed systems to recycle old carpets and give them a new life.
So, when renovating your home, think of sustainable flooring. You can find many sustainable carpets on the market.