dirty little secret: carpet

carpets can be health hazard hotspots. carpet can off-gas chemicals into the air and be a hiding spot for dust mites. solution: go hardwood and where rugs are necessary choose natural or recycled.

ever wonder what that new carpet smell really is?

most carpets are made with chemicals like flame retardants, glues and dyes that aren’t meant to be in your body. carpet breaks down over time, and the particles that break off can find their way into the air you breathe. what’s more, that new carpet smell is not good. just like the new car smell isn’t good, and the just-painted-house smell isn’t good. that smell comes from off-gassing (the eco-geek word for evaporating) of volatile organic compounds, aka VOCs. if you can smell it, you might as well be eating it.

if you’re not giving your wall to wall the evil eye by now, consider this. carpet harbors dust mites. lots of them. they won’t kill you, but they can provoke existing allergies in the form of itchy eyes and runny noses.

thanks for ruining carpet for me. what are my options?

glad you asked. what about a nice hard floor?

there’s wood and there’s wood. bamboo is a no-brainer choice from the environmental standpoint. it grows like a weed, taking 3 years to mature versus 120 for oak. but it’s much softer than other hardwoods and (high heel wearers, take note) dents easily.

locally cut, FSC certified hardwoods are another option (FSC is the Forest Stewardship Council). FSC certification is like the green version of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for all woods. the FSC makes sure timber is harvested in a land and habitat- friendly way.

things we’re for:

  • buy vintage or reclaimed wood. a quick online search should give you hundreds of local options.
  • buy FSC certified products.
  • look for “smartwood”—wood that has been certified as being produced responsibly from start to finish.
  • opt for woods stained at a factory—let them inhale so you don’t have to. (of course, we don’t want anyone to inhale anything, but factories have more sophisticated ventilation systems to handle it).

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