Green Carpet

When purchasing eco-friendly carpet, look for carpets with natural and/or recycled materials and few or no toxins or volatile organic compounds.
Rosenfeld Media

Low Emitting Carpets

Some carpets may contain volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. These toxic VOCs will off-gas from the material and can become airborne, infecting your lungs, eyes, nose, and ears. To avoid the negative effects on indoor air quality, choose a low-emitting carpet.

Green Label Plus was established by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI). Green Label Plus is similar to Green Seal, but only for recycled or environmentally friendly carpet and adhesive cushions. The products are established to meet certain compound emission standards, including VOCs.

Sustainable Materials

While low emitting carpets are important for indoor air quality, which is a significant factor in green building, an eco-friendly carpet will also use sustainable materials with low environmental impacts.
You can find sustainably sourced and manufactured carpets by looking for the following labels and certifications:

Cradle to Cradle: Cradle to Cradle certification is granted by MBDC (Mcdonough Braungart Design Chemistry), a third party consultancy founded by the architect William Mcdonough and Dr. Michael Braungart. The goal of the standard is to reduce the human and environmental impacts of the product. The organization awards certification for products in 5 areas: Material Health, Material Reutilization, Renewable Energy and Carbon Management, Water Stewardship, and Social Fairness and at 5 levels: Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

NSF 140 Certification: (http://www.themohawkgroup.com/sitefiles/company_nsf140.html) This standard for environmentally preferable carpets is based on a Life Cycle Assessment, which analyzes a carpet “From raw material sourcing and processing—through manufacturing, packaging, installation and use—to end-of-use recycling and disposal”. The Mohawk Group, which invented the standard, offers Silver, Gold and Platinum NSF 140 certification for carpets.

Free LEED Exam PreperationCarpet Installation

Just as important as purchasing eco-friendly carpet is installing your carpet.

Glues for installing your carpet can also contain toxins and VOCs. Use water-based, low-VOC glues to install them, such as adhesives from American Formulating & Manufacturing, the Environmental Home Center, and Natural Home Products. You can also skip the glue altogether and use tack strips to install your carpet.

Carpet Dyeing

Instead of purchasing new carpet, you can also dye the carpet you currently own to match your interior design scheme. This reduces landfill waste and the use of raw virgin materials, and is likely cheaper than purchasing new, eco-friendly carpet. Color Your Carpet offers carpet dyeing services in over 200 locations in the U.S.

Carpet Recycling

Just as important as purchasing eco-friendly carpet is disposing of old carpet sustainably. Every year, the U.S. sends 5 billion pounds of carpet to landfills, which makes up 3.5% of all American waste disposal. In 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that only 3.8% of disposed carpets were recycled.

In 2002, carpet and fiber manufacturers came together to solve the carpet disposal problem. They signed the National Carpet Recycling Agreement, in which they agreed to increase carpet recycling to 20-25% and carpet reuse to 3-5% by 2012. They formed the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE), which develops market-based solutions for post-consumer carpet recycling and reuse.
 The organization lists carpet recyclers and organizations who can help divert carpet waste.

The following carpet recycling companies are members of CARE, and can help you to recycle your carpet:

1. CarpetCycle is a carpet recycling company that collects used carpet from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Based in Dover, New Jersey, CarpetCycle claims that recycling carpet is not only environmentally friendly, but can also be 35-60% cheaper than conventional collection and disposal. CarpetCycle's typical trailer fee is $50/ton of carpet, which includes the pickup service, trailer rental, transportation and processing costs. Transportation and disposal costs for sending carpet to the landfill is typically $80-120 per ton, so carpet recycling is usually cheaper.

CarpetCycle offers services for residential and commercial projects, including:
1) Rip Up Contracting: The company rips up and collects the used carpet.
2) Pick Up Services: The company picks up carpet that has already been ripped off the floor.
3) Drop Off Services: The CarpetCycle headquarters in Elizabeth, New Jersey allows customers to drop off their carpet for recycling.
4) Ceiling Tile Services: CarpetCycle also collects used ceiling tiles, which are used to manufacture acoustical ceilings.

2. The Carpet Recyclers are a California-based company that collects, sorts and processes used broadloom carpet and carpet tile from homes and businesses on the West Coast.

The Carpet Recyclers, based in La Mirada, California, collect, sort and process used residential, commercial broadloom carpet and carpet tile on the West Coast. Most of the carpet waste is processed in a zero-waste-to-landfill recycling facility, which the company claims is the first of its kind.

Their services include:
1) Trailer Service: Carpet Recyclers charges a flat fee per load for trailer service. The company parks a 28 or 53 foot long trailer at your job site, which is swapped out when it reaches capacity.
2) Drop off Service: Customers can drop off carpets at the company's Northern California or Southern California locations, or at one of its four Independent Carpet Collector locations.
 This can be done by appointment.

The Carpet Recyclers, who claims their fees are cheaper than landfill tipping fees, charge $25/load for pickup truck or van drop off of residential carpet. They charge per ton for larger commercial loads.

3. CLEAR
CLEAR, a Milwaukee based company, offers residential carpet recycling services. It has drop off locations in 17 states, including centers in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio.
 The cost for carpet drop off depends on the drop off location and type of carpet, though some locations do not charge.

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