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Carpets: Soft Under Your Toes, Long-Lasting in the Landfill

You may already know that carpets can be hazardous to your health...if you have dust mite allergies. What you may not realize is how toxic carpets are to the earth. The vast majority of carpets are plastic, and most of those end up in the landfill.  The New York Times has the story:

The  E.P.A. estimates that every year, about 5 billion pounds of carpeting go into landfills. That’s 1 to 2 percent of the total U.S. landfill contribution, or 17 pounds of carpeting per person...

Carpet America Recovery Effort, or CARE, to give consumers ways to keep their carpets out of the landfill. It has a Web site, carpetrecovery.org, that lets people find carpet recycling centers nearby.


Apparently, not every state has access to carpet recycling, so you should look for the greenest, most durable carpeting options for your home.

  • What you see: Recycled or renewable fibers

  • What you don't see: backing and padding made of recycled materials

  • What you breathe: Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are present in many carpets and carpet adhesives. Look for Green Label products.


You might be surprised to learn that linoleum is actually pretty green. Anything that doesn't get ruined when you spill grape juice on it is probably more durable in the long run. Many flooring options do contain VOCs, however, even some that might surprise you like cork. See a summary of VOCs and flooring here.

Tags: Carpet, Clean, Floor, Health, Home, House, Rug

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