Can wall-to-wall carpet be a sustainable flooring choice?

If you follow me on Instagram you know I teased a new room reveal with this picture and said it was coming soon. Well I’m sorry to tell you that it will have to wait just a little longer!

Here's a sneak peek , but the full reveal will have to wait just a little longer!

Here's a sneak peek , but the full reveal will have to wait just a little longer!

I so badly want to show you the full reveal for this room and for another but first things, first. New carpet! Once we had these 2 rooms completely done over, the carpet which was in OK-shape with the old designs/layout looked so much worse when the new rooms were put together. The carpet while functional and in decent shape does have some permanent stains that no matter what we tried, would not come up. It was always on the list of things to replace so now with the rooms essentially done, replacing the carpet was moved to the top of the priorities list! Keep reading to learn what you need to know if you want to use carpet in your next flooring project and how to do it sustainably.

Why choose sustainable products?

The issue of climate change and the environment as become a popular topic of late and it’s easy to think that this problem is so big and complicated for one person to make a difference. While it’s true that the issue of sustainability is a complicated one, I believe absolutely that one person can make a difference, because if all of us made more decisions to live a more sustainable and environmentally friendly life, then they would all add up together to many people helping the planet.

So now that we have addressed the BIG issue ;), let’s talk wall-to-wall carpet! Carpet has fallen out of favour in the past couple of decades and has been replaced with a preference by most for hard surfaces, mainly hardwood. Laminate and engineered hardwood has also seen a surge in popularity. I think the main reason for this switch is due to a perception that hardwood floors are an upscale and luxurious choice and many choose to go with a hard-surface floor for health reasons. I have had many people tell me they “need” to replace the carpet in their homes with hardwood to help alleviate their allergies to dust, pollen, pets, etc. And if you have done this and you do notice a difference, then great! You made the right choice! But if you are trying to make that decision right now, I’m here to tell you that you have more options than you thought and amazingly carpet is one of them!

Indoor Air Quality – Allergies

Allergies to dust, mold, pollen, pet dander, etc. are common. Once it was believed that it was easier to prevent reactions to these types of indoor allergens with hard flooring surfaces. The ability to sweep and dust the surfaces allowed a person to collect more of the allergen and dispose of it while carpet was believed to hold onto the dust, etc. and continue to release it into the air.

Certification mark for vacuums.

With some major scientific studies and improvements to vacuum cleaners that is no longer the case. Carpets are now seen as a passive air filter, trapping the particles and removing them from the air. With a good quality vacuum that meets The Carpet and Rug Institute’s Seal of Approval Program and a regular vacuuming schedule, you can keep your carpets looking great and your indoor air clean. You can search a list of vacuums that meet this standard here.

Indoor Air Quality - Chemicals

Look for this logo when shopping to find low-VOC carpet.

Look for this logo when shopping to find low-VOC carpet.

Human health is an important factor in determining whether products are sustainable and indoor air quality is a major factor affecting our bodily health. If the air we breathe in our homes and workplaces is full of chemicals, it will affect our health in the long term. Strangely enough, the smell of new things, like “that new car smell” is something that most people connect with words like “clean” and “fresh” when really it can be harmful chemicals off-gassing into the air that create that smell. For many years, carpet also had that “new” smell and we’ve learned that it was creating poor air quality conditions in our homes and workplaces, environments we spend several hours in everyday of our lives!

If you’ve decided to put carpet in your home, the next step is to ensure that the carpet you choose meets The Carpet and Rug Institute’s Green Label or Green Label Plus Program. If a carpet product meets the Green Label or Green Label Plus certification requirements then you can be sure that it is the lowest emitting carpet, adhesive and cushion product on the market.

The good news is that many of the big carpet manufacturers have made the changes to their product lines and many if not all of their carpets meet the Green Label or Green Label Plus requirements. When I started looking for carpet for the project mentioned above I was surprised to discover that it seemed harder to find a carpet that DIDN’T meet the standard than it was to find one that DID! This means that no matter the style, colour or type of carpet you had your hopes on, it can most likely be found!

Responsibly Manufactured Carpet

When considering whether a product is sustainable or green, it’s best to consider more than only one aspect. The best products for our personal health and the well being of our planet need to use many different strategies in order to really be considered sustainable.

While it seems fairly easy to find carpet products that won’t off-gas into your home, we should also consider how the carpet is made and if there are some choices we can make to help even further. For example, many products these days feature some component of recycled material and carpet is no different. One of my favourite brands of carpet with high-recycled content levels is Flor. Their carpet tiles can be used for wall-to-wall carpet or used to create one-of-a-kind area rugs and runners. Carpet and especially area rugs can also include some rapidly renewable resources like bamboo, sisal and even corn!

And one last sustainable attribute we can consider for carpet is the energy intensity it takes to manufacture the product. Does the manufacturer use renewable energy such as solar or wind power as part of its process? Can they save energy in other ways?

Real-life Choice

So let’s get to the real-life choice that I made recently. The carpet was needed for the full second floor of the house, 4 bedrooms and a hallway. Being my pickiest client ever (me!), I knew I would have to make the right choice. While a hard surface floor would have been great, I still knew we wanted to have carpeted areas in the bedrooms, because frankly it just feels nice. So looking at the cost of a hard-surface PLUS the area rugs I would be need to buy, the costs really started to add up.  With that in mind, I set my sights on wall-to-wall carpet, knowing I could still find something that matched my family’s style. So we set out to find a carpet that was a patterned, cut and loop carpet in a light grey that met the Green Label Plus standard.

This is what we decided to go with:
Mohawk SmartStrand® FOREVER CLEAN™
STYLE: Enduring Qualities (possibly renamed Statement Maker)
COLOUR: Silver Lining

And here’s why:

  1. Colour and pattern we loved!
  2. Meets the Green Label Plus requirements.
  3. Lifetime warranty against stains and soil from humans and pets.
  4. Manufactured from 37% corn sugar - a rapidly renewable resource.
  5. Carpet uses 30% less energy to manufacture and reduces CO2 emissions by 63% compared to nylon 6 fibre carpet.

This is a beautiful carpet. The subtle pattern will add a sense of sophistication to the second floor; it is wonderfully soft and comes with amazing warranties that should guarantee its durability for many years to come. As soon as the installation is complete and the rooms are put back together, I will share the full reveal!

Now it’s time for you to tell me what you think! Would you choose carpet for your home? Are sustainability and/or indoor air quality a factor in choosing products for your home? Let me know in the comments!

Disclaimer: I have not received any compensation or products from any of the companies and organizations mentioned in this post. All opinions are my own.