How eco-friendly is your carpet?
Do you love the soft, luxurious feel of carpet underneath your feet but are worried that your flooring choice is not the best for the environment? This brief guide to carpet’s eco-friendly credentials outlines the environmental impact of carpet and how you can choose more sustainable options.
Even with the huge increase in laminate flooring since the 1990s, carpet remains extremely popular in British homes. While many homeowners have ditched carpet for aesthetic or health reasons – allergens are trapped in the fibres, making carpet unsuitable for many allergy sufferers – millions of us still love traditional carpet, especially in our bedrooms; however, how environmentally friendly is carpet?
Carpets can cut down on energy use
Perhaps one of the main reasons so many of us love carpet is that it keeps our homes warm. According to some sources, laying carpet rather than other types of flooring can reduce your heating bill by up to 15 per cent. This is great news for both your bank balance and the environment and is often overlooked when people weigh up the environmental impact of different flooring types.
Carpets vary by manufacturer
There is no disputing that the carpet industry can be heavily polluting; however, this varies dramatically by manufacturer. An increasing number of carpet brands are working with recycled materials to minimise their environmental impact and you can expect this to become far more common over the next year or so. Nylon-based carpet can be particularly resource-heavy to manufacture, so shop around and read literature from the manufacturer if you are worried about the sustainability of a certain brand.
Don’t forget the underlay
There is little point in shopping conscientiously for your carpet if you are not going to make the same effort for your underlay. Before you purchase new underlay, check whether you really need it. The most environmentally friendly underlay is the one already laid under your existing flooring and it is far cheaper for you if you can re-use it under new flooring. If it is falling apart and disintegrating, it will obviously need to be correctly disposed of and replaced; however, if it is still in good condition, you can minimise your carbon footprint by using it for another few years.
Depending on the quality of your underlay, the quality of the installation and the amount of wear and tear it has undergone, decent underlay can last well over ten years. If you do need to replace it, do the same research regarding sustainability as you do for your carpet.