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Sustainable and Renewable Flooring

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 31 Mar 2011 | comments*Discuss
 
Environmentally-friendly Flooring

For many people nowadays, their choice of flooring must not only look good and provide functionality, but also be environmental-friendly. There are many good reasons why you should choose sustainable flooring, by using renewable sources or Recycled Material, you reduce demands on nature and pressure on landfills - as well as lowering our dependency on oil and all its toxic by-products. You also create a safer environment for yourself and your family, as well as ensuring the health of the earth for future generations. Also in many cases, the eco-friendly option is also the cost-saving one in the long run, with natural materials that last longer than conventional flooring.

Bamboo Flooring

A renewable 'timber' (technically, bamboo is a grass) that has become a fashionable choice; bamboo is elegant and beautiful to look at, fitting well with many decor themes. It is natural anti-microbial and water-resistant, as well as being extremely durable. Modern bamboo flooring is even available with tongue-and-groove technology so that DIY installation is easy with a simple snap and lock mechanism. While it may be more expensive than laminate, bamboo is less expensive than traditional hardwood flooring and makes a fantastic alternative. Try to choose bamboo flooring which has been manufactured without formaldehyde resin in its adhesive.

Cork

With its soft cushioning, wonderful sound- and temperature-insulation and its natural anti-microbial properties, cork is a fantastic choice as a floor covering. It is especially resilient and springs back easily from heavy traffic and weights, such as furniture. It is also one of the most environmentally-friendly choices, as cork derives from the bark of the oak cork tree which can be continually harvested with no harm to the tree and therefore is a truly renewable resource. Cork tiles are a great choice if you're thinking of attempting some DIY flooring and while it may not be cheap; its durability means that your investment will last for years to come.

Natural Linoleum

This is made of cork, linseed, tree rosin, jute and limestone and is extremely durable, easily lasting over 40 years. As it is biodegradable and non-toxic, it is an extremely environmentally-friendly choice of flooring, compared to vinyl which is made from plastic, with a production and disposal process that results in some of the most damaging pollutants worldwide. In addition, Linoleum is anti-microbial and easy to maintain and makes a great alternative to expensive hardwood flooring.

Recycled Carpet

Believe it or not, it is also possible to have environmentally-friendly carpet. In the general sense, this means choosing carpets made from natural fibres such as Wool, Jute and Coconut Husk. However, it is also possible to have carpet made completely from recycled food and drink containers (used polyethylene terephthalate). Not only is this reusing material that would otherwise be blocking up landfills but it also uses dyeing methods that are less polluting and require less energy than other flooring.

Wood

If you really have your heart set on wood flooring, then it is still possible to choose more environmentally-friendly options. This means selecting Reclaimed Wood, which can give your interior great character, or wood that has come from a sustainably-managed forest, with proper timber certification to confirm this. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international organisation which has developed a system for certifying forests around the world that are sustainably-managed and providing a label for products derived from such forests. Thus, when choosing a wood floor, make sure you ask the suppliers if the timber is FSC certified.

Last Tip

It pays to think about more than just the main material. For example, most carpets end up in landfill because the adhesives used in their constructions make them difficult to recycle. However, companies are now developing revolutionary backing systems, which do not use glue, thereby making the final processing easier and even prolonging the life of the carpet. So keep this in mind when next selecting a carpet. Similarly, choose a felt underlay as opposed to conventional foam types as this is made of recycled material. Another alternative is crumb rubber underlays which are made from recycled car tyres.

With a little thought and consideration, it is possible to have beautiful and functional flooring while still doing your bit for the environment.

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