From the August/September 2008 Issue:

Eco-Friendly Carpet

  • Writer: Lisa Rackley

Choosing eco-friendly carpeting can be daunting. Here are some hints to make the process easier.

Article Photo
enlarge | Merida Meridian Inc. (inset) offers flat-woven, dyed, and printed area rugs and wall-to-wall carpeting made from paper, cotton, linens, wool, sisal, hemp, jute, bamboo, and seagrass. Shown is Abaca Appari Pearl. Nature’s Carpet manufactures 100 percent wool carpeting with jute backing and padding. Adhesives are made of natural rubber latex. From left, Seteria II Pebblestone, Cladium Granite Ridge, Boreal Akubra, Aureg Bracken, Aureg Autumn Wheat, and Cladium Sandstone Ridge. $45 to $70 per square yard. For a source, 800-667-5001 or
Wool is a good choice because it’s 100 percent biodegradable and has natural insulation properties. Wool tends to be tough, but also flexible and soft underfoot.

Sisal is antistatic, absorbs sound, and is made from the strong and durable fibers of the renewable agave plant.

Jute is soft, flexible, and hardwearing, making it well-suited to high-traffic areas. It’s also 100 percent recyclable and biodegradable.

Abaca, a less-known option, is derived from plants in the banana family and is considered the strongest of all natural fibers. It has a natural range of colors from glossy white inner fibers to coarse dark outer fiber and it varies in texture.

Hemp is one of the softest and longest natural fibers. In addition to carpeting, it’s made into fabrics and wallpaper.

Seagrass has an exotic natural beauty so it’s rarely dyed. It’s durable, comfortable on bare feet, and moisture repellent.

Carpeting almost always requires padding and glue or other adhesive during the installation process so consider the following before you buy:
• Ask what materials are in the padding and adhesive because some contain harmful chemicals that off-gas for a long time. Water-based or low-emitting adhesives are better than solvent-based options.
• If the seller isn’t sure, ask to see a materials report or contact the manufacturer yourself.
• No matter what kind of carpeting you purchase, make sure it’s rolled out in a well-ventilated area for 48 to 72 hours before it’s installed.

Additional Information
The Carpet and Rug Institute ( sets environmental standards for carpeting and carpet-cleaning products. It’s an industry-supported organization so keep that in mind when doing your research. CRI does recognize The Green Label Plus system (also recognized by the LEED rating for safe Indoor Air Quality) and uses a California standard that includes some of the most rigorous testing for volatile organic compounds and other emissions.

Scientific Certification Systems ( is an independent organization that tests the material safety and environmental impact of products. Its website includes a list of eco-friendly carpet manufacturers and dealers. - DNJ