What is sustainability?
It’s become a popular catch-phrase in our society.
Sustainability refers to the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources within our society in order to maintain an ecological balance. The more we learn about what harms our world, the more we find ways to change what we do to create equilibrium around the globe.
That means doing what’s right for the world. Paying attention to deforestation and how we handle crop rotation. Stopping the production and use of VOC – volatile organic compounds – that harm everything from our water to our air supply, to our health. Investing in technology to improve efficiencies of everything we do.
As buyers, we’re now more aware than ever about the products we bring into our lives. We’ve started noticing what materials are used, where they are sourced from, and how they impact our world.
And once you pay attention, you can no longer ignore.
What makes a flooring sustainable?
If you desire to install a sustainable flooring, it’s important to understand what that means. It’s about finding the right choice to reduce your carbon footprint. It’s about finding an option that is eco-friendly.
And it’s more than that too. It’s not just the product itself. It’s about every aspect, including:
- The manufacturing process
- The supply chain
- What natural resources are used
The entire process, from beginning production to the way the product is disposed of at end of life should be taken into consideration.
What are some of the top sustainable flooring options available?
Cork – don’t let the cork in your favorite bottle of wine fool you. Cork is a strong, durable material you can use on floors throughout your home. It’s harvested from the bark of the cork oak tree found on trees throughout the Mediterranean. Because the bark grows back every three years, it’s an ideal renewable resource. It has antimicrobial properties that can help improve the air quality of your home. It is also fire retardant, making it a great choice all across the Rocky Mountain region.
Bamboo – bamboo is another flooring material growing in popularity. Bamboo isn’t a tree, but instead, is a grass. It’s a sustainable option as this natural vegetation grows to maturity in three to five years. Even though it’s created from grass, it has the characteristics of hardwood. Its varied grains can create intricate patterns, and it’s available in a wide array of colors.
Linoleum – don’t confuse linoleum with vinyl; the two are separate products. Vinyl is made from a synthetic material, which can be harmful to the environment. Linoleum is crafted from linseed oil, cork dust, tree resin, wood flour, ground limestone, and natural pigments. That gives it similar qualities to everything you love about cork. It’s both fire retardant and water resistant, making it the perfect choice for many rooms in your home. This isn’t a new product; you might remember it from your grandmother’s house. It fell out of favor with the introduction of vinyl. Linoleum was also much more difficult to maintain dozens of years before. But with its reemergence, you’ll find vibrant colors, new sealants, and durability that can withstand whatever your family dishes out.
Glass tiles – glass tiles might not be the perfect choice for every situation, but when you choose them for your home, you’re going to love the results. Yes, you can install glass tiles as flooring. Think similar product characteristics as ceramic tiles. What’s more, you can find glass tiles recycled from a variety of products, including wine bottles. That could be a perfect addition to your wine cellar. Of course, glass tiles also work well in other applications – your bathroom shower, the backsplash in your kitchen. When you see the limitless array of colors, patterns, and finishes, you’re going to find the perfect choice for every situation.
Wool carpet – a lot of carpet is made from synthetic materials. But if you love the feel of carpet, and want a sustainable flooring option, look no further than wool carpet. It’s soft, comfortable, warm, and comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns. While many carpet materials on the marketplace today are created with volatile organic compounds, wool carpet is all natural and eco-friendly. It’s one of the first materials used for floor coverings, and because of its strength and durability, is often passed down from generation to generation.
Hardwood flooring – hardwood flooring continues to be one of the most popular flooring choices across the Front Range. It’s good to know that if you choose wisely, it can also be a sustainable flooring choice too. Of course, not every hardwood flooring choice is sustainable; you’ll need to pay attention to the manufacturer you choose. There’s a lot of marketing going on making certain buzzwords sound better than they truly are.
Green can be used if any part of the process has environmental value. If a flooring is created from a recycled material, for example, it can be sold as green, even if the entire production process from beginning to end-of-life isn’t sustainable. That’s why it’s important to pay attention and ask questions to any product you choose.
Sustainability starts with farming. Is the wood harvested from sustainably grown forests? Are sustainable options used throughout the manufacturing process? Renewable energy in the factories? Sustainable transportation for getting the product ready for final delivery?
You can also look for products and materials that are properly certified from places like the Greenguard Environmental Institute. This is an industry-independent, third-party, non-profit organization that offers three certification programs to help you identify products and materials that meet certain qualifications. To achieve the certification, products must meet field-validated and performance-based standards in order to qualify. They must also demonstrate the use of low chemical and particle emissions.
Whatever flooring choice you choose, spend a little extra time thinking about how it was manufactured. A better quality product means better indoor air quality for your home. And when you pay attention, you can choose one that works well for your family and your home.
Is sustainable flooring in your future?