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Green–Friendly Flooring – FAQs Character
presenting FAQs

Q: What is Green Flooring?

A: Green flooring consists of flooring products that are eco–friendly, sustainable, recyclable, rapidly replenishable, and minimally– or non–polluting. Green flooring products have significantly less negative impact on the environment than non–green alternatives. Whether flooring is green or not is generally determined by any ecological consequences resulting from its production and use. Factors include: resources used to make it, what it is made of, what it takes to make it into flooring, what it takes to ship, install and maintain it.

Q: Why choose green flooring?

A: Global warming and climate change have been widely–debated topics for a number of years. Many people believe it is our responsibility to do what we can as individuals to help preserve our earth and its natural resources. By choosing green flooring and using green cleaners you can: reduce global dependency on oil, help keep your family safe from harmful indoor pollutants and reduce landfill waste by using recycled products.

Q: How green is my floor?

A: The type of flooring is an important factor to consider. People looking to go green often gravitate toward flooring such as cork or bamboo. But when these floors are shipped over great distances or installed using adhesives containing harmful chemicals, then the overall "greenness" of the floor is lessened. A good idea when purchasing flooring is to look for green labeling. (See question "What is the FSC?") Don't be afraid to ask retailers, manufacturers and installers questions when shopping for green flooring.

Q: What are VOCs?

A: VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are emitted as gases from some solids and liquids. A number of chemicals used in installing and maintaining flooring are considered to be VOCs and can have a number of adverse short– and long–term health effects. The EPA states that long-term exposure to some VOCs can cause "eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea; damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system… [and] some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans." They are emitted by a wide range of products including paints and lacquers, cleaning and disinfecting products, building materials, and glues and adhesives.

Q: What is the FSC?

A: The FSC, or Forest Stewardship Council, is an independent, non–profit organization that was established to promote the responsible management of the world's forests. Products that carry the FSC label are independently certified to have come from forests that are managed in a manner that meets the "social, economic and ecological needs of present and future generations." Some of the requirements in getting wood to be FSC certified include the prohibition of use of hazardous chemicals and the prohibition of the conversion of forests or any other natural habitat.

Q: What is reclaimed wood?

A: Reclaimed wood is wood that has been salvaged from old warehouses, buildings, bridges, or other structures that are being deconstructed for reuse. Wood can also be salvaged from city streets, parks and yards as a result of storm damage or disease. By using reclaimed wood, you can get old–growth timber (which is often harder and more stable than wood from young trees) without destroying ancient forests. Using reclaimed wood also alleviates some of the pressure on overflowing landfills.

Q: Where does recycled carpet come from?

A: Recycled carpet is generally made from post-consumer synthetic carpets, primarily recycled nylon 6, or can be made from recycled plastics such as used soda bottles, and some post-industrial content.

Q: What makes bamboo flooring green?

A: Bamboo is a grass (not a tree) that, when harvested properly, can be ready to be harvested again in 5–7 years. Once the stalk is harvested, it forms new shoots and continues to grow. This makes bamboo a rapidly renewable resource that is reducing our dependency on hardwood products that are less renewable. Some bamboo types are actually harder than oak and makes a very strong, stable floor.

Q: What makes cork flooring green?

A: Cork is the outer bark of the cork oak tree which can be harvested from a mature tree every 9–10 years without harming the tree or the environment. The cork oak tree can live for 150–200 years so its bark can be harvested up to 20 times over the tree's life. This makes cork a rapidly renewable resource.

Q: What makes linoleum flooring green?

A: True linoleum (not to be confused with vinyl) is made from natural products such as linseed oil, pine rosin, sawdust, cork dust, limestone, and natural pigments. It is non–petroleum based and biodegradable. It is also a very durable floor that can last longer than other types of flooring.