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10 Tips for Choosing Carpet

Go Green
Go green with carpet made from recycled products.
Go green with carpet made from recycled products.

Many people are shocked to learn just how much carpet, padding and adhesives can impact air quality and health. If you've ever been around brand-new carpet or other building materials, you probably remember that distinctive "new" smell. That odor is caused by volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs, such as formaldehyde, cause poor indoor air quality and can contribute to a host of health problems, including asthma and allergies [source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency]. Protect your family by choosing carpet made from natural products, including wool, jute and other organic materials. Also, look for organic or chemical-free dyes to keep toxic fumes out of your home.

In addition to impacting your health, your choice of carpet can also affect the environment. Reduce your impact with recycled materials, such as carpets made from recycled water bottles. Many manufacturers also use recycled carpeting to produce new rugs, so check the recycled-content percentage before you buy. Keep in mind that nylon and other synthetics are made primarily from fossil fuel byproducts, so choose renewable or recycled products for maximum sustainability [source: Tremblay and Williams].

If you want to go green but feel overwhelmed by your options, consider eco-friendly carpet labeling programs sponsored by independent reviews. The Carpet and Rug Institute's Green Label Plus program or the Green Seal certification program can each provide valuable information on how different carpet options will impact the environment and your family's health.