The Low Down On Green Living
March 5th, 2009
A friend of mine is just about to have a baby, and she asked me for my thoughts on what kind of carpet or rug they should get for the nursery. Naturally, we here at Low Impact Living have many suggestions!
First, most commercially-made carpet is loaded with nasty chemicals which can off-gas and pose health risks to your baby and your family. (Learn more about indoor air quality.) Many carpets contain a chemical called 4-phenylcyclohexene (4-PCH), which is a byproduct of the latex binder used to secure the fibers to the backing. 4-PCH is a volatile-organic compound (VOC) that off-gases and is unhealthy to breathe.
Remember that babies and small children are more susceptable to air-borne toxins than we adults, so it’s particularly important to make good choices in nursery’s and childrens’ rooms. So I would say “no thanks” to most wall-to-wall carpet options. (In fact clean, natural, bare flooring options like reclaimed hardwood flooring or Marmoleum (shown at right) are really the best option from a health perspective–because they don’t trap allergans and chemicals like rugs and carpets do. But some people may not like these harder surfaces for little legs and arms crawling and knocking about!
How about a cork floor? Cork is a wonderful option because it is a renewable resource, dampens sounds (great for sleeping babies), and is soft on little bodies. Cork is harvested by shaving off the “bark” of the tree– trees are not killed in the process. I think a cork floor in a nursery would be green and groovy!
But if you’re set on getting some kind of carpet or rug, you have many great options.
You might consider a hemp rug. Hemp is a wonderfully sustainable material and is also durable and comfortable. Abundant Earth makes lovely hemp rugs made free of child labor in India, as does Rawganique, which uses European hemp fibers.
Other sustainable fibers include sisal, seagrass, and jute. All are rapidly renewable and can be woven into lovely rugs. They are also super durable and hold up great with the “spills and thrills” of children. Natural Area Rugs.com has a huge selection of all of these materials.
How about putting some Japanese flair into your room? Japanese Igusa mats are made out of sustainably-harvested, quickly regenerating rushes and are durable, beautiful, and comfortable. Raku Livingsells wonderful igusa mats for homes– and they have a super cute kids line with adorable bunnies, monkeys and elephants–oh my!
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