Wall to wall carpeting can off-gass (emit toxins) for up to 5 years after installation. I’m a huge proponent of NO CARPETING period, however, if you must have wall-to-wall-carpeting, there are eco-friendly alternative you can choose. Fibers are now made from recycled plastic bottles, paper, agave plants (think tequila!), wool, cotton and sisal. It should also be noted that the carpet padding you choose can be eco-friendly as well-look for rubber padding. Rubber padding will help extend the lifetime of your carpet and if damaged, all you have to do is cut out the piece that was ruined and place another piece into empty space.
It should also be noted that carpeting is one of the top 3 largest contributors to our landfills. Europe leads North America in the reclamation and recycling of old carpeting and padding-although we are catching up. When purchasing carpet, make sure to ask about their reclamation program. FLOR carpet tiles, Shaw and Mannington all recycle their carpeting. Additional fees may apply so make sure to verify with your designer or salesperson.
Last time we spoke of the #1 indoor pollutant in your space, but what takes the #2 spot? Paint. Paint adds color, and texture, to our space bringing in energy and ambience to our space. But did you know that paint can off-gass up to 18 months after application? The toxins that we are breathing in when painting or afterward, are the anti-mold inhibitors and drying agents used in the paint. The paint manufacturing process is also a major polluter of our waterways with the dumping of waste chemicals into the water.
The toxins in paint are called VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds. Breathing in these VOCs can cause: headaches, fatigue, upper respiratory illnesses and in some cases, cancer. So what do you do, not paint? No. Every paint manufacturer makes a no or low VOC paint. You just have to ask for it. I always spec out Sherwin Williams paint, and their eco-friendly line is called Harmony. Harmony is available in a variety of colors AND available for exterior paints and stains as well. When buying your paint, or discussing with your designer or painter, make sure you/they ask for a no/low VOC paint. You will be able to sleep/occupy the space that night.
Did you know that the candles you choose to burn in your home contribute to the decreasing air quality in your space? Candles with the wrong wicks can cause breathing problems, headaches and can damage your walls with black streaks. Yuck! Candles are actually the #3 indoor polluter. So with this knowledge, why would you ever want to burn a candle again?
The “bad” candles that are causing all the problems are candles that have LEAD WICKS. It is the burning of the lead as the wick goes down that causes the blackness on the walls, the smoking that can occur and emits the toxins in the air that can cause health issue. So-when buying candles, take a look at the core of the wick-if you see metal-DON’T BUY IT! Also bend the wick, if it stays in place, there is a metal core in the wick. You want to look for wicks that are made of cotton-preferable unbleached cotton (the bleaching process also poisons our waterways). This should be noted on the labels. When in doubt ask.
What makes up the candle is just as important as the wick. Look for candles made from soy, palm wax or beeswax. Olive oil is also the “new” ingredient being used in candle wax-look for this to hit the shelves this upcoming holiday season. The above-mentioned wax choices also help to retain the scent longer and burn longer. Essential oils are also a MUST for those buying scented candles. Inexpensive candles are usually scented with synthetic oils, usually derived from petrochemicals. Synthetically derived scents also “lose their scent” faster (think of a synthetically derived air freshener that you have to keep spraying to keep the scent in the air) AND can aggravate upper respiratory illnesses, headaches and fatigue. As always, refer to the label or ask.