This will take your breath away. Every year in the USA around 2.2 million tonnes of discarded carpet ends up in landfill. Here in UK the number is closer to 400,000 tonnes.
That is a lot of material, especially when you think that the majority of carpet is woven from Nylon and polypropylene, both petroleum-based synthetic fibres, so the stuff we’re treading on is mainly plastics.
Not just that – the backing consists of latex and PVC, another two petro-plastics. Furthermore, the cocktail of chemicals in certain dyes and glues have been known to emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that have potentially negative health effects.
Great, here’s another common household material that has the potential to harm us. It’s not just all those pieces of plastic in the sea, microbeads and micro-plastic fibres that are harming our environment it is even our floor covering.
If that was the end of this blog then it would end up in the ‘dark blog’ section on the EcoFrenzy web-site with depressing tag lines, but thankfully it is not.
Increasingly, businesses, householders and local authorities are looking for better ways to recycle unwanted carpet materials.
Here we take a look at some the good things happening with unwanted carpets and there are now several organisations which can help:
- Carpet Recycling UK – a not for profit membership association working to increase the recycling of carpet waste across the UK.
- Freecycle – donate your carpet online.
- Freegle – Donate your carpet online.
- Furniture Reuse Network – donate to your nearest reuse organisation.
- Find A Recycler Near Me – for a full list of specialist recyclers, or check with your local council if they have carpet recycling facilities.
There are many innovative ideas to help overcome the carpet mountain, here are just a few:
- Local Allotments – Wool rich carpet can help keep weeds at bay on paths and in plots. It is also used for insulating compost heaps or the soil in the winter. Wool carpet also has very high nitrogen content which has been proven to considerably increase growth and improve growth rate.
- Local Animal Rescue Shelter – Carpet pieces make good mats for kennels especially in the winter to keep animals warm.
- Anti-frost Windscreen Covers – Cutting a piece to size for your car windscreen will save time (and your hands) defrosting in the winter mornings.
- Insulation – If it is not in the way in your loft keep it there for added insulation! It will retain heat in your home, which will lower your heating bills.
- Pond Liner – Carpet can be used for lining ponds.
If you have any great ideas to reuse carpet please pass them on to firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s half the story – now that you’ve recycled your old carpet, you have to replace it with something new, so how about a recycled or natural flooring material which can be as beautiful, comfortable, and just as durable as their more traditional counterparts. Best of all, natural and recycled materials are better for the environment because they’re made from clean, renewable sources and reuse materials that otherwise might have been landfilled.
Many green flooring options are available for residential use. Natural products include natural-fibre carpeting (wool based), bamboo and cork, and recycled products such as carpet tiles, reclaimed wood, terrazzo, and antique brick and stone.
We can all make a difference by making a bit of effort with our discarded flooring material, then checking out more environmentally friendly alternatives for our next project.