I’m not talking about the color, although green is certainly a popular earthy color that blends almost anywhere, just like the green in nature.

The green I am referring to is the environmentally conscious, green flooring alternatives that are widely available from almost every manufacturer. From hardwood to laminate to carpet and cleaners, recycled and reclaimed materials are keeping waste out of landfills and lowering man’s footprint on the environment.

The type of natural flooring that usually comes to mind first is the laminate and hardwood varieties, as they are made from a “natural” product – wood. But the commitment to making green products goes beyond the first glance. Wood manufacturers are looking for ways to help the environment by exploring alternative fuel sources and recycling, thus diverting waste from landfills.

Wood from torn-down buildings, some of which are hundreds of years old, is saved from the trash heaps, salvaged, and reclaimed. Beautiful doors from ancient estates can be re-engineered to create unique and beautiful lines of flooring. In addition, these companies are committed to planting more trees than they harvest, contributing greatly to our planet’s sustainability.

Another way the wood manufacturers are working to lower the human footprint on our planet is by creating new efficient uses for parts left over in the manufacturing process. Scraps of core board used in the center of laminated wood floors are ground into sawdust and turned into fuel to process new products. Another process called gasification converts carpet and wood waste to steam energy. More than two million gallons of fuel oil a year are saved through gasification.

While wood products seem the logical source for recycling in flooring, “green” carpet is making a name for itself as well. Each year, billions of plastic soda bottles are turned into carpet fibers that are strong, resilient and stain resistant. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) carpet are known for their strong color lines and resistance to stains and spills. One man’s trash truly is another man’s treasure. The next plastic bottle you recycle just may end up on the floor – as carpet!

Additionally, certain types of nylon fibers used in both commercial and residential applications can be recycled and regenerated into new carpet. Discarded rubber tires come back to life as sturdy outdoor mats. 

Another innovative environmental product being used to make carpet is corn. Mohawk offers a product with lifetime-stain protection that boasts 37 percent of ingredients made from corn sugar. These renewably sourced ingredients replace ingredients that traditionally were derived from petroleum, a limited resource. Every seven yards of this carpet saves the energy equivalent of one gallon of gasoline.

Even adhesives used in installation of wood, commercial carpet, vinyl, and ceramic have become environmentally friendly, eliminating previously harmful ingredients and fumes. Most major manufacturers offer lines of cleaning products that are made from natural ingredients and free of harmful, processed chemicals.

As the world population grows, echoed by the demand on our planet’s resources, so has the commitment from the flooring industry to renew and recycle products in innovative ways.

Barbara Abramson and her husband, Ira, are owners of Sanford Carpet, a full-service flooring store in Sanford.