Sustainable flooring options

Why should we worry about the type of flooring we install in our homes? If we want to be sustainable, we want to use flooring that is environmentally friendly, non-toxic and biodegradable. 

Two classic materials for carpet – polypropylene and nylon are both petroleum based (Envirocycle London). They are not biodegradable, taking thirty to forty years to decompose. Polypropylene is difficult to recycle and needs a specialist facility. Nylon can be recycled and repurposed but it is often taken to landfill. 

More sustainable flooring options

Natural fibres like wool, cotton or jute are good sustainable flooring options. Wood flooring is too. Flooring companies are exploring new materials to make their products more sustainable. 

Wool carpeting is ideal for many reasons. Not only is it soft, luxurious, and hardwearing but wool is also biodegradable and renewable. It has thermal properties that keep you warm in winter and cool in summer.

Wools of Cumbria Carpets make beautiful 100% wool carpets from local breeds. They use Herdwick, Swaledale and Rough Fell wool from sheep on the Cumbrian fells. Wools of Cumbria can introduce you to a local carpet fitter across the UK. 

Natural fibres like sisal, seagrass, jute and coir can be used for carpets, mats and rugs. They are natural, organic, biodegradable, and renewable. The neutral colours fit in with interiors and they are low maintenance. 

Alternative Flooring offers a variety of floor coverings. These include luxury 100% wool carpets and sustainable natural fibres like sisal or jute. The plant based fibres are backed with natural latex. 

Aarven sells versatile mats made from palm leaves. They are hard wearing, durable, and come in lovely bright colours. They also support employment in Uganda where they are woven. They also sell bright rugs in 100% wool coloured using natural dyes that can be used as wall hangings too. 

Wooden flooring, when sourced responsibly, is sustainable. Look for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) certified wood. Wooden flooring is hard wearing and easy to clean. 

The British Wood Flooring Company are specialists in wood flooring. They offer reclaimed pine, oak and parquet flooring or new made to order hardwood flooring. Parquet and engineered wood flooring is fitted by their expert team. 

Cork is biodegradable and renewable. It is harvested from cork trees and will grow back if the trees are farmed responsibly. Cork is a lovely warm colour, stain resistant and insulating. 

Recork supplies cork flooring for domestic and commercial applications. Recork’s flooring has an amazingly low carbon footprint of just 0.108 kg of CO2 equivalent per metre squared and when the carbon sequestration of the Montado in Portugal are factored in, it can be negative (-193 kg). 

New sustainable flooring ideas

Flooring suppliers are finding new sustainable materials all the time. Bamboo is promoted as an alternative to wood because it is fast growing grass and can regenerate quickly after harvesting. Linoleum made from linseed oil is a surprisingly sustainable option. Recycled PET is being used to create carpets. There is a lot of choice for what flooring to use.

Choose your flooring wisely. You will be using it for some time. As well as aesthetics, consider comfort, wear, and environmental factors. Natural, renewable fibres are an excellent choice for a sustainable home. 

Annette Clubley

Annette is a keen wildlife conservationist, mindful of sustainability and our impact on the environment. Outside of work, family is her focus and she loves teaching the next generation to enjoy the outdoors.