Domestic eco-diva and greenie mom Alison Lara tackles everyday household dilemmas and solutions for leading a more sustainable lifestyle.
I’m no carpet lady.
Even though the stuff covers most of the floors in our home, I’d much prefer wood, bamboo, cork, cement – pretty much any surface that doesn’t become embedded with dust, hair, allergens and the other flotsam and jetsam tracked in by city living.
Why should you care? Well, if you’ve got carpet, I’ve got news: your floors are filthy, too, and they might be making you sick.
Carpet is the biggest contributor in your home to poor indoor air quality. Leaving shoes at the door helps, as does a HEPA filter vacuum used more than once a week, but carpet is notorious for collecting detritus. Add offgassing adhesive and non-natural fibers, and you’ve got yourself a nice little noxious chamber of particles that can’t be good for your lungs on a regular basis. (The EPA estimates that we spend 90 percent of our time indoors.)
Kids in particular are vulnerable to increased incidence of respiratory illness in carpeted homes. Not only are they breathing closer to the ground (or even licking it, as my two-year-old is prone to do), they’re simply inhaling more allergens and potential toxins pound per pound compared to adults.
Clearly, I’m keen to get rid of the stuff. But until I get that book advance of my dreams (editors, are you listening?) or at least plan a bit more for the expense, the cost to rip up all that of carpet and lay down new flooring is prohibitive in the short-term.
In the meantime, I’ve decided to let my A-personality traits peek through and get serious about the carpet, which in our case luckily is wool. All shoes must be shed at the threshold. I splurged for a shmancy Dyson vacuum. We open our windows regularly – even in Chicago winters, folks – to air out the space.
And perhaps most importantly, I committed to hiring an eco-friendly carpet cleaning service to wash the darn things annually. We found a company that uses plant-based, non-toxic products and the carpets look great when they’ve finished. In fact, I’ll admit to being stupidly happy after they visit, as if some domestic endorphin kicks in at the sight of a pristine home. I breathe in deep. I sigh with satisfaction. I even gloat a little.
Perhaps I’m a carpet lady after all.