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4 Sustainable Flooring Options for Eco-Conscious Buyers

Going green is hardly a new concept. As a child of the ’90s, I remember vividly the “reduce, reuse, recycle” campaigns and watching Captain Planet all the time. But perhaps now more than ever, sustainability is a mainstream lifestyle. People use reusable, cloth grocery bags in place of disposable plastic ones, opt for metal straws over plastic ones, drive hybrid cars, reduce their meat consumption, and make structural and design choices to make their homes more green — and that includes embracing sustainable flooring options.

If you’re looking for new floors and eco-friendly flooring is a priority for you, here are four great options that fit a variety of different needs.

Cork flooring

sustainable flooring cork

These resilient, versatile floors are one of the most sustainable flooring options out there. Harvested from the bark of the cork oak tree, cork flooring is a natural product made from tree parts. It’s harvested every nine years, usually in the Mediterranean. The floors often are made by using the bark left over from the wine bottle cork-making process.

Because cork is sourced from tree bark, no trees are destroyed when cork flooring is made. Cork floors are also great insulators, which can help you cut down on energy consumption.

Perfect for: Playrooms, bedrooms, kitchens, cool climates

Bamboo flooring

sustainable flooring bamboo

Made from bamboo grass, bamboo flooring is often cited as one of the more sustainable flooring options out there. Since bamboo only takes three to five years to grow to maturity, it’s a rapidly renewable resource, which contributes to its green bona fides.

However, not all bamboo floors are equally green. Because most bamboo is manufactured overseas, transporting it can be expensive, and shipping contributes to its carbon footprint. There’s also been evidence that some bamboo manufacturers use formaldehyde and adhesives that emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Opt for bamboo products with a Forest Stewardship Council certificate if eco-friendly flooring is your priority.

Perfect for: Living rooms, bedrooms

Linoleum flooring

sustainable flooring linoleum

Not to be confused with vinyl, linoleum floors are an eco-friendly flooring option made with biodegradable materials like linseed oil and pine resin. It’s been around for over a century, and was even featured in the Titanic’s grand ballroom.

Since it’s made with biodegradable materials, linoleum floors are easy to recycle. When the time comes to replace your linoleum floors (after a few decades — it’s pretty long-lasting!) you can take them to an energy-recycling incineration plant, or even compost them in your garden, according to Bob Vila!

Perfect for: Kitchens, playrooms, hallways

Tile flooring

sustainable flooring tile

Made from natural materials and boasting a long life cycle, tile floors are a beautiful and eco-friendly flooring option. Tile doesn’t contain any VOCs or formaldehyde, making it a safe and green flooring choice. And if you opt for American-made tile, the materials used to make product are generally found within 500 miles of manufacturing facilities, according to the Tile Council of North America. This dramatically reduces the energy and emissions that accompany long-distance or overseas shipping.

Tile flooring is also energy-efficient, especially if you live in a hot or humid climate. It’s better at conducting heat than just about any other flooring, which means tile floors can help you cut down on cooling and HVAC costs.

Perfect for: Bathrooms, kitchens, warm climates

About The Author

Lauren Moore

Proud flooring aficionado and office dog mom, "Flauren" has been a professional writer and editor for more than a decade (though she still maintains her magnum opus was "The Day it Snowed Slurpees," written at the age of 6).

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