Not all ‘green’ is equal
Eco-friendly labels don’t mean a product will help the planet
The concept of going “green” — using earth-friendly products and applications — is a trend that has certainly exploded in popularity as of late.
According to recent polls, nearly 70 percent of the U.S. population feels that the environment is in a downward spiral, a view that has grown steadily since 2001. It is quickly becoming evident that humans need to be more environmentally minded. And the home is the perfect place to start being eco-friendly.
Going green at home is one of the first steps a person can take to improve the environment. However, it is important to point out that not all green practices are equal in terms of their impact on the earth. As “green” grows by leaps and bounds, a variety of industries and companies seem ready to climb on board the environmental train. Consequently, consumers need to know how to separate the truth from the hype in order to make informed choices.
What does “green” really mean?
Consumers can get a better idea of how environmentally friendly a product is by paying attention to how the product is made and to what happens to the product after it is used. Many products contain recycled content, but if they are not recyclable, they could end up in the world’s overflowing landfills. Consumers also should know that many recycled products are actually “downcycled,” that is, they are recycled into a different type of product that could eventually go into a landfill. While both of these scenarios are better than not recycling at all, they are only “less bad” for the environment. However, a completely green solution exists: cradle- to- cradle recycling.
Cradle-to-cradle is a philosophy that describes the continuous re-use of a product. The cradle- to- cradle recycling process takes a product after its useful life and recycles it back into the same product in an unending cycle. With cradle-to-cradle, products can be remade over and over again as long as consumers properly recycle them. In addition, there is potential for no waste since products can be reincarnated indefinitely with no need for disposal in a landfill.
Many companies are adopting cradle-to-cradle practices. Shaw Industries, one of the world’s largest flooring manufacturers, has been a pioneer in eco-friendly flooring products for more than 10 years —before going green became mainstream. Cradle-to-cradle is an important aspect of the company’s eco-conscious program, the Shaw Green Edge. And Shaw’s Evergreen Nylon Recycling plant is making cradle-to-cradle carpet recycling a reality.
The Evergreen Nylon Recycling plant is the only operating facility of its kind in the world. At Evergreen, postconsumer carpet waste is broken down and recycled into caprolactam pellets (the basic form of recyclable nylon), which can be used to make new nylon carpet again and again without the loss of aesthetic or performance qualities.
Cradle- to- cradle recycling is especially important in the carpet industry because carpet waste is a significant contributor to landfills. Research has indicated that 4.6 billion pounds of carpet are sent to landfills each year representing about two percent of total landfill volume. Shaw’s recycling efforts are designed to divert nearly 300 million pounds of carpet waste from landfills annually.
Shaw is launching a postconsumer carpet collection program to facilitate Evergreen’s production. Consumers can determine whether their carpet is recyclable by looking for a “ recyclable” logo on Shaw’s Anso nylon and other nylon 6 products. Shaw’s recyclable carpet is made from Type 6 nylon, the only post- consumer carpet fiber in the residential market that can be broken down and recycled back into carpet repeatedly.
Green Products: Both Fashion- Forward and Forward Thinking
Consumers do not have to compromise quality in order to help the environment. Products made from cradleto- cradle practices continue to maintain their beauty and durability even after being remade multiple times.
Shaw’s Inspired Spaces recyclable carpet collection is an example of a cradle-tocradle product that is both fashion-forward and forward thinking. Inspired Spaces products can be recycled at Shaw’s Evergreen facility; plus, they feature rich colors and trendy, multi-dimensional patterns like crocodile and houndstooth, so consumers do not have to sacrifice their personal design styles to be environmentally minded. These carpets help turn any room into an eco-friendly work of art.
For more information on Shaw’s green flooring products, visit www. shawfloors. com/recycle.