Think about all of the carpet you step foot on during a given day. It is probably much more than you realize. Perhaps surprisingly, the carpets we have all come to know and love for their warmth and coziness whilst wiggling our bare toes are clogging landfills at an alarming rate. The University of Washington is trying to change this fact. One UW news article written in early 2009 details one employee’s initiative to find the most sustainable solution for old, worn-out carpets. Operating with the conviction to do something “green” with the no longer necessary floor covering, Breona Gutschmidt, a facility services employee at UW, brings her struggle of finding an eco-friendly (and budget sensitive) option to campus.
Gutschmidt found a local company, Recovery 1, based in Tacoma, WA, that recovers and recycles not only carpeting, but also construction debris, land-clearing debris, unpainted wood, cement siding, railway cross ties, fiberglass and much, much more. In all of its operations, Recovery 1 has reclaimed over 1 million tons of material that would otherwise plug a landfill.Gutschmidt’s journey is one shared by many throughout the United States — and surely the world. As people throw the status quo cycle of “buy, use, trash” to the wind, more and more cradle-to-cradle initiatives are growing. And, as the outcry for environmentally friendly services grows, so does the business opportunity. Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) is an initiative tackling the issue of trashed carpeting head on. According to the company website, CARE has successfully kept billions of pounds of carpet out of our landfills. That’s right, billions, with a “b.” And, while these numbers are staggering, the number that really hit home is the little counter featured on CARE’s website that counts up all of the pounds of carpeting saved from lying uselessly in a junk pile while visiting the site. While spending roughly 10 minutes on the website, CARE has already saved 23,000 pounds from heading to the junk heap. More statistics are offered from yet another company that has an interest in saving fuzzy flooring from an unnecessary demise. Color Your Carpet is a Jacksonville, FL-based flooring company that does exactly what the name implies — carpet coloring. Motivated by the goal of making such fabric last much longer, Color Your Carpet offers the “only, onsite, fulltime, 100% carpet dyeing & color restoration service in the world.” By recoloring one’s carpet, property owners have a cost-effective alternative to throwing out their carpet when one area gets dull or the color no longer matches the design scheme. Color Your Carpet’s website also offers some incredible statistics:
- Roughly 4 billion pounds of carpet still arrives in landfills every year (that’s 800 millions square yards).
- An estimated 9 billion pounds of carpet is sold in the United States annually.
- The Carpet and Rug Industry (CRI) estimates that 70% of trashed carpet annually is thrown out for reasons otherthan wear. The following reasons top the list:
- The owner states the carpet was the wrong color or an outdated color.
- The owner was tired of the current color and wanted a change.
- The owner states that the carpet is ugly, discolored or warn out.
- Of all floor covering, carpet accounts for 72% of the market.