Archive for the ‘VOCs’ Tag

Sayonara Green Sacramento   Leave a comment

Today was closing day for Green Sacramento, the local retailer for green building materials. When I first got the announcement in early January a few thoughts ran through my head like “of course, after I buy a house the only retailer of green building materials in town goes out of business,” and “oh no! how are we going to order the carpet for the nursery!” Before we moved into the house, we replaced the flooring in the other three bedrooms and the living room, but since no furniture would be going in the nursery yet, we left that room to be the staging room as we started to move boxes over. The plan was to install that carpet in the spring. Luckily that is still the plan. A couple of weeks ago I went by the store to buy zero-VOC caulk before they sell out and discuss our alternatives for supplying the last section of carpet and padding, so now I know that there is a store in Davis that sells the same brand of carpet. Whew!

Today after our farmer’s market trip, my husband and I drove over to Green Sacramento again, since it was their final closing day. I wanted to see if they had any more caulk (I never got around to caulking the baseboards after installing the flooring), and just see what was left. We didn’t intend to buy much of anything since at the moment we really don’t have the budget available. However, they had very low-VOC stain, which would be nice for a couple of projects on our wish list. And then my husband noticed the stack of wire shelving that was being liquidated, so we bought shelves for the garage workbench that we haven’t yet put together. Then I noticed that AFM Safecoat has glazes, and that tickled my mind about my thoughts for how to paint the nursery. So in a few minutes time, my husband and I discussed the germ of an idea for the nursery walls, almost completely changed that idea so that we could accommodate the types of paint they had left, selected paint and tints (zero-VOC), and bought them. So sometime in the not-too-distant future we will be painting the bottom half of the nursery walls dark green and the top half dusky blue (they were all out of the base paint for light colors). The next nearest retailer to sell AFM Safecoat is in Berkeley, so we abstained from getting any other paints in case we get halfway through a project and need more/make a change. There are other brands of zero-VOC paints, but AFM Safecoat is the brand with which I am most familiar. Last time I looked on the shelves of Home Depot and Lowe’s, they do not carry any no-VOC paints, and so won’t be getting my business regarding painting.

Oh, and we bought all the remaining caulk, too. At 50% off it was hard to resist.

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Posted February 5, 2011 by mayakey in home, shopping

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Flooring Choice #1: Carpet   2 comments

The first decision in the replacing-the-flooring journey was the easy one: wall-to-wall carpeting in the bedrooms. Both my husband and I much prefer the feel of carpet rather than hard flooring under our feet when we get out of bed. We want that area of the house to be soft and padded, with good acoustic dampening, and cozy looking/feeling. An area rug is just not satisfactory in the bedroom. We originally also planned on putting wall-to-wall carpeting in the living room but the floor plan and traffic patterns in this house made us re-think that decision and decide to stick with carpet in the bedrooms only.

We are going to be installing a wool carpet on a natural hemp/cotton backing with rubber adhesive and jute secondary backing made by Earth Weave. I’ve seen plenty of mentions lately about carpet made from recycled plastic as a green choice but had no desire to go that route. The recycled plastic carpet is a wonderful idea from the standpoint of reducing waste to the landfill/incinerator and putting that “waste” material to good use, but those carpets are otherwise pretty much the same as conventional carpet. By that I mean offgassing of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) used in the backing and the chemical waste from making the carpet. Also, at the end of it’s life the recycled carpet has to go to a landfill or incinerator, whereas our wool carpet is biodegradable.

Wool carpet has some additional benefits that other forms of carpeting don’t have. I have the first on good authorities, but we’ll have to see about the other to over the next few years.

  • Wool is naturally flame retardant. (super bonus for bedrooms!)
  • Apparently wool is easier to keep clean than synthetic carpets because the inherent crimp of the fibers keeps dirt and spills at the surface longer than relatively straight synthetic fibers.
  • Apparently the texture lasts longer in wool than synthetic carpets because the crimp is inherent to the fibers.

Carpet does have cons, but they can be moderated a bit. I mentioned some of the cons in my post about removing the old flooring from the house.

Con #1: Carpet traps particulate matter and contributes to poor indoor air quality.

For this reason carpet is not a good choice for high traffic areas. The more traffic, the more particulate matter gets tracked in, ground into the carpeting, and kicked back up into the air. In this case, the bedrooms are not near any of the entrances to the house and can be considered low traffic. (the living room and hallway are at the front entrance though, that’s why we decided against carpet there) Additionally, we sort-of have a “shoes off at the door” policy in our house that at least reduces how much dirt gets tracked around. In my Human Exposure class in grad school we learned just how dramatically different the air quality is (based on particulate matter) in a house with a shoes-off policy compared to one where shoes are allowed throughout the house. Thirdly, we (meaning my husband) have a standard practice of vacuuming the carpeting every week already, so we should be able to keep our new carpet from getting too dusty/dirty and worsening our indoor air quality.

Con #2: “Conventional” carpet offgasses VOCs, which contribute to poor indoor air quality.

So we are buying a “chemical-free” wool carpet. Conventional carpet uses VOCs in dyes, glues, and stain protection, but we are buying an undyed wool carpet with hemp/cotton and jute backings and rubber adhesive. No VOCs, no problem. We will be using a pure wool carpet pad. Again, no VOCs, no problem. It’s a bit more expensive but we can afford it (barely) so we get to go for the ideal.

Posted July 16, 2010 by mayakey in environment, home, shopping

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