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by Katy Purviance on 06/23/08 @ 01:16:54 pm
Categories: Products | 395 words | 1630 views

I don’t like carpet. I just read this article in Natural Home Magazine by Umbra Fisk that pretty much sums up why I don’t like carpet. Take a look.

Carpet is our nation’s No. 1 floorcovering for several reasons: comfort, ease of purchase and low, low price. These are great reasons to buy something, so it’s unfortunate that carpet should be avoided.

A carpet pad gives carpet its softness underfoot and protects the carpet backing. Carpets themselves are usually either woven or tufted material that’s tied and glued to a backing for stability. Almost all carpet fabric is petroleum-based—wool is the main exception—and turning oil into fibers is water- and chemical-intensive.

The worst components of carpet manufacturing, which should make us all care enough to avoid the stuff, are benzene and toluene, the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the adhesives. They and other chemicals outgas, making some sick and others worry. The good news is, there are less toxic carpets and some carpet companies have worked quite hard to reduce their environmental impact.

Buy wool if you can afford it, look for recycled-content carpet, use tacks rather than adhesives, or find carpet made with low-VOC adhesives that meets Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) indoor air quality standards. Look for padding made of wool or recycled materials that doesn’t require adhesives.

No matter which carpet you choose, it still poses problems. You can’t avoid mold, dust mites and collected environmental toxins that you will drag into the house over time. Have you seen the grime in floor cracks? That grime is mashed into your carpet permanently, along with all the toxins already in the carpet.

If you have the cash, go with large area rugs. They can be vacuumed on both sides or shaken out, or taken to a professional. And for all you home décor mavens, they’re easier to change with the shifting fashion winds.

A special thanks to Umbra Fisk.

Umbra Fisk dispenses advice on all things green for Grist Magazine (, an online publication that tackles environmental topics with irreverence, intelligence and a fresh perspective. To submit a question, e-mail Want more green advice? Check out Grist’s new book, Wake Up and Smell the Planet, for guidance on how to green your life. Go to</blockquote>

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places where you could probably learn more about designing and building in just a few days than I did after a year of grad school

Know of some others I can add here? Let me know. Have you already visited some of these places...or planning on it? Let me know and I will feature your story and your photos here!

I am starting a new kind of architecture school. Unlike most architecture schools, you wouldn't have to submit GRE scores or good grades or letters of recommendation. You wouldn't have to put the rest of your life on hold for 3 to 5 years. You wouldn't have to accrue tens of thousands of dollars in debt. At my architecture school, anyone could come for a few weeks and learn how to build a house with their own two hands. My teachers would take skills and concepts from some of these other workshops I've listed above... except classes would be held year-round to make it easy to fit into your schedule. I would have a number of different campuses around the country that would teach building designs appropriate to the local climate. And I need your help. Can you donate land for a campus? Can you dotate books for a library? Can you teach a workshop? Can you provide start-up capital? Let me know.

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