Reusing carpet or other floor coverings is one of the most sustainable ways of approaching the flooring problem. By using flooring material that some one else has discarded you are not only saving that from going into a landfill site, but also preventing the use of energy and materials that would have gone into the new flooring that you would otherwise have bought for your home.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The recommended process to adopt is reduce, reuse, recycle. For the most sustainable approach to living you try to reduce your usage of energy and resources. If you can’t do that, and in this case it is difficult to lead a family life without some sort of floor covering, then you move onto the next one, reusing. Only after that, if you can’t find a second or third use for something, do you dispose of it and you recycle it if at all possible.
So if you can reuse carpet, vinyl flooring or any other flooring material, so much the better for the planet and everyone living on it. This is the mantra adopted by Jeremy McDonald* from Essex, and he did his best to follow it when he needed to carpet a new home extension.
Carpet for a Home Extension
“It’s just another room stuck on the end of the house, you have to go outside to get into it, so we needed something that would cope with the muck from the garden. It’s a garden room but really it’s a home office for the missus. We might try and build a corridor one day but can’t see it happening quickly.”
In case anyone’s wondering why you have to go outside to get to the new room, the end wall of the house is three foot thick, three hundred year old stone and the floor level is three feet higher than the extension. So if would have been prohibitively expensive to integrate the home extension properly. And as it’s an office it’s used all year round.
The Office Blag
“I love Freecycle,” said Jeremy, referring to the online forum where people post unwanted items, “but the first shout we got was from a mate’s work where they were refurbishing.”
“We got in there at the crack of sparrows on the Saturday, just before the crew came in to gut the offices. We took up all the carpet tiles from the edges and under tables, where they weren’t worn.”
Carpet tiles are great for reusing because they can be turned and moved to equalise wear, making them last much longer. But there was one problem that Jeremy hadn’t foreseen.
Hidden Decision Maker
“Er, yeah, the missus wasn’t that keen on the grey-blue and red tiles, really,” he said ruefully. “Looks to much like an office.” She said, “but it IS your office, babes”, I told her, but it wasn’t ever going to be a goer.”
“It was back to the drawing board. I put the tiles on Freecycle and now they’re keeping weeds away on some bloke’s allotment,” Jeremy said. “Now, the trouble with Freecycle is your never sure what you’re going to get, or when, and you have to have somewhere to put it all if you’re doing a big project like this.”
“So the missus was already getting a bit antsy with all the stuff hanging around and then she decided she wanted wood or laminate flooring. But there’s so many different types and never quite enough of it, because it’s all off-cuts.”
Jeremy in the end had about three different loads of laminate flooring, none of enough to do the extension in one fell swoop. He was about to do a sort of jigsaw effect, bridging the gaps with wooden mouldings, when he hit the jackpot.
Five Hundred Pounds Worth of Flooring
“A house in a village a few miles down the road, on the banks of the Blackwater, was flooded the year before last and although it wasn’t too bad, they had to replace the flooring in their through lounge and dining room.”
“Engineered oak floorboards, loads of it, just had to cut the ends off where the water came in under the patio doors. Brilliant! I looked it up, it’s still on sale, five hundred quids-worth!”
Done Deal So that was it. Although it took six months, Jeremy had his flooring, enough to do the extension and one of the bathrooms. The other bits he’d got in the meantime went in one of the bedrooms and the downstairs toilet.
An excellent result for the environment and for Jeremy.
* names have been changed.