Just choosing hardwood is a more environmentally friendly flooring option! Carpets are usually more short term and end up in the landfills every few years. That is why there is now CA Carpet Stewardship Fee on every new carpet purchased, you are paying for the space your old carpet is now taking in the land fill. And the Federal Government and The State of California has done a lot of the work for you. They have passed legislation that regulates CARB compliance (off-gassing and formaldehyde) and The Lacey Act requires that we document where the wood is coming from so that we aren’t taking it from rainforests and so that people have a vested interest in reforestation.
What extra steps can you take to ensure you are getting an eco-friendly product? FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) is an extra certification some companies get to insure that the wood comes from managed forests. They plant more logs than they pull, making sure to clear the land. There are large Manufacturers that have been doing a great job with the environment (and their employees, plants, and glues) for a long time. Canadian companies Lauzon and Mirage are well known for this (as well as the high-quality product they produce) as well as Kahrs in Europe. US companies are Homerwood and Owens. These higher quality, guaranteed floors usually come at a little higher price tag, but offer a better wearing, fitting floor as well. Most brands you will find in our showrooms these days are smaller, reginal brands that have been developed to fit the local aesthetic at competitive prices. You still have state legislation in place to make sure these products that are developed overseas (mostly China) follow the health safety guidelines.
As far as carpet: wool is the most eco-friendly option. Mohawk and other brands have fibers that are partially made of recycled products, but that is only a small percentage. They still off-gas that “new carpet smell”. Wool is biodegradable and can be purchased completely untreated- of course different brands offer different clarity.
Cork is a great “green” option because you don’t have to kill a tree to take its bark! It actually saves the tree. It all comes out of Portugal, so there is already great formaldehyde regulation in place. Bamboo only has a 6 year gestation period so it is considered a “greener” option as well. There is a LOT of bamboo coming out of China and it is not all equally regulated! We only carry a couple large vertically integrated American companies so that we can make sure we get the highest quality of bamboo, as it is known to not be stable if not manufactured correctly. Both cork and bamboo are fantastic flooring options; I believe it is more a stylistic choice.