Overcoming my green guilt

Three months ago we started a kitchen remodeling project. That action tipped the first domino in a long line of those little black rectangles. Since the kitchen, dining room, entry hall, and living room are all on one floor, and because no home project can be simple and defined, we’ve ended up remodeling the entire floor. Part of that project involved removing the carpet from the living room and dining room floors so we could enjoy the hardwood floors that lie beneath.
   With that background, here’s where my green guilt comes in.
   This past Friday I helped our waste removal specialist toss several rolls of old carpet into his mechanized trash transporter. Since I write and read about sustainable building materials every day, all that went through my mind, as I heaved rolls of carpet into that bin, was whether I should have made an effort to find some kind of carpet recycling pickup service instead of allowing the carpeting and foam padding to go to the landfill. I felt guilty.
   Yesterday I had an opportunity to communicate with the good people who do public relations for Dow Chemical Co., Midland, MI, and their carpet backing manufacturing plant in Dalton, GA, which uses Dow’s LOMAX technology process to manufacture latex carpet-backing material. I’d heard the story before, but I’ll tell it again so others can learn and because it helps me with my guilt.
    At the Dalton, GA, plant, the process annually uses 160 billion BTU of methane gas from landfills to produce carpet backing material. According to the Dow people, using the methane as an energy source reduces annual CO2 emissions by approximately 20 million lb. and replaces more than 200,000 barrels of black gold. The Dow people also claim that their carpet backing products can represent as many as five points under the renewable-energy section of the new NSF 140 Carpet Sustainability Standard (NSF Int’l, Ann Arbor, MI). Carpets certified under the NSF standard are eligible to receive a half to two LEED innovation points. I could list several other features/benefits about the LOMAX technology, but you get the idea—it’s green good.
   Now that my LOMAX knowledge is refreshed, my guilt level is greatly reduced because I can rationalize that maybe the rotting carpet I should have had recycled will do some green good by generating methane gas to power some Illinois entity.—Gary L. Parr

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