At this time of year, when it starts to get cold we all yearn to be Warm & Cozy!  It’s that special feeling that makes winter such a wonderful time of year.

Can you just imagine…light shining in the window, the smell of coffee then rolling over and placing your feet on the floor? Justsheep feel the soft, warm wool carpet between your toes as you squish your feet around and grab your robe to lazily go towards the kitchen. Can you just picture your little one just learning to walk and oops…toppling over onto the lush, velvety wool plush in your living room? Wool carpet is the premier option for your flooring needs. It’s pure indulgence with peace of mind.

Healthy: Keep your family safe and sound with fire retardant, non-allergenic fibers that are naturally soil & moisture resistant, absorb contaminants and purify the air. Wow!

Wealthy: Excellent sound & thermal insulating factors cut your utility bills. Nice. With a 20-25 year lifespan, the resiliency of wool not only makes affordable but you end up saving in the long run.

Wise: Wool is socially conscious; not only biodegradable, recyclable, & rapidly renewable! Just makes good sense! (And no sheep are ever harmed in the making!)

Wool carpet has been around forever; no literally forever! The first wool carpets were made in 7000BC and we have not stopped using wool to adorn our floors ever since. Wool carpets have been produced in mass in America since 1791 with mills in Georgia. It’s a lifelong tradition that can’t be beat! It can be installed wall to wall, surged or bound with many different edge details and in many differing sizes.

It’s cold outside! You can’t beat the Benefits of Wool!

  • Naturally soil resistant and repellent
  • Absorbs contaminants and purifies the air
  • Naturally moisture resistant
  • Non-allergenic fiber Resistant to compression
  • Excellent thermal & sound insulator
  • Naturally flame retardant
  • More cost effective in the long-term; resilient, strong & durable fibers
  • Biodegradable, Recyclable, Rapidly Renewable resource
  • 20-25 yr. lifespan

Key components of the wool brands that we feature at Green Depot:

Most of the brands below have 5 – 50 style options available with multiple colors per style; all ranging in price depending upon style.

antrim-athenaANTRIM CARPET: Antrim is a line of undyed top quality wool. The undyed wool receives its color by the careful hand blending of different color wool fibers to give it the beautiful natural heathered colorways. Antrim Carpets does not use any chemicals or pesticides in any of their products. Their shipping containers are not fogged previous to shipping, and the very strict procedures they follow to insure the safety and cleanliness of their wool products does not make this a necessary step. The latex used in all of Antrim’s products is a natural latex extracted from a species of the rubber tree. Area rugs that Antrim manufactures are finished on the back with a pure cotton backing, and the ends are finished with hand serging using the same wool that the face of the product is made with. On the broadloom rolls, there is a very small polypropylene scrim as the very last layer of the backing. These materials used in the products a make a floor covering that is 99% natural. $6.29 – 19.99/SF http://www.antrimcarpet.com/

CAVAN CARPETS: Their carpet can also be blended with wool & bamboo or can be made of microfiber depending upon the style. What’s more is that I have ascertained that they use Action Backing on their carpets which is a name for a woven polypropylene secondary backing; the secondary backing being the one you see on the bottom. $7.29 – 21.29/SF http://www.cavancarpets.com/products.html

EARTH WEAVE CARPET: Earth Weave starts by using only pure wool. No dyes (New Catskill – OrganoSoftColors product has organic dye), No pesticides, nor stain protections. The primary backing is also an industry first combination of hemp and cotton. They chose to use the hardy hemp fiber, due to its durability, strength, and mold and mildew resistance. The all-natural primary backing is specifically designed to be used in their biodegradable flooring and is exclusive to Earth Weave. The wool yarns are locked into place with a natural adhesive that is derived from the rubber tree. This adhesive is completely biodegradable and nontoxic as well. Then for the back of the carpet they use a jute secondary. No Mothproofing used. $6.79 – 12.29/SF http://www.earthweave.com/

NATURE’S CARPET: The Nature’s Carpet collection consists of fine carpet pile made entirely from wool, a renewable resource. The wool is cleaned in a dedicated cleansed scour, and none of the chemicals employed in the mothproofing of other wool products are present. As a result, the clean scoured wool is totally biodegradable and even recyclable at the end of its long life as a floorcovering. Spinning of the wool takes place in a plant which has been carefully allocated for handling only 100% natural source material. The chemical latex used in regular carpet, is replaced with a nontoxic latex made from a natural rubber tree. The natural qualities of this latex are evident in the softness and flexibility of the carpet. Finally, the dual backing of the carpet is manufactured from natural jute, a vegetation fiber product produced without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers. The low percentage of chemicals, at every stage of the carpet’s manufacture and composition, means there is little or no toxic off-gassing. $4.69 – 9.69/SF http://www.naturescarpet.com/

Luxury home living roomUNIQUE CARPETS LTD: Most Unique products are manufactured with 100% pure wool. Unique Wool Carpets use Permethrin as a moth resistant agent. It is not only environmentally-friendly, it is an exceptionally effective and safe. Accepted world-wide and endorsed by the World Health Organization, it is also used to control insects on a variety of crops such as hops, cotton, fruit and vegetables. Permethrin is widely used in greenhouses, market gardens, and vineyards and is applied in a variety of ways. In regular use as described above, it has shown to be completely non-toxic to humans and, if ingested, passes through the system quickly and completely with no residual effects. However, when used as a moth resistant agent, Permethrin is used in much smaller quantities since it is not intended to control insects but rather as an agent that limits the ability of eggs to hatch or larvae to feed. It will not kill adult insects that walk across the carpet. There have been no reported cases worldwide of health related issues in humans from exposure to Permethrin. *Softer Than Sisal Naturals is not treated. Natural rubber latex is not used by any producers of quality broadloom carpets for two reasons: First, it is not an effective adhesive so de-lamination and poor tuft-bind are constant problems. Second; and more importantly, are serious health concerns. Natural rubber latex has over 100 known allergy related proteins and allergy to natural latex is a very common problem. Synthetic Latex is a petroleum-based by-product and is very effective as an adhesive, thereby increasing replacement intervals. Further, it possesses none of the health risks associated with natural rubber latex. Polypropylene is used as a primary backing and sometimes as a secondary backing in carpet manufacture. It is also a petroleum-based by-product and is so safe that it is commonly used as air filters, bandages, and protective netting in hospitals. Used in lieu of polypropylene as a primary backing in products marketed as 100% natural is burlap, which, like many natural fibers, contains allergens and, in moist and damp locations, is prone to rot, mildew, and mold. Formaldehyde is not used at all in any phase of carpet manufacturing (but may be present in some other household products). Many materials used to furnish or decorate the inside of homes emit small amounts of volatile products. Volatile Organic Compound, or VOC, emissions from carpets are among the lowest: only a fraction of those emitted by other materials used in new construction and renovation. $2.79 –14.69/SF http://www.uniquecarpetsltd.com/

GODFREY HIRST WOOL CARPETS: Godfrey Hirst, one of the largest wool manufacturers in the world, leads the market in style, color, performance, and quality with an extensive range of carpets to choose from. The yarn used in Godfrey Hirst carpets is 100% New Zealand wool, widely considered to be the best carpet-wool in the world. The yarn is semi-worsted, carded and tightly spun for excellent performance and longevity. Godfrey Hirst carpets have been independently tested for VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and comply with Green Star criteria, thus minimizing the impact on indoor air quality. Godfrey Hirst has also independently tested for Green Label Plus compliance, and all products achieved emission levels for VOC far below the levels that Green Label Plus allows. Godfrey Hirst takes a proactive approach to environmental issues. $1.99 – 11.89/SF https://www.godfreyhirst.com/

DESIGN MATERIALS: Design Materials, Inc is a manufacturer of naturally made carpets and flooring. DMI (Design Materials International) exotic carpets are made from all-natural fibers: sheep and alpaca wool, mountain and sea grass, sisal, and coir from the coconut. Rugs are available in multiple sizes, styles, and textures, including wall-to-wall carpets and area rugs with customizable cloth bindings. Specially-designed Sisal cleaner and sealant available. DMI is known for their unique textures and durability. DMI carpets are made from rapidly renewable resources and environmentally friendly. $1.99 – 14.89/SF http://www.dmifloors.com/index_new.php

STANTON: The Natural Choice … Environmentally Friendly. Wool is the classic choice for floor covering material. Wool has been used for carpet making since ancient times and is still made to last with Stanton. Fine quality, all natural wool offers numerous advantages when used in flooring. It has been the standard in floorcovering for centuries and represents all the qualities that synthetic fibers try to only emulate. Stanton uses only the finest wools from around the world, which provide all the benefits that wool has to offer. When you are ready to make an investment in your home choose Stanton Wool Carpet. $1.99 – 9.29 http://www.stantoncarpet.com/

woolshire-paradise_southbeachWOOLSHIRE: Woolshire uses only the most superior raw materials, combined with the finest 100% New Zealand wool carpet fiber, to make all of their distinctive and highly fashionable carpets. All of Woolshire’s carpets exceed the rigorous test to qualify to carry the Wools of New Zealand prestigious brand label. Woolshire has latex and jute backing (soy backing upon request), and is certified as “Green Label Plus” for healthy indoor air quality by the Carpet and Rug Institute. 12 foot wide broadloom. $7.59 – 16.29/SF http://www.woolshire.com/

Take care of you and yours with luxurious wool carpeting.  Stay Warm & Cozy!

 

Wood is one of the “greenest” building  materials available to us today! It is a renewable resource that is strong, long-lasting and has a myriad of applications. Even better, while trees are growing they absorb carbon from the atmosphere and store it. At the end of the “first life” of a wood product,  it can often be recycled two, three or more times and, sometimes, even composted. Where wood becomes unsustainable is when it is harvested through destructive logging practices that contribute to habitat destruction, water pollution, displacement of indigenous peoples, and violence against forest workers and wildlife.

Q: How can we as consumers tell if we are supporting responsible forestry practices or not?
A: Through the FSC!

The international Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a non-governmental and non-profit organization that works to combat destructive practices by encouraging responsible forest management. FSC has offices in 145 countries, and 384 million acres of certified forest around the globe. The FSC Logo can be found on all kinds of different products from paper to decking – if you see the logo it means that the wood in that product is from an FSC certified supplier.

When a forest is FSC certified you can be sure that it is a forest that is managed for ecological health, sustainable harvest levels, and social responsibility. Ecological health includes protecting the wildlife, water, air and soil. Sustainable harvest levels are ensured by never cutting more than what will grow back.  Social responsibility is attended to  through rules surrounding indigenous rights, labor rights, and multiple benefits. Indeed, FSC has developed a set of 10 Principles and 57 Criteria that all FSC certified companies must follow. As a third party certifier, the organization carries out regular audits of certified companies’ practices to ensure that they maintain FSC standards.

Here’s a cool infographic that illustrates the important role that FSC plays in the global supply of wood for building materials (and other purposes):

Friday, September 28th, we celebrated International FSC Friday. Learn more about the FSC at www.fscus.org.

 

Deforestation is a major environmental issue – but not only in the tropical rainforests of the world.  Throughout North America, many forests have been degraded and permanently damaged from clear-cut harvesting techniques.  Clear-cutting has a variety of significant negative impacts on local ecosystems wherever it occurs: it leads to the loss of habitat for wildlife species; a loss of jobs and other economic activity once the forest is cleared; a greater possibility of invasive species and other unwanted flora establishing itself on the clearcut site; a decrease in property values; and a decrease in available outdoor recreation opportunities.

Clearcutting can also result in massive soil erosion.  A study conducted at the University of Oregon found that clear cut areas often suffer three times as much erosion due to slides than areas that were never clear cut; and when logging roads are included in these calculations, slide activity is five times greater relative to nearby forested areas. [Click here for the report].  Moreover, a study from Southern University Carbondale in Illinois found that even after 30 years of recovery of a clear cut oak forest, natural occurrence of native oak trees was dramatically reduced and the presence of other species was greatly increased.  Clear cutting didn’t only result in the loss of forest habitat and ecosystem in 1973, when that forest was first harvested – the clear cutting resulted in a permanent (and, arguably, unnatural) alteration to the area’s forest ecosystem. [Click here for the report].

Enter the Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities (HFHC) partnership located in Portland, Oregon.  HFHC is an innovative and collaborative project founded by Sustainable Northwest, an NGO dedicated to building partnerships that promote environmentally-sound economic development in Northwest American communities.

The HFHC Partnership is a network of people, organizations, and small businesses working together to accomplish a common vision: to build awareness of, and demand for, regionally and responsibly-produced wood products that are created in rural communities.  According to their website, the network not only raises that awareness, but “enhances rural capacity to produce and market goods that benefit both entrepreneurs and forest ecosystems.”  The idea is that through creating a sustainable wood economy, we can build a rural Northwestern economy that doesn’t rely on the destruction of forest ecosystems to give people a stable livelihood.

Sustainable Northwest not only supports the enlargement of this network, but also runs a for-profit subsidiary which promotes and distributes HFHC member products into the marketplace. Sustainable Northwest Wood connects small wood mills to green building markets to help promote not only sustainable forestry, but to promote green building and construction as well.  In this manner, HFHC also functions as a marketing service which helps promote healthy forests, and sustainable local economies.

And to back up their claims of sustainability, HFHC relies on the international standard of sustainable forest management: Forest Stewardship Council certification.  HFHC maintains a group certificate for FSC Chain of Custody, tracking wood products from the forest to the consumer.  According to the HFHC, 25 businesses participate in the group chain of custody.

GREEN DEPOT SOLUTIONS

Members of the Health Forests, Healthy Communities partnership have all of their wood products certified under FSC guidelines, and all of the lumber products that we carry at Green Depot are likewise FSC-approved.  Lumber products with a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) seal are sourced from forests that are managed responsibly and sustainably.  The FSC vets forest managers and lumber production companies to ensure that their methods are sustainable before going to market.  Certification criteria require that logging methods preserve biodiversity, reduce environmental impacts, maintain the rights of indigenous communities and forestry workers, include a long-term forest management plan, comply with laws and international treaties, and that logging practices do not destroy forests, protect the habitats of endangered wildlife, and that profits from commercial forest endeavors are shared equitably with forest communities.  The FSC is non-governmental, non-for-profit, and all lumber producers participate in the program voluntarily.

Green Depot carries FSC-Certified wood, and can provide Chain of Custody (CoC) documentation, ensuring total tracking of the supply chain from forest to mill to processor, distributor, or treater; and finally, to delivery at our warehouses or jobsite.

In particular, check out one of the HFHC products we carry: Butcher Block Countertops, or Madrona flooring!

For green building materials, like eco insulation, as well as many other green products for a sustainable lifestyle, visit http://www.greendepot.com.

credit: unep.org/wed

Mark your calendars for this Sunday, June 5 – because it’s World Environment Day!

According to the official website for the holiday, World Environment Day is a program of the United Nations Environment Program (the UNEP) created and designated as June 5 in 1973 by the UN General Assembly.  World Environment Day is similar to the American analogue, Earth Day, in that it serves as an annual reminder to keep the environment in mind, and allows civic groups to use the date as a to enhance political action around the environment.

The day has a special historical significance because it marks the first UN Conference on the Human Environment, which is one of the earliest major political events concerning environmentalism, and at the time served as a galvanizing event in the history of the movement.

This year to commemorate the holiday, I’ll be making great use of the beautiful out-of-doors as I travel to Assateague Island National Seashore for a camping and kayaking trip.  While on Earth Day many of us use the holiday as an event for political or community action – for staging rallies or events, or planting trees or doing roadside cleanup – I’m practicing my environmentalism in another way – by getting out into nature and appreciating the pure beauty of it.  And we at Green Depot hope you do, too!

For green building materials, like eco insulation, as well as many other green products for a sustainable lifestyle, visit http://www.greendepot.com.

credit: flickr user kristine paulus

People always seem to come together through agriculture.  This makes a lot of sense – the advent of agriculture many thousands of years ago gave rise to sedentary communities that were once nomadic and centered around hunting and gathering.  People congregate where there is a project – like farming – to be undertaken together, as a group.

Growing up on a farm, our small town was a tiny slice of rural culture where folks would assemble at the weekend farmers’ market, at the feed store or the agricultural co-op, or at the annual county agricultural fair.

That little slice of agricultural community is something that I’ve sorely missed in New York.  But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t congregating, on a smaller scale, all around the city!

A few months ago, I came across a charming, and moving, story in the New York Times: Chicken Vanishes, Heartbreak Ensues.”  You might have already read it, but it’s a really lovely story of how a community can form around agricultural practice – even if the people in that community didn’t know how much they were coming together while they were doing so!

In the neighborhood of Bed-Stuy, a family was keeping a family of chickens in the front yard of their home, facing the sidewalk.  Having chickens in the front yard caught the attention of the community’s residents, and the author talks to the ability of the chickens to bring folks together: “The admirers came in droves… In a neighborhood fraught with the tensions of gentrification, making people talk to one another, and talk about something other than themselves, is not an insignificant accomplishment. What I’m saying is that these chickens are important in ways that chickens aren’t usually important.  They are Bed-Stuy’s very own peace doves.”

The story goes on to talk about how their prize hen, Getrude, was stolen one night and the tremendous uproar this caused in the community – folks talked about where the chicken might have gone, offered help in finding the thief to the owners, left signs and banners of support on the fence of their property.  Eventually the chicken was returned by a very guilty young man who admitted to stealing the chicken in a drunken dare.  And, wonderfully, the return of the chicken caused a great positive reaction throughout the neighborhood.

Chickens, bringing people together like that, and in a place like New York City – who would have thought?

Chicken keeping in the city is a growing hobby.  The Huffington Post noted a growing trend of chicken keeping in NYC as far back as 2009.  Indeed, for the aspiring chicken-keeper, Just Food, our own local urban agriculture advocacy organization, runs the City Chicken Project.

courtesy justfood.org and the city chicken project

Funded entirely by member donations, the City Chicken Project offers several resources for city gardeners and farmers who raise chickens.  They publish the City Chicken Guide, run chicken workshops, and have a Just Food City Chicken Meetup in NYC which brings together chicken hobbyists from disparate backgrounds.

And what’s again remarkable about urban chickens are the organizations it brought together – Just Food, the Cornell Cooperative Extension, Added Value, and Heifer International.

Urban chickens get people excited!  It’s a strange animal to cause such allure, but it certainly adds a lot of vibrancy to city life.  And, considering the impacts that the industrial chicken and egg industries have on the environment, urban chickens certainly help improve our sustainability here in the city, as well.

For green building materials, like eco insulation, as well as many other green products for a sustainable lifestyle, visit http://www.greendepot.com.

 

Check the back of nearly any conventional cleaning product, and you are confronted with an entire paragraph of confusing words for unknown chemicals – sometimes, hundreds of them.  It would take a huge amount of research to know which of those chemicals could be harmful to you, your family, or the environment.

Using conventional cleaning products in small amounts, and in well-ventilated areas, likely won’t cause any harm to the individual.  However, when we clean our homes we typically use a whole range of products for specific purposes – glass cleaners, countertop cleaners, floor cleaners, shower cleaners… the list goes on.  The more chemicals we use in our homes, the more exposure we receive to them, and that can add up over time, week in and week out.

Many conventional cleaners contain volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.  We’ve written before about VOCs in paint.  VOCs are the source of the headache-inducing chemical smell that is produced when using a cleaner at home.  These chemical compounds are used to cheaply improve the performance of a product, but can have serious consequences for human health – they have been linked to neurological disorders and kidney failure in laboratory animals, just to name a few consequences.  VOCs linger in the residue of cleaning products, even when they’re not visible – they continued to be inhaled even after cleaning is finished.  As Grist reports, home air fresheners contain significant amounts of VOCs and have been linked to a 25% increase in headaches and 19% more occurrences of depression in homes where they are used, versus homes where they are not.

Even smaller amounts of cleaner can have detrimental effects on the environment.  Dishwashing detergents often contain phosphates, which soften water and are a cheap way to make dish detergents more effective.   But the environmental cost is substantial.  When phosphates enter the watershed they enrich the water with nutrients that algae feed on, producing huge “blooms” of algae that consume all oxygen in the surrounding water.  Water that is depleted of oxygen – or that is hypoxic – is uninhabitable by most marine life.  The consequence is huge “dead zones” where there is no sea life, apart from algal blooms.  One of the largest and most infamous dead zone is in the Gulf of Mexico, which is fed by nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from the Mississippi River.  While that dead zone is fed largely by agricultural runoff, home fertilizers – and home cleaners – also contribute.

this graphic, from the new york times, depicts the hypoxic zone in the gulf of mexico -- a phenomenon produced, in part, by the runoff of phosphates, often found in conventional cleaners

There are more environmental consequences than hypoxia: conventional cleaners use chemicals that can disrupt the endocrine systems of marine life; some chemicals can affect the alkalinity of water, harming marine organisms; and others contain chemical compounds such as DDBSA that are corrosive to metal and organic tissue, including human tissue.  If cleaning chemicals can produce these harmful effects on marine life, are they products that the consumer wants in their home – that not only release the chemicals into the home environment when they are use (and inhaled!), but linger and offgas for indeterminate amounts of time?

For the sake of personal health and the environment, then, it becomes imperative to use green cleaning products, and other green products that are free of the kinds of pollutants and toxins which poison our bodies and land.

Fortunately, numerous alternatives are available.  Some are more effective – both in terms of cleaning power and in healthfulness – than others.  Some, in particular, are pure greenwash – while they profess to be “all-natural,” they are indeed chemical and potentially dangerous.  There are no federal criteria to regulate products advertized as “all-natural” and packaging can therefore be terrifically misleading.  Some “all-natural” cleaners are made from petroleum-derived products – all-natural because petroleum is naturally-occurring.

So, we should choose green cleaners because they are kinder on our health, our homes, and our environment.  And we should ensure we choose green products that are legitimately green, and not just greenwash.  There are, fortunately, truly ecologically-sound alternatives available to the consumer.

These products, contrasted to their conventional counterparts, are plant-derived, rather than petroleum-derived; they are biodegradable, meaning they won’t linger in waterways and contribute to hypoxia; and they are effective, meaning the consumer does not have to sacrifice performance for health and environmental benefits.

Green Depot carries a huge catalogue of green products, and produces its own line of green cleaners (locally-produced in the New York City area).  They are even refillable at our station on the Bowery – meaning you won’t even have to recycle your old bottles.

photo credit to flickr user hypoxia&eutrophication.