5 Tips to Make Your Home Safe, Green & Healthy from Zem Joaquin

by , 04/27/15

5 Tips to Green Your Home With Zem Joaquin, green home, green design, eco design, ecofabulous, eco-fabulous, sustainable design, green design, green interior design, green interiors

TIP 3 – Keep your floors healthy  for all with eco alternatives

If you are searching for healthy, eco-friendly flooring, then cork or wood are likely your best choices. They are easy to keep clean, don’t harbor mites and dust, don’t off gas and definitely beat out carpet in every department. The small fibers and deep crevices make carpet a sink hole that accumulate dust, mites and toxins over the years, and is really hard to keep clean. Most carpets are also made with unhealthy ingredients and treated with nasty chemicals that you don’t want JR crawling around on!

The best, most sustainable option for wood flooring is to simply make use of wood floors that were originally in a home (maybe even hidden under old carpeting – but always re-furbish with toxin-free finishes). Unfortunately, not all of us have this option. If you are planning to install new wood flooring, my first choice would be to use reclaimed woods from beams or fallen trees, or a rapidly renewable new material like bamboo. Bamboo may sound ‘green’, but don’t forget to closely examine the adhesives and finishes when working with bamboo – as a lot of cheap bamboo flooring on the market is not produced consciously. Three great brands to check out are Ecotimber, Teragren and Plyboo.

Zem's son on his cork floor, Zem's daughter on her cork floor, eco design, eco home, green home, green living, C2C design, cradle-to-cradle design, Harvesting cork in Portugal, eco-friendly flooring, eco floors, cork floors, cork tree, how cork is harvested, cork harvesting, green flooring, green floorsPhoto from Traditional Home Magazine spread: Zem’s son relaxes on his blue cork flooring in their Marin County home

When you are sourcing a new flooring material and are looking for something soft and sound-absorbing, my hands-down favorite flooring material is cork. Cork is an amazing rapidly-renewable material that is taken off the outside of cork oak trees without harming them, and it grows back in 6-9 years. It is soft, durable, hypoallergenic, and provides great insulation. It has all of the things that people like about carpeting (kid-friendly, soft under foot, sound-absorbing), without any of the environmental or health concerns. In addition to cork’s awesome eco & physical attributes, the material is community sustaining as well. Almost all of it comes from Portugal where the cork industry sustains entire villages. My two favorite companies for cork flooring are
CorkConcepts and Wicanders.

Harvesting cork in Portugal, eco-friendly flooring, eco floors, cork floors, cork tree, how cork is harvested, cork harvesting, green flooring, green floors

The best carpeting options are natural fiber rugs (like wool, organic cotton and silk) that can be picked up, vacuumed under and cleaned when needed. For some sustainable and super stylish rug options check out SHAW carpet for a good nontoxic carpet option, or Odegard for carpets you can roll out.

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  1. Jessie Garcia-Pacheco December 27, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Love the telephone bench – super cute look. Gonna go check out eBay for a treasure of my own :)

  2. Ving July 13, 2011 at 4:57 am

    Many many quality piotns there.

  3. jazz568 June 26, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    Great tips for a safe home. Wonder LED lights should be considered especially for children’s rooms. CFL is really dangerous if it’s broken inside a home. EPA’s clean-up procedure guide is really scary.

  4. bronwen June 14, 2011 at 3:58 am

    i would like to know about the window dressing (1st pic). what material did you use? and is that a print on there?

  5. Andreadistmtl May 16, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Thanks for the tips! very simple, accessible and thorough

  6. karenwil April 14, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    Thank you GREENGUARDEnvironmentalInstitute for reminding us that ‘no VOC’ or ‘low VOC’ are also low-emitting” Thanks for the tips on paint.
    Green washing is an increasing issue. There are some advise on Green and how to become LEED certified interior.

  7. GREENGUARDEnvironmental... April 14, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Great article! It’s so important for people to remember that what’s “green” isn’t always what’s healthy!

    One thing that’s REALLY important (since you mentioned VOCs in paints): not all paints labeled “no VOC” or “low VOC” are also low-emitting. The difference is VOC content vs. VOC emissions. Paint manufacturers can claim “no VOC” or “low VOC” as long as their paints don’t react with sunlight to product ground-level ozone (an OUTDOOR, not indoor, environmental issue), so they may not have been assessed for their impact on human health in indoor spaces.

    That’s why it’s so important to look for a third-party certified paint–one that has been scientifically and independently evaluated for use indoors.

    The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute is a third-party organization that certifies products (including paints, yes) to ensure that they’re low-emitting, healthier options for indoor use. There’s a bunch of information about VOCs, how products off-gas chemicals into the indoor air, and simple steps you can take to improve your indoor air quality at http://www.greenguard.org. We encourage you to check it out!

  8. taraprieto April 13, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Great ideas…I wish more people knew how easy it is to implement some of these ideas.

  9. karenwil March 22, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Responding to Knortho’s comment about common sense and green rally. In the IDEAL situation we would always have local renewable materials used for all projects and one day we likely will have too once the resources for depleted.

  10. knortho@yahoo.com March 18, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Isn’t green rally about common sense? And would it not be better to have a local company tht rebuilds old windows or builds them locally support your blog instead of Marvin?

  11. herman miller santa rosa March 15, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Smart, healthy and stylish green living can be created in so many ways.
    Trope group have sensible options for helping create workplace business solutions.

    Sofia you can researcher on the web who is local vendor in your area that sells cork flooring.

  12. sofia i March 14, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Love the article!! I live in Mexico and ecofriendly products are really hard to find. Do you know where I could find cork flooring in Mexico?


  13. icare_dou March 12, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Indoor air quality is always worse than outdoor air quality. Consequently, the best first step to improving the indoor air quality is simply opening the window.

    There have been significant advances in the past several years, so consumers can now actually test and measure the many pollutants in their own home’s indoor air at affordable prices. For example the Sierra Club used passive formaldehyde badges to discover the FEMA trailers. These are extremely easy to use and at $39 affordable for most. Considering California Air Resource Board found that 98% of the homes they tested exceeded the maximum formaldehyde concentration, the question is how bad is your home’s air. These are available on the Internet with one site being ACSbadges.com/formaldehyde.shtml

  14. Zem Joaquin March 10, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    Yuka, clothing is absolutely the same story. There are many brands of gear that are well intentioned but uninformed. Organic linen and cotton can be great but when you mix them with polyester (recycled or virgin), you make the entire product unusable in the future – meaning they will end up in a grave (AKA; landfill). Natural fibers can go back to the biological system (soil) if not combined and many synthetic or man-made fibers can be reinvented by recycling them if they are not mixed with natural fibers.

  15. Diane Pham March 10, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    gorgeous and green house! wonderful tips! can’t wait to try out the window treatments!

  16. Jessica Dailey March 10, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    I’ve been on the hunt for new window treatments, and now I know exactly what to look for… Thanks, Zem!

  17. Kestrel Jenkins March 10, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    I would love to live in Zem’s living room. Gorgeous.

  18. Yuka Yoneda March 10, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Hey Zem, does what you wrote about monstrous blends go for clothing too?

  19. Jill Fehrenbacher March 10, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Great tips Zem – I absolutely love the foot pedals idea and am going to try it in my own house as soon as I can!

    Love your use of cork flooring too – fabulous!

  20. Rebecca Paul March 10, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I love this article. These tips are really accessible and easy to understand.

  21. Jasmin Malik Chua March 10, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Love your kids’ rooms, Zem! What style!

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