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Use natural linoleum instead of vinyl

Linoleum is a resilient flooring product made of linseed oil, pine rosin, sawdust, cork dust, limestone, natural pigments, and jute (backing).

Application: It may come as a surprise to many, but linoleum is a natural product, made from materials that are rapidly renewable and commonly available. Its embodied energy is low because it is minimally processed during construction; linoleum is even biodegradable. For these reasons, linoleum is environmentally responsible, especially in contrast to vinyl flooring, with which it is often confused. Linoleum also is resource-efficient because it is durable and requires little maintenance. Unfortunately, linoleum off-gasses VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that can compromise indoor air quality. While the volume of VOCs is not as great as with vinyl and does taper off over time, these still are a worry.

Benefits: Linoleum can be more durable and easier to dispose of because it comprises biodegradable content. It also has fewer emissions compared to vinyl.

Challenges: Linoleum can cost more than medium-grade vinyl flooring products. When applying a resilient floor, use low-VOC adhesive.

Information provided by Earth Advantage, an Oregon-based nonprofit organization that specializes in green building. Info: www.earthadvantage.com