Measuring the full lifestyle effect.
Manufacturers of synthetic carpet fiercely push their eco-credentials. Their websites are full of statements about how low their carbon footprint is and how their plastic tiles can be recycled. All very noble but somewhat ironic.
What about the customer experience of the product? How proud do people feel when they Facebook their friends to say. “Hey I just got a new plastic floor covering! Its’ made from real oil and it gives off wonderful static shocks. Apparently it will only take 400 years to biodegrade!”
Wool does so much more.
A wool carpet will last for years, far far longer than polyester.
It will feel soft underfoot and its ability to absorb moisture from the air reduces the risk of static shocks.
Wool absorbs toxins form the air and locks them away, actually purifying the indoor environment.
Wool is fire retardant whereas synthetic products melt and give off toxic fumes (they are made from oil)
Wool is anti-allergenic.
And of course wool is an amazing heat insulator; Homes with wool carpets will feel warmer and dryer and have lower heating costs.
Shouldn’t the experience of living with a product be considered as part of its sustainability profile? Shouldn’t a products environmental impact take into account the energy it saves for years after it is installed?
If a plastic tile claims a low carbon footprint, is it right to ignore the longer term failures of the product to do what wool can do for human comfort and energy conservation?
At the end of the day wool has been protecting sheep for thousands of years and has evolved to be a complex and highly technical fibre. As clever as the oil man thinks his plastic fibres are he is still falling a long way short of what nature has built into wool.