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EARTHWATCH

Old Soda Bottles Make Homes Comfortable : Being environmentally friendly can begin from the ground up--with your carpeting and decking.

March 16, 1995|RICHARD KAHLENBERG | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Earthwatch suggestion for an environmental excursion: Go to this weekend's Home and Garden Show in Ventura and look at the floor coverings.

Sounds like a thrilling idea, eh. Like watching grass grow, you say. But my point is that, when it comes to environmentalism, a good place to start doing things is from the ground up. From the floor up, in this case, with carpeting or decking made from recycled pop bottles.

The booth of Linoleum & Carpet City, the Camarillo outlet of the national floor covering franchise, has samples of carpeting made from recycled plastic. Ask to see them.

I'm not talking stuff that looks like it's been made simply by melting two-liter Pepsi containers, straining the result through a pasta machine and weaving it into throw rugs. I'm talking classy carpeting that looks just like any other kind of high-end product.

The plastic in the pop bottles we've been recycling in this county is tough stuff, very abrasion-resistant, wears 50% longer than nylon and is even used to make automobile seat belts. It also makes good carpeting for offices and schools and is highly stain-resistant because it's moisture-resistant. We're talking soda-bottle plastic--which can't be the least bit absorbent or it would leak.

If you're further interested in such a product, there's a big showroom full of samples not far over the county line at the Paul Singer Co. in Sherman Oaks. There's where I learned that a thousand cubic feet of pop bottles are diverted from the landfill every time we buy a hundred square feet of this carpeting.

Another application for recycled plastic is fabrication into lumber for decking. At the Terry Lumber Co. booth at the Home & Garden Show and at its regular locations in Ventura and Simi Valley, you can see examples of "Trex Wood-Polymer Lumber."

When used in decking, boardwalks, playground equipment or any other kind of high-traffic, weather-exposed flooring, this substance is a completely acceptable substitute for wood. It's termite-proof and doesn't warp. If you like battleship gray as a color, you don't even have to paint it--ever.

For those among us who are recycling fanatics, I suggest a pilgrimage all the way to West Los Angeles to see an eye-popping example of recycled plastic flooring. There, Rhino Records, a company that specializes in reissuing old favorites, is practicing environmental ultra-orthodoxy when it comes to recycling its industrial waste.

According to vice president Brian Schuman, the company found itself with a warehouse full of damaged, defective and returned goods. Rather than call in the dump trucks, Rhino phoned a neighbor, Syndesis Inc., which came over with hammers and some special concrete mix.

Syndesis produced a floor in which you can see revivals of revivals. If "Best of Foghat" didn't make much of an impression on you the first--or second--time around, you'll surely be impressed when you encounter the group's album at Rhino Records, underfoot.

Another kind of environmentally friendly flooring is sisal. It's from a renewable resource and is a 100% biodegradable plant product that can even be composted at the end of its life as carpeting or rugs.

Many local home shops and some booths at the fairgrounds show carry sisal mats and woven squares usable as tile substitutes. Selections of decorator-quality sisal floor treatments are on display at Barbara Brenner Interior Design in Calabasas and Pierre LaFond Interiors in Santa Barbara.

Details

* WHAT: Ventura County Home & Garden Show.

* WHEN: Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

* WHERE: Ventura County Fairgrounds, Seaside Park, Ventura.

* HOW MUCH: $5.

* CALL: 641-1126.

* FYI: To locate nearby retailers of quality carpeting made from recycled plastic beverage containers, call (800) 722-2504 or (800) 482-5466. For sisal floor-covering, call (800) 287-3144.

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