Dear Lazy Environmentalist,

Is any green flooring affordable?

What you choose to walk on can have a major eco-impact. These days, thanks to numerous innovations, it’s increasingly affordable to choose quality flooring options made from sustainable materials. Even traditional (naturally made) linoleum is being revitalized for 21st century living. Forbo’s Marmoleum Click linoleum tiles are easy for anyone to install; they just click together without need for nails or glue. Water resistant, durable, easy to clean and naturally beautiful, Marmoleum Click tiles are made with natural ingredients including linseed oil, pigments, cork flour, limestone, pine rosin and pine flour from managed European forests. The backing is made of natural jute. Eighteen different colors are available and can be mixed and matched. The price per square foot starts at around $4.

Rapidly renewable materials like bamboo are also versatile and eco-friendly. Smith & Fong, EcoTimber and Teragren are a few of the highly regarded companies working with this new take on hardwood floors. EcoTimber’s strand-woven bamboo flooring receives particularly high marks for its incredible strength and durability. Prices from these companies typically range between and $5 and $7 per square foot. While lower-priced bamboo flooring products are available, the companies mentioned here have developed strong reputations within the green building community for quality, durability, aesthetics and low toxicity. (These companies minimize the use of dangerous, formaldehyde-based glues during manufacturing.)

Budget-friendly cork flooring is yet another way to utilize a natural, rapidly renewable material, and some of the most affordable options available come from Texas-based Amcork. Made from the renewable bark of the cork oak tree and treated with zero-VOC finishes, AmCork’s flooring planks and tiles come in numerous colors and patterns and start at $2.50 per square foot. Whereas bamboo is extremely strong and sturdy, cork is naturally durable yet more forgiving and very soft underfoot. As an added perk, cork also functions as a headache-relieving sound barrier for multilevel homes.

Wood floors can get into the budget green act too. The best way to locate affordable reclaimed or sustainably harvested wood flooring is to visit local green building supply stores. They’re cropping up all over the country and often carry locally made products that are otherwise tough to locate. For example, Ecohausstores in Portland, Seattle, and Bellevue, Wash., carry Green River reclaimed hardwood flooring starting at $4.29 per square foot. In Asheville, N.C., Build It Naturally works with a local mill to offer stunning reclaimed wood flooring starting at $6 at per square foot.

* * *

Excerpted from Josh Dorfman's latest book, The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget.

Got a question? Submit a question to Mother Nature and one of our many experts will track down the answer. Plus: Visit our advice archives to see if your question has already been tackled.

Photo: The Pug Father/Flickr 

See also:

Installing ceramic tile