AT on... Astroturf, or A Green Drama

AT on... Astroturf, or A Green Drama

Jonathan B.
Aug 28, 2007

Our friend is in the final throes of a big construction project. We think her experience last weekend is a good example of what it takes -- and how it feels -- to try to go green.

The story begins with the friendly, responsible contractor suggesting that the roofing on the roof deck would last longer if it were protected by something like astroturf.

Our friend hops on her computer and discovers FLOR's version of Astroturf, which is called Green Acres. There's just one problem: like we said, she's in the final throes of the project, and she's out of money. $10 a tile does seem pretty steep for Astroturf.

So the contractor again comes to the rescue and suggests our friend go back to the local flooring dealer where she got carpet for the stairs made of recycled soda bottles. Our friend drives across town, finds carpet she likes, orders the samples herself -- which leads us to wonder what, exactly, salespeople do these days -- and finds something she likes.

And then she discovers the price she's been quoted, $4, is per square foot, not per square yard. At that price, she realizes the FLOR tiles are actually less expensive.

So defeated, our heroine sets off for Home Depot.

There, she finds an array of "indoor-outdoor" carpet for prices that are significantly less. In the mood to get it done, she buys the carpet on the spot, even though she's a bit confused by the salesman, who points to another style and says "well, this one's the only one that's really outdoor-outdoor."

The reason for that becomes all too clear when our exhausted friend returns with the heavy roll of carpet hanging out of the back of the car. The contractor takes one look at the backing and says, "oh, this has jute in it. That will rot out."

We asked if she was aware that FLOR would take the tiles back at the end of their life for recycling, and she was not. It seems to us that's a big selling point, and a good reason for a higher price. We think FLOR should try harder to communicate this point, even if it's not so glamorous; it's buried on their website and not front-and-center.

Will Home Depot take the carpet back? No, because cut goods can not be returned, and the carpet was marked indoor-outdoor. So this leaves our friend in a bit of a green quandary. If she installs the carpet, it will likely have to be removed and replaced in a few years. She can't return it, so donating it would be another option. What would you do if you were her?

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