I wanted to fix up my house last year. I wanted to do it cheaply and I wanted to use high-quality products from renewable resources.
I could find very few materials that matched my criteria. So I either went without ("Bob! I am sick and tired of having a bedroom floor that consists of painter's dropcloths!"), improvised ("Lookit this, honey! I made an electrical receptacle from a coat hanger!") found it free on craigslist and paid the price later ("Yep, the refrigerator costs $100 each month in electricity, but at least it was free!"), or paid the price up front ("Bob, I bought the most expensive paint I could find. It's so non-toxic we could eat it for the minerals. And I'm taking the cost of it out of my rent payment. I'm sure that's okay with you. And I want you to help me paint my room. It's your house, after all.")
My newest housemates made it abundantly clear that I absolutely had to have their daughter's room carpeted before they moved in. We'd already messed up getting their bedroom carpeted (now they are living over the painter's dropcloths, darn it). And we'd made the mistake of showing their daughter the room when it was full of Caitlan's abandoned "I'm off to school now!" crap.
"Honey, this will be your room. Look at the nice pink swirls on the walls!" The little girl looked instead upon the dumpster-like effluvia filling the room and burst into tears.
Supremely motivated, and using typical male "I can fix this by building something" energy, I sped to Home Depot. The trip was fruitful in terms of realizing how much I didn't want to buy carpet there.
I went to Dick's Carpet One on Ashby, hoping to find a remnant at least 13x13 to lay down. I found a medium quality wool carpet with a jute backing, in bright magenta. It's a perfect match for the room's swirly accents. And it's from entirely renewable resources. And it's a leftover piece, and it's new!
After I bought it, I looked around the store a little. Linda Di Bona helped me.
"We're now getting green flooring product remnants," she said, showing me some natural linoleum flooring. "And I'm actively looking for FSC wood flooring." She told me about some vendors who are saying they are all green and certified, but they "don't quite have the labeling."
I'm looking at those rolls of flooring, and realizing that they are about 1/2 price, and that even though they are smaller than the room, it's relatively easy to make designs and patterns with them. I just might get to fulfill all my dreams of renovating my house with safe, non-toxic, earth-friendly products!