In the kitchen (and the bathroom for that matter), you want a sturdy floor that can hold up to significant wear and tear, including foot traffic and food spills. Although vinyl is affordable, easy to clean, durable and quite popular, it is not biodegradable, and its manufacture creates toxins. It also can offgas harmful chemicals. Environmentally conscious flooring choices include:
Linoleum is not the same thing as vinyl, though both are installed as sheets. Vinyl is made from synthetic materials while linoleum is made from natural materials: felt, burlap or canvas coated with linseed oil, cork or wood dust and resins.
Bamboo, a grass that looks like wood flooring and grows rapidly, becomes large enough to harvest in three to six years. Its rapid growth inherently makes it a much sustainable product than most hardwood species. It can be installed the same way as hardwood flooring and is similarly dent resistant.
Cons: No third-party organization monitors environmental regulations and worker safety. The resins used to laminate it often contain urea formaldehyde that can offgas in heat or humidity.
Photo Courtesy of Ann Sacks