Salesmanship: It’s hard being green

Home Columns Salesmanship: It’s hard being green

by Warren Tyler

Every retailer should display green products. That’s a given. Consumers who ask for them won’t settle for anything less. I’m a cynic because whenever some government action is taken to protect the Earth it invariably backfires. Take HOV lanes, which supposedly motivates citizens to carpool in order to save emissions. In America it works this way: Americans won’t give up their cars, don’t relish the inconvenience of driving others and cherish moments of privacy like drive time. This is why high speed rail is doomed to fail. We are not sheep to be herded. Please leave us alone.

The HOV lanes are empty except for the scofflaws, while the rest of us are stuck idling in traffic confined to our lanes spewing three to five times more emissions than if we were allowed to use all lanes. One scientist offered that clouds are really the greatest pollutant, far greater than car- bon because they cut off hundreds of times more sunlight. Then some brain-dead expert invented the one-gallon-per-flush toilet, which, of course, requires four flushes to do the job.

Cork and bamboo are green products, and you should sample these products. If I were a consumer, I would think cork would be a comfortable floor, being extremely familiar with wine corks. However, somehow manufacturers make cork feel like VCT. But people will buy it if it is green, just as they will buy bamboo because it is green. These two products do have the additional attribute of being renewable.

Being from Vermont, I thought trees were renewable as well, having to cut them down regularly because they spoiled the view of the mountains from my veranda. The fact is that there are twice as many forested acres in America as there were in 1900 (sounds renewable to me).

The point of this screed is that this industry is working hard to provide green products. Our manufacturers are leading the way in the making of not only ecological products, but renewable ones. Not only are carpet manufacturers making a dent in the amount of soft drink bottles polluting the nation, but they can now make new fiber out of old.

But never let good deeds (like saving our planet) go unpunished. I just read an article stating California is going to require that warning labels be affixed to laminate (wood product cores) and wood flooring to state these products can cause cancer. Manufacturers, faced with being banned from selling their products in California, have stated they will probably affix the labels to laminates and wood no matter where they are shipped to save costs. How much will these labels affect sales? Like the flooring industry hasn’t been punished enough.

Then the other question in my mind is what about cork? Is bark wood? Will the greenest and most renewable of flooring products suffer the same fate as wood?

What about bamboo? Grass is related to wood. Will it qualify for the dreaded warning label?

Seventy percent of the homes in Vermont are heated by burning wood and arguably has the cleanest air in the nation. Eden, Vt., is a green town in the greenest state where asbestos, a natural fiber, is mined. In my day, I, like all installers, used to stand in rooms of asbestos dust while sanding floors to remove linoleum. Are we to believe that a little wood dust is as dangerous?

Warren Tyler has more than 40 years of retail flooring experience. He is one of the industry’s most sought after speakers, and his training materials are among the most requested. Call 804.384.7588 or email war

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