A carbon footprint is the measurement of the force of human activities on the environment in terms of carbon dioxide (CO2). In other words, the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere as a result of transportation (i.e. car; train; plane), heating, electricity and other activities that requires the burning of fossil fuels.
If you're interested in determining your individual carbon footprint, you can use a life cycle assessment (LCA)* or carbon footprint calculator (you can find different versions online).
Knowing your carbon footprint and the carbon footprint of the products you purchase is essential to maintaining a greener lifestyle. So what do carbon footprints have to do with flooring? To an eco-conscious consumer - everything. CO2 is a by-product of machines used to source materials and the transport of the finished goods. If you want a greener floor, you'll want to choose something that has the smallest carbon footprint possible.
The manner in which the resources are harvested is also vital to a product's carbon footprint. Deforestation (the process of converting forests into non-forest land) contributes to global warming by eliminating trees that help convert carbon into oxygen. Thus, a number of hardwood floors are not considered to be very eco-friendly. When shopping for green hardwood flooring, look at floors that are marked with a seal from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). An FSC seal indicates that the wood used to make the flooring was harvested from a responsibly managed forest.
*LCA is the evaluation of a person's environmental impact as a result of their existence.