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Rugs Made With the Earth in Mind

April 22, 2010 5 min read

Today, Earth Day turns the big 4-0! It seems that awareness about the impact we have on our environment is now at an all-time high. And one could argue that it’s at the very least in part due to the campaign’s presence over the years. We see this increased awareness first-hand at Rug & Home, as the majority of the rug manufacturers we work with are taking the “greening” of their company and products very seriously—in some cases, even taking green to the extreme! While we’re certain we could point out 40 eco-attributes about the companies we work with and products we carry in honor of Earth Day’s major birthday milestone, we realize that would be a pretty long post. So, we’ll share just 4 overarching ways in which these items and companies are eco-friendly and link you to their websites so you can read more about their efforts

The Use of Natural & Sustainable Fibers

We carry a wide selection of rugs created exclusively from natural and eco-friendly fibers. Many of our rugs are 100% wool, a carpet fiber that is naturally renewable, biodegradable, recyclable, and sustainable. And, many of our manufacturers and weavers use wool from New Zealand, a country that’s recognized for its farming standards and sustainable farming methods. According to the Wools of New Zealand website, “Sheep are grazed on a variety of different pasture types, including hillsides which are unsuitable for other farming systems, and which allow for effective soil management and natural free-range grazing. Efficient land management and flock rotation ensure that the land will continue to enhance high quality wool production for generations to come.” Wool is also a naturally non-allergenic and mold-resistant fiber, making it a great choice if you’re concerned with the quality of your indoor air—another element on the green living spectrum. For more information about New Zealand wool, CLICK HERE. We also stock rugs made from sisal and seagrass fibers, which, like wool, are renewable, biodegradable, and sustainable. Seagrass, although once thought to be an unusable fiber, can now be transformed by weavers into everything from rugs to bowls (see close-up photo of seagrass rug above). We carry items from the company Design Materials, which uses sisal grown on plantations in Tanzania, East Africa. Sisal fiber comes from the leaves of the agave plant. In the case of the plants used by Design Materials, the remaining elements are used to produce electricity for Tanzanians! To read more, CLICK HERE.


A Focus on IAQ & VOCs

We promise the above letters mean something! The Carpet and Rug Institute, a scientific research organization, has an eco-certification program that certifies rugs as either Green Label or Green Label Plus. These labels focus on indoor air quality (IAQ) and ensure that carpets, cushions, and adhesives have been tested and can be identified as products with very low emissions of VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds. VOCs are chemical compounds that not only pollute indoor air and can negatively affect human health but can negatively affect our environment as well. The Green Label Plus certification concludes that a product is one of the very lowest emitting on the market. A large portion of Nourison rugs are Green Label certified. For a list of Nourison’s collections that meet these standards, CLICK HERE. All Karastan brand carpets are certified Green Label Plus. You’ll find a wide selection of both Nourison and Karastan rugs in all of our stores.

Efficient Production

As a company, Karastan has made many changes over the past several years to increase their efficiency and lower their carbon footprint. For example, when told they couldn’t build another septic tank at their Sugar Valley, Georgia, facility, they installed an aerobic treatment unit that uses microbes to break down waste and constructed wetlands to filter wastewater. To learn more about Karastan’s green initiatives, including their recycling efforts as well as use of a polyester made from recycled plastic soda and water bottles, CLICK HERE. Flooring manufacturer Shaw has also developed unique eco-friendly production processes. In fact, they’ve developed a cradle-to-cradle process. Cradle-to-cradle describes a product has a continuous, un-ending life cycle. In other words, it can be reborn as its original self at infinitum—never winding up in the landfill. According to their website, Shaw believes “that cradle-to-cradle is the path to true sustainability.” Their nylon recycling operation in Augusta, Georgia, employs a patented technology that takes post-consumer nylon carpet, or carpet you’re no longer using, and recycles it back to its very original material: the building block for nylon fiber. Then, new carpets can be created! For more information on this initiative, including carpet collection sites as well as their other eco-approaches, CLICK HERE.

Social Accountability

Social accountability is another factor in the eco equation. Fair Trade is a social movement that focuses on the treatment of producers in developing countries and works to ensure ethical and sustainable working conditions.

The company Obeetee is a part of the fair trade movement and closely monitors their weavers’ workplace conditions. In 2004, they were awarded the Social Accountability System Certificate (SA 8000:2008), and they were re-certified in November 2007 for three years. The certificate holds them to standards regulating everything from child and forced labor to working hours and wages. You can learn more HERE. Social accountability is also an important issue for the Jaipur Rugs

Company. In 2004, they launched the Jaipur Rugs Foundation with the “primary objective of promoting sustainable livelihood opportunities for uplifting the underprivileged communities of rural artisans and weavers who, in reality, are the true heroes of the carpet industry’s success story.” The foundation helps link weavers with important government agencies and provides equal employment opportunities to weavers of all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. Their foundation also checks for any instance of child labor, another important issue to the company. To read more about their foundation and social initiatives, CLICK HERE. We want to take this opportunity to also share a little bit about our company’s social accountability efforts. Rug & Home partners with Mamta Samajik Sanstha, a nonprofit working to provide essential services to disadvantaged groups in India, specifically children in India’s rural villages. To learn more about their mission, CLICK HERE. We also partner with Project Dadawas, a “systematic and organized effort to find an effective, affordable, and replicable model for improving the quality of rural schooling to make the graduates of rural schooling competitive in the labor market, be it for jobs or for admission to institutions of higher learning.” CLICK HERE to read more about their initiatives. Phew! The post still turned out pretty long, huh? We told you there was lots of green stuff happening in our wonderful world of rugs! On our website, you can shop by brand to see the products of the rug manufacturers mentioned in bold here. And, we encourage you to stop by any one of our locations and ask a design associate to help you hunt for an eco-friendly find! For information about our sustainable furniture options, CLICK HERE.

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