Sustainable roundups: 10 rugs for people and the planet

in Sustainable Roundups

The rug and carpet industry has historically been far from sustainable standards, for both ethical and environmental aspects. But things are changing!

In this episode of Sustainable Roundups, we’re discovering 10 rugs that respect both their makers and the environment – all sourced from SforSustainable (opened in a new window/tab), the sustainable interior design directory I curate.

Natural Materials

Natural fibres for rugs commonly include wool, silk, cotton, linen, sisal, coir, seagrass, hemp, and jute. Each material has its own characteristics that determine the preferred use of the final product. For example, sisal and coir are coarser fibres, ideal for high traffic areas.

But natural materials also include less conventional options such as PineSkins, a vegan leather-like material made with the inner bark of pine trees (a by-product of tree-cutting).

Product selection:

Close-up of wool fibre and a tool to manually pamper it.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Jurande (opened in a new window/tab)
Cotton rug with closed eyes embroidery.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Bildhübsch (opened in a new window/tab)
Entryway with a long and skinny sisal&jute rug.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: IKEA (opened in a new window/tab)
Close-up of rug made with inner bark.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Studio Sarmite (opened in a new window/tab)

Upcycled fibres

Stepping away from virgin materials while giving new lives to previously used inputs is a valuable sustainable option that contributes to a circular economy model.

Reusing the same materials more than once reduces the exploitation of natural sources, saves on some manufacturing costs, and reduces waste. Oftentimes, recycled yarns come from production offcuts generated by the company itself, clearly proving that waste is really just a design flaw.

Product selection:

Recycled yarn rugs on the floor.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Kasthall (opened in a new window/tab)
Rugs hung on the wall.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: cc-tapis (opened in a new window/tab)
Close-up of rug made with recycled cotton and cork.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Sugo (opened in a new window/tab)

Outdoor rugs

To be suitable for outdoor use, rugs need to be water-resistant and not be prone to moulding. Plastic-based fibres are ideal to serve this function but, to be named sustainable, they cannot rely on virgin plastic.
Discarded PET bottles are usually the starting point here. In a fascinating process, plastic bottles are spun into yarn; a transformation that turns a single-use (trashed) good into a durable product that will last years.

Product selection:

Close-up of recycled PET bottled rug.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Loomy (opened in a new window/tab)
Recycled plastic rugs under a marble coffee table.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Claire Gaudion (opened in a new window/tab)
Recycled PET rugs styled in a rustic showroom.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Liv (opened in a new window/tab)

Socio-ethical considerations

Handmade production is usually a sign of high quality and rugs are no exception.
In the case of rugs, production often happens in places where hand-weaving is a traditional craft, which is a great way of reviving and supporting these precious skills.

However, these are often also areas of the world where work regulations are not particularly strict, so it’s important to look for serious commitments in terms of work conditions, appropriate wages, and child/forced labour bans.

Rug making can also become a driver for wider change. Some rug companies support weavers’ communities on a broader level, funding projects that provide public schooling, health services and other local facilities. All services that can dramatically improve collective living conditions in low-income areas!

Roundup

Click on individual names for a detailed explanation of what makes each rug a sustainable choice

Moodboard showcasing 10 sustainable rugs.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>

1.Marmoucha - by Jurande (opened in a new window/tab)
2.Catarina Carreiras - by GUR (opened in a new window/tab)
3.Arizona - by Sugo (opened in a new window/tab)
4.Blue my Mind - by Loomy (opened in a new window/tab)
5.VISTOFT - by Ikea (opened in a new window/tab)
6.Tibba - by Claire Gaudion (opened in a new window/tab)
7.Flourish - by Kasthall (opened in a new window/tab)
8.Fordite - by cc-tapis (opened in a new window/tab)
9.Pineskins Mat - by Studio Sarmite (opened in a new window/tab)
10.Mandala - by Liv (opened in a new window/tab)

 
 
Choosing a sustainable rug is – as usual – a mix of environmental and social considerations. And as usual, transparency plays a key role in empowering informed and conscious choices!

For more sustainable interior products, feel free to browse through SforSustainable (opened in a new window/tab), where all items come with a detailed explanation of why they can be considered a more sustainable choice!

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