Sustainable Rugs – The Comprehensive Guide

Saturday 10th Apr 2021 |

I know we are in April now, but a lot of people are still carrying on with home improvements they set out and wanted to make at the start of the year. We know how it is. People start new jobs; they have family commitments and the general hassle and business of a new year means that home-based projects are often placed on the back burner.

Now though, we have settled into the new year and 2021 is in full swing. This means people often have more time now to begin their home improvements. One of the main areas people wish to improve is their home’s look and feel, but not everyone has the funds available (or the desire) to make significant alterations.

Thankfully, the everyday buyer is becoming more and more aware of the importance of home sustainability and the associated climate implications. With that in mind, I will take you through some of the best sustainable rugs to buy, where to look for these rugs, and which rugs you should choose for your current style. So, without delay, let’s get into it.

Sustainable Rugs

Why Invest in Sustainable Rugs?

Many inexpensive rugs nowadays are made with synthetic materials that may off-gas harmful VOCs into your home. Unfortunately, most of these will need to be disposed of in landfills at the end of their life. If you are looking for a way to reduce the production of additional synthetic materials, reduce waste and improve the indoor air quality in your home, then look no further than a rug made with natural fibres.

What Makes a Rug Sustainable?

There are a wide array of things that make a rug sustainable, with far-reaching benefits for your everyday life. So, let’s not waste any time and get straight into them.

What Are the Health Benefits of Natural Rugs?

Sustainable rugs made from natural fibres carry health benefits that can make them appealing to customers with health issues or concerns. Even customers with no health issues would still be interested in these benefits. Natural fibre rugs are not treated with harmful chemicals. One concern related to synthetic fibre rugs is that they may emit gasses that are potentially hazardous to health. For peace of mind, then a natural fibre rug is the way to go. They are made with none of these chemicals and will not emit anything other than an aroma of calm into your home.

What Are the Planetary Benefits of Natural Rugs?

When considering a sustainable rug for your home, you will be interested in knowing that a rug made of natural fibres gives you a wide array of environmental benefits. Since these are made from natural materials, they are biodegradable, so they create less waste. In addition, the plant materials used to create beautiful, sustainable rugs are easily renewable, so they can be harvested again and again without causing damage to the environment that comes with synthetic rug production. 

What Are the Best Natural Fibre Rug Materials?

There are a wide array od natural materials available for people looking to purchase a sustainable rug. Are you a fan of softer materials to create a cosier feel for your home? Or, are you looking to develop a more hard-wearing look to be placed in your kitchen? No matter the goal, there is a material to suit you. Wool, hemp, bamboo, sisal and jute are the most popular options. We will explore each one in detail below.

Wool

One of the best natural materials and one of the bestselling is wool. This material is popular because it is both inexpensive to make, which makes it affordable to buy, and gives you a beautiful product. If you are looking for the perfect rug to improve your living room’s cosiness, bedroom, home office, then wool is the way to go! There is a reason wool rugs were one of the most popular rugs to buy before the rise of synthetic materials. And as the old adage goes, the originals are always the best.

Sustainable Rugs

Hemp

Another popular choice for people when they are looking to add a sustainable rug to their décor is hemp. Hemp is an excellent material since it is mildew resistant, making it an ideal choice for either inside or outside. Whichever you decide, it is sure to work a treat. Hemp rugs are also a great choice because they ‘wear-in’ rather than ‘wear-out.’ Multiple sources suggest that hemp fibres often soften over time and become stronger with wear. Great as a durable rug that will not need a replacement for many years to come. Hemp also has anti-bacterial properties, making it a great choice, especially with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has shocked the world.

Bamboo

One of the newer materials coming onto the rug market in recent history, bamboo is becoming a popular choice for homeowners. Bamboo rugs can simulate the look of hardwood. But bamboo is fast-growing, and so, if sourced ethically, it can reduce the felling of trees for a hardwood floor that would take decades to grow back naturally. It allows homeowners to give their home the effect of hardwood flooring without the needless environmental impact. Bamboo rugs can also be spot cleaned with a damp cloth, making them easy for homeowners to maintain.

Sisal

Natural sisal rugs stem from fibres extracted from the leaves of the agave plant, which is a form of cactus. Apart from the benefits of sisal rugs being 100% renewable and biodegradable, many benefits make them appeal to the regular customer and the environmentally conscious one. They are incredibly durable, making them perfect for placement in high traffic locations such as the entrance hall or kitchen. They have the added benefit of providing natural sound insulation, which is a bonus.

Sustainable Rugs

Jute

Jute fibres are natural, soft and durable, making them great for a wide array of uses. They make an excellent option if you are looking for a hard-wearing rug for your kitchen, living room or other high footfall areas. Even if you are looking for an outdoor rug, jute is an appropriate option to add texture instantly. Just be mindful that it doesn’t do well in humid climates. There are many benefits of jute rugs, with the main ones being they are straightforward to clean. They require just a short vacuum clean in most cases, making it ideal for the busy homeowner! As mentioned above, they are also incredibly durable, so they are perfect for high footfall areas. They will last a long time even if they are being stepped on multiple times a day.

Best Sustainable Rug Materials for Each Room

We get it. There are so many types of rug materials nowadays, but we are here to help. Below, we have compiled a list of the main areas where home rugs are typically placed and which natural material is best for each.

What Type of Rugs Are Best for The Living Room & Bedroom?

When choosing a rug for your living room or your bedroom, in most cases, you will be looking for a soft pile rug that makes the room feel warm and cosy.

As mentioned above, spaces where you usually go to relax should be warm and comfortable. So, the best rug material to be used in these rooms is wool! Wool rugs can come in a wide array of styles by themselves. You can have a short or a long pile, depending on which style you prefer and the traffic amount. If you will be walking on the rug a lot, then a short pile rug is better. However, if the rug is purely for decoration, then you can go for a longer pile. You can also consider hemp rugs here as they offer a great blend of comfort and durability. And as mentioned before, hemp rugs tend to get softer with time, which means their comfort level goes up the more they are used!

What Type of Rugs Are Best for The Kitchen & Dining Room?

When you are looking for a rug for often used areas such as your kitchen and dining room, where there will be feet and shoes on the rug regularly, hard-wearing options are crucial. This choice will ensure your rug looks cleaner, thanks to dirt not showing as readily. This choice will also save you money in the long term as it means you won’t need to replace the rug regularly.

You have a few choices here, depending on the style of your home. More ‘zen’ style homes make a bamboo rug the perfect option as it offers a sense of calm to almost any surrounding. Jute and sisal rugs can also provide the ideal blend of comfort and durability that people look for in a rug for their kitchen or dining room.

What Type of Rugs Are Best for Outdoor Use?

When looking for an outdoor rug, you are limited in terms of your options. You need a hard-wearing rug, easy to clean and, most importantly, mildew resistant! Providing you don’t live in a high humidity area; jute rugs are a great option as they are easy to clean and highly durable. Hemp is another excellent option for your outdoor rugs. It is mildew resistant and offers a great blend of comfort and durability. Hemp rugs are better for decorative areas when placed outside. In contrast, jute rugs are better for high traffic areas as they are naturally harder wearing.

What to look For

When you are looking for a sustainable rug for your home, there are many options. You have a choice between specialist online rug retailers such as Land of Rugs. These are ideal if you are looking for a more cost-effective alternative as online only companies operate at a much lower overhead, meaning cheaper prices to the customer! However, there are also great shops that offer a wide array of rugs that you can go physically into the store. Asda is a great option for this.

For the buyers out there, that are extremely environmentally conscious, there are also some trust markers you can look for which are explained in a little more detail below.

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

The Global Organic Textile Standard, or GOTS for short, was developed by leading standard setters to define world-wide recognised requirements for organic textiles. This comprehensive set of standards includes processes used in rug production such as harvesting the raw materials, ensuring your manufacturing process is socially and environmentally responsible, and even covers your labelling! Textiles that are certified to GOTS provide a credible assurance to the customer that the rug they are buying has been ethically sourced and manufactured.

GREENGUARD Gold Certification:

As we have explained a little previously in the article, the majority of everyday chemical exposure in people occurs through the air they breathe in their homes, offices, schools and other indoor environments. The GREENGUARD Gold standard is a certification that places a limit on the VOC emissions in textiles, so you can be assured the products you are buying are safe for your home.

Green Label Plus from The Carpet and Rug Institute

Today, indoor air quality (or IAQ) is an important environmental consideration when buying a rug or any other textile for your home. We spend approximately 90% of our time indoors, so we need to ensure the air we are breathing is of a good quality. The Green Label initiative was launched by The Carpet and Rug Institute in 1992 to test carpet, cushions, rugs and other textiles and adhesives to help specifiers identify products with very low emissions of VOCs. The Green Label Plus initiative was launched in the 2000s to include an even higher set of standards with regards for the IAQ of textiles.

So, there you have it. A high-quality guide giving you all the information you need to know before purchasing a new rug for your home. Of course, synthetic rugs will be around for years to come due to their competitive price and large-scale production. But natural fibre rugs are making a big push, and they will continue to do so. Do your bit now and invest in a high-quality, durable natural rug for your home.

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