With a potentially colder-than-normal winter around the corner, one of the most useful items you can purchase for your home is a warm, cozy rug. But don’t go for just any rug. Opt for fair trade rugs that are also non-toxic and eco-friendly. Getting too complicated? We have a handy list for you!
- What to Look for in Ethically Made Rugs
- Fair Trade Rugs for a Stylish Home
Rugs, just like all materials made from fibers, can be toxic. They can contain non-organic fibers, toxins from dyes, and remnants of flame retardants. What we want is to zero in on a rug that is made with organic and sustainable fibers, that are non-toxic, and that are fair trade – i.e. where the workers who made the item are paid fairly for their work. Going for fair trade rugs is generally a safe enough indicator of non-toxicity, but in any case, check out these brands that create beautiful, safe, ethically made rugs for your home. To display on your eco-friendly floor!
What to Look for in Ethically Made Rugs
1 / Materials: natural fibers, recycled fibers and deadstock
These are your best bets among natural fibers: jute, cotton, bamboo, hemp, wool. If it’s certified organic, then that’s perfect. Don’t buy a rug that’s made from synthetic fibers, since they contain chemicals that are harmful to your health and the environment. Rugs made from recycled materials and deadstock are just as lovely, and also minimize waste from ending up at the landfill.
2 / Colors: non-toxic dyes & finishing
Look for rugs made from natural, non-toxic dyes. Synthetic dyes and finishes can be toxic for us, our pets and for the environment. Special finishings are done to make rugs stain-resistant. But the PFAS toxins found in chemical flame retardants and stain-resistant finishes are harmful, so give them a wide berth.
3 / Labor: Fair trade & Ethical
Try to check that the brand is following fair trade labor practices. Look for certifications such as Fair Trade USA, Fair Trade International, etc. Another tip is to buy from local artisans, who can vouch for where their materials have come from and how they have been treated.
4 / Transparency
Being open about their supply chains is a key characteristic of an ethical brand. Transparency about sourcing, manufacturing, production, etc. is a very reassuring move for a conscious brand to make. This includes their effects on the local communities and environment. Look for B-Corp brands that have satisfied the strict social and environmental criteria of the certification program.
5 / Sturdiness
We want high quality items that will last years and years of wear and tear. Rugs, especially, need to be durable since they have to bear the brunt of dirt, spillage, etc. Quality of the product must be completely non-negotiable. This will increase the price, but buying a beautiful, quality rug that is expensive but will last you 20 years and more, is worth it.
Fair Trade Rugs for a Stylish Home
You may not be in the market for a rug right now. In which case, do not get tempted into buying one. But if you are looking for a new rug for your bedroom, then these brands offer gorgeous fair trade rugs. They are all handmade, using sustainably sourced non-toxic materials and traditional weaving techniques.
And once you pick the right piece, make sure you clean and care for your rug properly.
1 // 54kibo
Price: From $198 for 3’ x 5’
54kibo offers custom-made as well as ready-made rugs that are created in the weaving traditions of Ghana, South Africa, Egypt and other countries in Africa. Bold, vivid, and expressive, these rugs can work as a powerful statement piece in your space.
2 // Bolé Road Textiles
Price: From $155 for 2’ x 3’
Bolé Road Textiles partners with weaving collectives and small businesses in Ethiopia, to bring their traditional craftsmanship to the world. The bright colors on neutral backgrounds in geometric patterns are lovely to look at.
3 // Burrow
Price: From $195 for 3’ x 5’
Burrow uses natural and recycled materials to create their soothing, gorgeous rugs. They work with artisans in India who use their traditional weaving techniques to make the rugs. The materials are ethically sourced by Burrow.
4 // CICIL
Price: From $169 for 2’ x 2 ½’
CICIL ethically sources its minimally processed wool from family farms in New York, Vermont, and Pennsylvania. They only make their rugs to order via low-impact manufacturing, to avoid inventory waste. They are transparent about the sourcing and processing of the wool.
5 // Cold Picnic
Price: From $150 for 2’ x 3’
Cold Picnic’s rugs are inspired by “imagined and misremembered landscapes, and the effects of time and the elements upon their surfaces.” The result is beautiful abstract-patterned rugs in a range of colors. Cold Picnic uses recycled materials, deadstock, and natural materials, with eco-friendly dyes.
6 // Kiliim
Price: From $143 for 0.7 x 1.5 meter
Kiliim rugs are traditionally made in Egypt by kiliim artisans. This brand extends that further, and collaborates with kiliim artisans to help preserve the kiliim tradition and to ensure sustainable production of the rugs.
7 // Leah Singh
Price: From $220 for 2’x3′
Leah Singh designs the rugs – in soothing, earthy colors and geometric patterns – and they are handmade by artisans in India using traditional embroidery, weaving, and printing techniques.
8 // Loom & Field
Price: From $740 for 3.8’ x 7’
Loom & Field works in collaboration with weavers in Morocco, who use traditional techniques and looms to weave the rugs in small batches. The rugs are expensive, but look stunning!
9 // Loomy
Price: From $598 for 2.5’ x 7’
Loomy’s website states that “94% of commercial rugs are made from harmful plastics that you don’t want in your home.” They’re right. Their handmade rugs are made to order by certified artisan weavers. The artisans use biodegradable materials such as jute, wool, hemp, and recycled fibers.
10 // Lorena Canals
Price: From $95 for 2’ 4” x 3’ 3”
Lorena Canals’ washable area rugs are handmade by artisans in India, using only recycled and natural fibers, and nontoxic dyes. They have great options especially for kids!
11 // MINNA
Price: From $275 for 2’ x 3’
MINNA is a certified B Corp company and partners with artisans in Central and South America for their home goods. MINNA’s artisan partners use traditional weaving techniques, and natural textiles and textile waste to make the rugs. The striking rugs are hand-woven in Guatemala, Peru, and Mexico, and are designed for display on the floor or or your walls.
12 // Obakki
Price: From $350 CAD for 2’ x 3’
Obakki’s rugs are handwoven by artisans, and either left un-dyed, or are dyed with non-toxic pigments. One unique material used in some of Obakki’s rugs is 100% mohair fiber, which is naturally soft, stain resistant, and non-flammable. It comes from the fleece of the Angora goat.
13 // Organic Weave
Price: From $1,499
Organic Weave is the only rug company in the world dedicated to GOTS-certified organic rug manufacturing. Their rugs are ethically made by skilled artisans in India, using traditional weaving methods. Organic Weave rugs are certified free of illegal child labor by GoodWeave.
14 // Parachute
Price: From $89 for 2’ x 3’
Parachute’s rugs are made from OEKO-TEX certified cotton, jute, and wool, and free from harmful chemicals and synthetics. The beautiful rugs are handmade in India by traditional artisans, in partnership with an 80-year-old heritage textiles factory.
15 // Ruggable
Price: From $89 for 2’ x 3’
Ruggable offers made-to-order, machine-washable rugs in lovely colors and patterns. Ruggable’s patented Rug System comes in two pieces: a lightweight Rug Cover (stain-resistant, water-resistant) and a non-slip Rug Pad (easy-to-clean, latex-free material). The easy washability (is that a word?) of the rug means it’s ideal for homes with messy pets and kids. They use recycled materials when possible.
16 // The Citizenry
Price: From $145 for 2’ x 3’
The Citizenry features ethical, non-toxic rugs that are handcrafted by artisans worldwide. The info next to the product also details the sourcing of the materials, weaving style, and the traditions followed by the particular artisans. The amount of time taken to weave the rugs is insane!
17 // The Ninevites
Price: From $490 for 90cm x 120cm
The Ninevites is a design studio and collaborative platform where the story “of Black culture and unheard voices” is told, while celebrating “age-old traditions in a modern context.” The gorgeous rugs handcrafted by female artisans in the Western Cape (South Africa) and Lima (Peru), using 100% natural fabrics. These women handspin and dye the raw fiber using traditional techniques. The rugs are made to order.
18 // West Elm
Price: From $35 for 2′ x 3′
West Elm is perfect for non-toxic rugs made from natural fiber such as jute, hemp, and seagrass. The best part of shopping for rugs at West Elm is the sheer variety on offer. Check out their durable and handcrafted rugs by style, or material, or room – there’s a lot to check out!
19 // Zuahaza
Price: From $198 for 2’ x 3’
Zuahaza’s artisan-made rugs are designed and made in Colombia. These rugs are made from fique, a sustainably sourced, hemp-like fiber that requires little water to grow. The rugs are stunning and come in mesmerizing patterns.
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