Practical yet decorative, a carefully chosen rug can add a finishing touch to a newly decorated room or breathe new life into an existing scheme. For instance, a colourful boldly patterned rug can instantly transform the monotony of a pale minimalist room into a stylish contemporary design. By contrast, a simple rug of undyed, natural material provides a welcome relief amidst an eclectic mix of colours and patterns. Although there is an incredible selection to choose from, more consumers than ever are realising the benefits of purchasing environmentally friendly rugs.

Ecological Wool

Purchasing rugs made from naturally sourced fibres is just one of the ways that can help reduce the carbon footprint. Striking effects can be achieved with natural materials that are either self-coloured or tinted with ecological vegetable dyes. One of the most traditional materials for rugs is wool. Warm and hard wearing, it can be woven into colourful, intricate patterns. Left undyed, wool has a range of subtle, muted shades of cream, grey and beige depending on the breed of sheep it comes from. Rugs made from natural wool can have deeply textured, sophisticated designs. Creating rugs of compressed wool felt, an alternative material dating back thousands of years, are hand made without a loom.

Natural Alternatives

Wool is often expensive, but there are many cheaper alternatives that are equally environmentally friendly. Robust plant fibres such as hemp, sisal, jute and seagrass are extremely durable. When left undyed they retain muted colours with varying depths and tones that create interesting shading. Plant fibres absorb natural ecological dyes extremely well producing strong hues that will add a contemporary style to any home.

Sustainable Materials

Rugs made from recycled rags stitched or threaded through a base of hessian sacking, is a custom that was originally borne of necessity such as in World War Two. The technique is being revived again using waste trimmings from the manufacture of cotton clothing such as tee shirts. Fibres made from recycled PET plastics are being woven into rugs, while tencel, a fibre manufactured from wood pulp has the sheen and texture of silk.

Child Labour

A large proportion of hand woven rugs are currently manufactured in India and Nepal where unfortunately, child labour is still common. Choosing a hand-made rug from a reputable company is not only beneficial for the environment but ethically sound. Some companies use a percentage of their profits to actively improve the living conditions of the weavers and their children, mainly by funding their education and providing basic clothing and other goods.

Stylish Effects

Environmentally friendly rugs can be contemporary or traditional with stylish effects from a variety of labour intensive techniques such as weaving, crochet, plaiting, tufting and knotting and are consequently more expensive than mass produced alternatives. However, in purchasing ecological, uniquely styled rugs, the consumer can have confidence in high quality, hard wearing products that not only benefit the environment but enrich the lives of the weavers who make them.

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