Where To Find Natural and Non-Toxic Rugs for A Chic, Sustainable Home

Image credit: Armadillo
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Whether you’re looking to do a full revamp of your home or just want something to freshen up the vibe of a room, the right rug can really pull together a whole room. It can create coziness, make a statement, and anchor your furniture in your space. 

Most often, rugs are a huge investment, and they should be able to stand the test of time—and foot traffic. Be sure to choose a floor covering that’s not only functional for your space, but also safely and ethically made using non-toxic and sustainable materials.

While you might not find a neon pink plush rug made from the earth’s finest materials, there is something to be said for the elegant and timeless simplicity of naturally-made rugs. Most often, they’re dyed with natural pigments in luscious earth tones that can be used with any decor style— whether now or eight years from now when you want to redecorate. 

Trendy synthetic rugs, meanwhile, break down and look rather beat down over time— prompting you to go out and purchase a new one to keep your space looking fresh. 

Natural fibers, on the other hand, tend to age gracefully. Jute, for example, has been used in tough conditions, such as yoga mats, for centuries, as it holds up to wear and tear. Wool, a popular traditional option for rug making, is both durable and soft, making it perfect for entertaining rooms and high-traffic areas. There are options out there that can make any home the coziest place on earth, and plenty of them are non-toxic. 

What to look for in ethical and sustainable rugs:

Natural, deadstock, or recycled fabrics. Always go for natural or certified organic fibers when you can. Most big box store rugs are made from synthetic fibers like Olefin (aka polypropylene) and nylon, which are derived from petrochemicals. Choose rugs that are made from natural fibers like jute, cotton, hemp, bamboo silk, wool, or palm fibers. GOTS is a good certification to look for when it comes to household textiles. Recycled or deadstock materials are supportive of the circular economy and reducing waste, but aren’t a perfect solution and should be a last resort. 

Non-toxic dyes and finishes. Many brands use synthetic dyes and finishes since they tend to be cheaper and easier to source and dye with. But as with most things synthetic, they can be toxic for the environment, the people making them, and you. Look for brands that say they use specific natural and/or non-toxic dyes, or labels like Oeko-Tex, which certify that a product or component is free of toxins that are potentially hazardous.

Wool is naturally fire-retardant, but polyester and cotton are not. Many synthetic or cotton rugs are finished with chemical coatings, including flame retardants and stain-resistant finishes. If you see promises of stain resistance, look further into how it’s done. This particular feature is most often achieved using a highly toxic class of chemicals called PFAS

Transparency. Choose brands that prioritize transparency in their supply chains. Do they tell you where and how your rug was made? This is especially easy to do, since rugs don’t involve as many components or steps as clothing — and are a traditional artisan-made product. As always, make sure you make sure the brand is following fair labor practices. Go for small artisan brands that provide information about their workers, or look out for labels like Fair Trade, GoodWeave or Care & Fair Certification. Rugs are an especially beneficial investment to purchase from an artisan brand, as there is no shortage of rich traditions around the world. 

B Corp certified. A B Corp Certification is a certification that measures a company’s entire social and environmental performance, from supply chain and input materials to employee benefit and more. It’s a good indication that the company is committed to being a responsible one.  

 

Here are our picks for the best brands for ethical and sustainable rugs:

 

Organic Weave’s handwoven rugs are made from GOTS-certified, 100% organic cotton and wool. They’re dyed using all-natural dyes, and are free of toxic chemicals that are harmful to both human and environmental health — all the way from the farm to your home. These include synthetic pesticides and fungicides while growing the cotton, cleaning agents like bleach and formaldehyde, synthetic dyes, and chemical treatments to reduce stains and flame retardants. Every Organic Weave rug is certified free of illegal child labor by GoodWeave. 

 

Minna is a certified B Corp, queer-led business based in Hudson, NY that stocks ethically made home goods. It collaborates with artisans across Central and South America, ensuring craft preservation and job creation in these regions. Its rug collection includes rugs made from wool and cotton, which are naturally dyed using vegetables, plants, and nuts. Designs are inspired by Feminist art, the Bauhaus, traditional craft, and vintage textiles, and you can find rugs in flatweave and shaggy styles in neutrals with bold, abstract patterns. Each rug comes with a description of the maker, and you can read more about the artisans they partner with on their website. 

 

The Citizenry collaborates with workshops and artisans around the world, blending contemporary designs with traditional techniques. By partnering with craftspeople, they achieve premium quality and support fair trade standards. All its products are made with a fair trade process audited and guaranteed by the World Fair Trade Organization. The Citizenry team personally travels to each country, and by doing so they create strong relationships with their collaborators and are able to audit the locally sourced materials.

 

Cicil uses minimally processed wool for its rugs, which is sourced from family farms in New York, Vermont, and Pennsylvania. It doesn’t use any synthetic dyes and instead sticks to the natural hues of the fiber, resulting in a collection of lovely neutral rugs. Wool naturally has antimicrobial and stain-resisting properties, so the rugs aren’t treated with toxic chemicals and finishes. It is also a renewable, eco-friendly resource. Shearing is necessary to lighten the load of the sheep before the summer, and their wool is minimally processed. You can read more about its supply chain and process on its website. Cicil only makes rugs to order to avoid stocking excess inventory and waste. 

 

Obakki’s beautiful collection of rugs is handwoven by artisans from Mexico to South Africa. One of the materials used in the rugs is 100% mohair fiber, which comes from the fleece of an Angora goat and is soft, durable, naturally stain resistant, and non-flammable. The rugs are either undyed, retaining the lovely natural color hues of the wool, or dyed using natural, non-toxic pigments.

 

Definitely one of the more contemporary options on this list, Cold Picnic’s rugs will make your home look like a modern art museum. The rugs are handmade by skilled artisans in India in a production unit that is 100% powered by solar energy. The factories are Goodweave- and C&F-certified, which requires complete supply chain transparency, commitment to children’s and workers’ rights (which means no child or forced labor), and strengthened worker communities. The rugs are made from bamboo silk yarn or natural hemp, dyed with eco-friendly dyes, and are not treated with any chemical coatings. Cold Picnic also has a Deadstock rug collection, which is made from leftover yarn. Some of the pieces in this collection are literally one of a kind, since they are made with whatever leftover fabric is available. 

 

Based in Australia, Armadillo is one of the first Certified B-Corp rugs brands in the country. It uses natural materials including jute and solid- and abrash-dyed wool to handcraft expertly woven and knotted designs that outlast trends and offer unique texture to any space. These rugs are made without artificial dyes and toxic backers to last years. Hues span a natural palette, from deep indigo to rich, rustic earth tones.

 

Made Trade is one of our top favorite marketplaces for sustainable and non-toxic home goods, and rugs are no exception. Made Trade features rugs from various brands that carefully handcraft rugs from natural, non-toxic, and sustainable materials. It also stocks brands based in cultural tradition, and you can find rugs from Oaxaca to New Zealand, depending on your style and material preferences. The platform thoroughly vets brands based on numerous factors from sustainability certifications to fair trade and manufacturing transparency. 

 

Parachute Home’s rugs are a must-have for wool lovers. Made from New Zealand wool and cotton, its Oeko-Tex-certified rugs are crafted in a Fair Trade-certified factory in India, where they are woven on traditional looms to achieve tried and true patterns made to last. The rugs are unbacked and designed in “livable patterns” meant to compliment, not overtake, the surrounding furniture and decor. 

 

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