More and more people are becoming aware that a majority of rugs and carpets on the market today are not Eco-friendly let alone health-friendly. Many rugs and carpets contain hazardous materials and chemicals that can affect your family’s health. You know that new carpet smell so many find attractive? Well, that smell is actually caused by harmful chemicals called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs for short. Gasses from these VOCs are emitted into your home’s atmosphere day after day and exposure to these gasses can contribute to health issues such as dizziness, headaches, allergic reactions and irritations of the nose, eyes and throat.
As far as negative health effects to the planet, manufacturing these non-natural rugs and carpets uses a great amount of energy and other resources such as water.
Conversely, natural floor coverings are made from renewable materials that come from plants, and sourcing these materials is never harmful to the environment. These plants are able to quickly renew themselves so there is no ecological damage in the process.
Environmentally friendly rugs and carpeting are also much better for your health, especially if you are someone who suffers from allergies. Natural fibers reduce allergens emitted in the air and are generally easier to clean and maintain.
Let’s take a look at some of the natural materials being used to make rugs and carpeting.
Sisal is actually a type of agave plant which a produces a very stiff fiber that has traditionally been used to manufacture rope and twine. In recent years Sisal has become a very popular choice in area rugs because of its durability and ability to repel dust and other small debris.
Sisool is a newer creation that blends the beauty and softness of Wool with the strength and durability of Sisal. This marriage creates a rug that is both soft and coarse and beautifully distinctive.
Jute is a shiny vegetable fiber that is long and soft and can be spun into strong, course threads. This material is one of the most affordable natural fibers, second only to cotton. But, unlike cotton, Jute requires little need for fertilizers and pesticides making it an extremely eco-friendly crop. As a textile, Jute has many advantages in the home. It is durable, sound and heat resistant, has anti-static properties and is naturally decomposable.
By now most people are familiar with the versatility of hemp. Cultivated from the Cannabis plant, the fibers are used to manufacture durable clothing and home textiles. Hemp rugs are course at first but soften up in no time having a similar feel to cottons.
The Abaca plant is a species of banana that is native to the Philippines and is only grown commercially in the Philippines as well as Costa Rica and Ecuador. It was originally sourced to make strong ropes and twines but is now mostly used in the creation of certain paper products and textiles. It is very durable and resistant to saltwater damage.
And speaking of saltwater, Seagrass is a plant that grows close to shorelines and since the early part of the 20th century has been used in one way or another in furniture making, most specifically as a stuffing for mattresses. Today Seagrass can be woven into beautiful and unique area rugs that are durable and stain-resistant.
Mountain grass rugs are made from strong grasses that are found high up in mountain ranges located on the Pacific Rim. These rugs last an incredibly long time thanks to their durability. Mountain Grass is a particularly eco-friendly material because once harvested, the grass fibers grow back incredibly quickly making it a sustainable sourced material for home décor. Also, a majority of mountain grass rugs are not dyed with toxic chemicals so they are a good choice for people with certain sensitivities and allergies.
Coir is a hard fiber that is found between the outer shell and husk of a coconut and it is used in a wide array of products. Considered one of the strongest natural fibers in existence because of its high levels of lingnin, coir resist bacterial and fungal growth and is durable against water and wear and tear. And since coir is harvested from a renewable source and is biodegradable, it is a big player in the “green” game.
You may have never heard of some of these wonderful materials, but now that you know they are incredibly friendly to both the environment and your health, consider using them in your home to accent and soften your beautiful hardwood floors.