Whether you need a rug to make your home cozier, because your downstairs neighbor has complained about footsteps, or to make your little one’s crawling practice a bit more comfortable, the rug-searching process can be a bit overwhelming. There are millions of rugs available online — but finding sustainable rugs that are also non-toxic, vegan, ethically-made, and in your price range can be a bit overwhelming.
Unfortunately, many rugs billed as sustainable are made from wool. While wool is technically a natural fiber, the wool industry is much more environmentally-destructive and cruel than the wool industry may have consumers believe. Other animal-derived fibers like silk, cowhide, and animal hair are sometimes used in rugs as well. Something else to look out for is the presence of PFAS (aka “forever chemicals”), which are a common additive in rugs, and have been linked to developmental issues, hormone disruption, and more.
The good news is, there are plenty of sustainable area rugs that are completely free of animal products and virgin plastics. So, read on for a list of a few brands that make fairly eco-friendly rugs (though note that many of these brands sell animal-based rugs, too — so just make sure to read the description before making a purchase).
West Elm sells a wide variety of rugs made from a variety of animal-free and low-impact materials, many of which have ethical or eco-friendly certifications.
For example, the company’s Ikat Mix Kids Rug is composed of recycled polyester, and it claims to be sustainably sourced, fair trade, and handcrafted; the handcrafted Rectangular Stripes Jute Rug is made from 100 percent natural jute with a cotton backing; and the Margo Selby Squares Rug is made of 100 percent cotton, reversible, and ethically handwoven to Nest standards. West Elm also sells the Eco-Stay Rug Pad, which is made of 100 percent soybean oil.
Fab Habitat makes a variety of rugs that are made from materials like recycled cotton, jute, recycled plastic, and reclaimed rubber. Many of the brand’s rugs are also machine washable, which helps extend their life.
As one of the pricier brands on this list, furniture company Burrow makes some seriously nice rugs, primarily out of recycled polyester. The brand claims that its rugs are all ethically sourced from artisans and partners in India, who are held to a high standard of working conditions. Burrow’s rugs are primarily made from recycled polyester, and the company’s reversible rug pad is made of recycled fibers and natural latex rubber.
Sustainable marketplace Made Trade offers a variety of rugs, and you can easily filter your search results to only include rugs that are vegan, fair trade, made in the U.S., and more. The website offers rugs from a variety of brands, such as Leah Singh’s GoodWeave-certified cotton rugs, Killim’s handcrafted cotton rugs, and Amante Marketplace’s jute rugs.
Direct-to-consumer rug company Revival aims to create thoughtfully-made rugs that don’t “cost a month’s rent.” — though some of the rugs on the website certainly do. Revival makes new rugs from materials including cotton and jute (in a variety of fun colors, which is rare for jute rugs), and it also sells a wide selection of one-of-a-kind vintage rugs, which the company professionally cleans before shipping out.
The Home Depot and Lowe's
Though they are big-box retailers, both The Home Depot and Lowe's have banned PFAS from any rugs they sell. So if the above options are out of your price range, you'll be happy to know that the two widely-accessible stores both offer a selection of area rugs that are made of natural and organic materials.