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Guide to Choosing an Eco Rug

Guide to Choosing an Eco Rug

If you’re worried about the rumors floating around concerning things like phthalates, BPA, and other VOCs, then you probably know that low air quality in homes is becoming a problem. So what’s a good step to take towards a healthier environment for your family?

Carpets and rugs are one the biggest culprits when it comes to contaminants. Reduce your exposure by learning how to make the right purchase, here are our top five tips for doing just that.

1. Look for Natural or Recycled Fibers

Most machine-made rugs are made from synthetic fibers that release VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds); they can cause long-term health problems. Instead, try to find rugs made from natural fibers like:
• Wool
• Sisal
• Seagrass
• Bamboo
• Coir

These rugs are made with little to no pesticides or fertilizer. They’re biodegradable, made from renewable resources, and are frequently just as stain-resistant as their manmade counterparts. You can also find rugs that are made from recycled products, like soda bottles.

2. Look Into Chemical Treatments

Many rugs made from natural fibers are still not the most eco-friendly option because they’ve been treated with repellents for stain, insects, or flammability. Or they might have been processed with other solvents and detergents that are just as chemically-laden and unhealthy. Look for non-toxic, untreated, natural dyes, or organic labels to make sure this isn’t the case with your rug.

3. Watch Out for Toxic Rug Pads

Foam rubber, plastic, and synthetic latex are all materials to avoid when it comes to picking rug backings or pads; they also harbor harmful VOCs. Try to find camel hair, felt or untreated wool backings, which are sewed or non-toxically glued to the underside of the rug. If you’re looking for a less expensive option, find a backing made from natural latex.

4. Look for Certifications

There are so many variables to be aware of that sometimes even the most informed consumer won’t find the information they’re looking for. If this is the case, just keep an eye out for a certification provided by an impartial organization, like these:

• Cradle to Cradle
• Global Organic Textile Standard
• SMART Sustainable Flooring
• Scientific Certification Systems (SCS)
• CRI Green Label Plus
• Carpet and Rug Institute

With these labels, you can be sure that a rug is made of sustainable or recycled materials, and even that some waste and pollutants have been eliminated from the manufacturing process.

5. Recycle Old Rugs

After you’ve bought a beautiful new toxin-free rug, you may want to get rid of old ones in a responsible way. Some manufacturers have a “take-back” program, where they’ll donate your worn-out rugs to charities or recycle them into new ones. If you can’t find such a program, contact the Carpet America Recovery Effort, where you’ll find the locations of their rug recycling programs.

There are so many options now available for finding the beautiful and sustainable rug that works with your lifestyle and your home. And by choosing natural rugs for your home, not only can you avoid getting allergies, headaches, and other ailments, you can also feel good about doing your part in reducing the waste that goes towards making harmful rugs.

Read more: Bed & Bath, Eco-friendly tips, Feng Shui & Organizing, Health & Safety, Household Hints, Non-Toxic Cleaning, Reduce, Recycle & Reuse, Uncategorized

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Adria Saracino

Adria Saracino is the Head of Outreach at Distilled, an Internet marketing agency, where she connects businesses and helps them establish meaningful partnerships. You can also find Adria talking and tweeting about fashion through her blog, The Emerald Closet.


+ add your own
2:52PM PST on Jan 19, 2014

Rugs made from recycled plastic can also be considered Eco Rugs. They are a good use of wasted plastic from pop bottles, buckets etc. and much more durable than natural fibers.

6:35AM PST on Jan 2, 2013

Thanks! Am in the process of pulling up carpet. Will be buying rugs in next year.

4:05PM PST on Dec 28, 2012


2:57AM PST on Dec 26, 2012

This is a great article. I'm tired of reading articles that say that VOCs are bad, but don't offer any alternatives. Of course, we have to research ourselves, but it's good when you have a starting point.

3:08PM PST on Dec 22, 2012

My rugs are ecologically sound. I hope the same goes for others.

4:35PM PST on Dec 11, 2012

not sure what my rug is made of since my parents bought it, but I wouldn't buy wool since I found out that they treat the animals like crap

12:34PM PST on Dec 11, 2012

thanks, great information

9:28AM PST on Dec 11, 2012


Rawganique sells alot of interesting eco items

(i have bought some of there organic stuff - i like it- not rugs, but they sell hemp rugs):

"Hemp Area Rugs

100% Organic European -

European Hemp Area Rugs by Rawganique. Sweatshop-free. From certified organic European hemp. Many colors and sizes. "

hemp bath mats:

1:46AM PST on Dec 10, 2012


12:59AM PST on Dec 9, 2012

great info - will use it! ... I like the idea od a bamboo rug! vegan / green and healthy! : )))

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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