The Eco-Friendly Evolution

Sustainable rugs become more mainstream—and price friendly
Posted on December 8, 2015 by Andrea Lillo

By Andrea Lillo

GoodWeaveSeveral GoodWeave rugs at a Queens, N.Y., Target location last month. With the program, Target became GoodWeave’s largest partner in India. target.com
Whether it’s materials or manufacturing—or both—the eco-friendly movement has certainly evolved in the rug category, moving solidly into the mainstream.

In the past, going green usually meant going to a higher price point, but as this category gets bigger, more popular prices have come down. And the support at retail only gets stronger. This year, for example, Target teamed up with GoodWeave—the nonprofit working to rid the handmade rug industry of child workers—bringing GoodWeave-certified area, accent and runners to its stores. The program made Target GoodWeave’s largest partner in India.

“Target is committed to the highest standards of responsibility in our global sourcing practices,” Irene Quarshie, vice president, product quality and responsible sourcing, at Target, said in a blog post at the time of the announcement. “Our guests can feel confident that by purchasing an owned-brand rug at Target, they’re helping support the elimination of child labor in the rug industry and the education of thousands of children in India.”

GoodWeave-certified TargetEach GoodWeave-certified rug at Target has a numbered GoodWeave label affixed to the back. The GoodWeave rugs started rolling out to stores this summer.
Customers want to know how and under what conditions products are made, along with where they’re made, Quarshie said in the blog post.

All of Target’s directly sourced woven rugs from India are GoodWeave-certified, indicated by a numbered GoodWeave label affixed to the back of each rug. The rugs started rolling into stores earlier this summer.

GoodWeave Executive Director Nina Smith told HFN that Target has been an “excellent partner, and has spent considerable time on the ground with us. They’ve been very collaborative.” Child labor affects 168 million children under the age of 14 worldwide.

GoodWeave also has a line of certified area rugs with Macy’s, a partnership that began in 2011. Smith said that another retail partnership will be announced this month.

Pottery Barn Eco ShopPottery Barn highlights its sustainable products with an Eco Leaf icon, and online these products are brought together in a section called Eco Shop. potterybarn.com
Pottery Barn has bolstered its eco-friendly offerings, which now touch a number of home furnishings categories, including rugs. On its site, they are grouped together on a page called the Eco Shop, and an Eco Leaf icon is used online and in the catalogs and stores to signify a product that meets Pottery Barn’s environmental and social responsibility standards.

Pottery Barn’s eco-friendly rugs are handmade from recycled plastic bottles, and last month the site showcased about 14 styles, some in several colorways. With the exception of two printed designs, the rugs were constructed for indoor/outdoor use.

Material Sourcing

For Safavieh, the sustainable and renewable fiber line up includes jute, sisal, sea grass and hemp, while yarn made from recycled plastic bottles (PET yarn), is used in a line of rugs under its Thom Filicia license.

SafaviehThis sisal design is being added to Safavieh’s Natural Fiber collection, which it’s had for several years. They are made in India. safavieh.com
“From our perspective sustainable material rugs offer environmentally aware consumers a terrific option in home décor because in addition to being eco-smart, they are a remarkably affordable home product,” said Arash Yaraghi, principal of Safavieh. “This is an extremely important point because in order for sustainable products to become more mainstream the economics have to make sense, which when it comes to our area rugs, we are happy to say the economics work wonderfully well together.”

Safavieh approaches eco-smart materials as it does more conventional material, Yaraghi added, “which for us always starts by striving to transform our observations and sense of the lifestyles we see around us into inspired, alluring floor coverings.” The company accentuates the distinctive qualities of the materials, he added, to create looks that appeal to its customers. “From soft silky textures and exotic motifs, such as those in our Luxor collection (made from banana silk), to the casual, though deceptively chic look of our Cape Cod rugs (made from sisal and sea grass) we use natural fibers across the full spectrum of styles whenever possible.”

SuryaSurya debuted this Celebration design in its Papilio for Surya collection in October. It is handknotted of 100 percent recycled cotton t-shirts. surya.com
Surya, a long-standing member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, is also “committed to using sustainable and renewable materials and practices wherever we can to try to minimize our impact on the environment,” said Satya Tiwari, president. “When talking about eco-friendly, it’s really important to consider the whole picture—not only materials and labor but also the ways in which you package and transport your products. We carefully source our materials, sourcing locally as much as possible, and actively look for ways to minimize our carbon footprint.”

Surya uses natural fibers such as wool and cotton along with sisal, jute, seagrass and linen for a significant portion of its line, Tiwari said. “Handwoven natural fiber rugs remain a popular option and work well for layering,” and pairing natural fibers with other materials can also lead to interesting looks, such as mixing jute with recycled leather or adding metallic accents to cotton, for example.

In addition, with the growing trend of using repurposed and upcycled materials throughout home furnishings, Surya has added collections constructed of recycled sari silk, reclaimed canvas, leather scraps and plastic water bottles. Rugs using PET yarn, Tiwari added, “are a popular and versatile option because they can be used indoors or out.” For Surya, that includes its Lagoon flatweave collection, which looks and feels much like a cotton flatweave, he said.

“As a growing number of consumers become more interested in sustainable living, it’s great to be able to offer them beautiful products that are also eco-friendly,” Tiwari said.

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