Your Guide to Choosing an Organic Rug

Taking steps to free your home of harmful chemicals and toxins doesn't have to mean you have a barren, minimalist home. With the increasing focus on organic materials and eco-friendly products, it's possible to design a beautiful, sacred space that enhances your health instead of hurting it. One easy way to reduce some of the VOCs in your home is to choose an organic option when adding rugs to your space, and thanks to Stephanie Holmes and Matt Budenholzer, of Organic Looms, we've got tips on how and why to go about it!

Why Go Organic?

Perhaps the most important reason to go the organic route with rugs is indoor air quality. We spend most of our time indoors, yet our internal environments are actually much more polluted than the outdoor atmosphere, due to off-gassing, VOCs and more. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average person experiences 72% of his total chemical exposure in his own home!

How does this relate to rugs? Rugs and carpeting are two of the most common culprits of off-gassing, due to chemically produced material and backing. Since many traditional and machine-made rugs are actually composed of several loose pieces of yarn, they include chemical backing for cohesion, which can off-gas harmful VOCs over time. Many popular rug materials, like nylon and polyester, will eventually produce these gasses as well. With a truly organic rug, there will be no off-gassing. Organic rugs are made of more environmentally (and health) friendly materials like wool, silk and various plant fibers. These rugs are also longer lasting, generally of higher quality and have a low carbon footprint

How to Go Organic

So where do you start if you're on the search for an organic rug? Research! Go old school and call local rug companies, or head to Google and search "organic rugs" to get a good idea of what's available for your budget and needs. Be diligent and careful not to fall into a greenwashing trap, though, as the term "organic" has become a bit diluted over time and there are no regulations on what businesses can label with that term. 

Take care to ask about materials used in the construction of your rug, not just the primary material, as well as the process itself, including dyes used and construction method. This will help you determine whether each rug option is truly organic. 

Know ahead of time what the perks are for each option. For instance, wool is the most durable organic option and is easy to clean, making it great for high-traffic areas, whereas silk is a strong, beautiful material, but is more difficult to clean. If you're vegan, opt for plant choices like hemp, nettle and other animal-friendly materials! Check out these tips for finding the right material for your space. 

There are many organizations dedicated to producing high quality, eco-friendly rugs, like one of our favorites and our gracious all-things-organic-rugs educators, Organic Looms. Ultimately, it's about finding the right company and right rug for your space!

by Anjie Cho