When it comes to choosing a rug for your home, finding a material that is environmentally friendly may be an important factor that you want to consider. The most environmentally friendly rug materials are often rugs made from natural fibers. Natural fiber rugs are not synthetic or chemically treated, and they often come from plants. Many of these natural fiber rugs are made with renewable resources.
When dealing with natural fiber rugs, you have the benefit of making a wise decision for the planet, but there are some important things to keep in mind. Natural fiber rugs tend not to do well around moisture, so make sure to keep them out of bathrooms and mudrooms. Basements are not well suited for them either. On the other hand, natural fiber rugs are great at repelling dirt, providing natural insulation, and they often are hypoallergenic.
Here are the most environmentally friendly rug materials and their benefits, as well as some of our favorite rugs made with these materials.
Wool is a very popular rug material that comes from sheep and goats. Wool is entirely natural as long as no chemicals are added when coloring or preserving the wool. Wool is much more durable than rugs made from synthetic fibers, which makes wool rugs one of the best choices on the market.
Wool is naturally stain-resistant due to the organic coating on each fiber that repels water and stains. The fibers are curled like springs, so it is difficult to wear down wool pile, which makes wool great for heavy foot traffic areas in the home. Wool is naturally hypoallergenic, acts as a natural air purifier, and does not support the growth of mildew. Wool naturally insulates the home, providing warmth and year-round humidity control.
Cotton is sustainable, renewable, and biodegradable. It is the largest natural fiber supplying the global demand for textile products. Cotton is a very durable and hypoallergenic environmentally friendly rug material that happens to be less expensive than wool.
You will often see wool and cotton blends for a more durable, but less expensive type of rug. Cotton rugs hold onto their color well, which means they can be produced with lots of bright colors—like this bright blue flatweave cotton rug. Cotton’s natural look is just as gorgeous as any colorful rug. We love this natural tassel rug and this beautiful ivory cotton rug.
Jute is another durable natural fiber that is perhaps one of the most eco-friendly materials available. This biodegradable and recyclable material is derived from a tropical plant. The fibers are spun together into strong threads to make rugs, mats, hessian bags, and twine. Jute has been nicknamed “the golden fiber” because its natural color is somewhere between off-white and brown. Jute is second only in production to cotton as the world’s most popular textile.
Many jute rugs come in their natural state, while others are dyed. Even when colored, jute rugs maintain their down-to-earth nature. This orange round rug is colorful, yet still very boho. This beautiful jute rug has pops of indigo blue that contrast nicely with the natural color of jute. Then you have something very different, like this jute rug that is completely colored.
Hemp is naturally hypoallergenic and non-irritating to the skin. Hemp is another one of the most environmentally friendly rug materials available. Hemp is naturally resistant to pests and its growth requires very little water. Hemp is derived from hemp grass, also known as mount grass, grown in the highlands of China. The hemp plant has thick, rigid reeds that are non-porous and smooth.
Hemp is a surprisingly soft and flexible material. Like most natural fibers, hemp’s natural color is a variety of warm, tan hues. Hemp goes through minimal processing before being spun into yarn cords. This 100% hemp rug has a tribal pattern that goes well with the natural color of hemp, as well as the fibers that are dyed a darker brown. This hemp rug has beautiful accents of red—another color that matches well with the natural hemp color.
Sisal is a renewable and sustainable rug material that is very durable. Sisal is biodegradable, naturally, stain resistant and the process of growing sisal is very eco-friendly. Roughly 1,000 fibers are extracted from a single leaf.
This affordable material is also naturally insulated, reducing humidity and heating and cooling costs. Sisal is very easily dyed and bleached, making it very versatile too. Even so, sisal is widely popular in its most natural state, like this natural taupe rug or this natural tan rug. You’ll often see sisal rugs with a fabric border, like this rug with a black border.
Bamboo is another environmentally friendly rug material of high quality. Bamboo forests are highly renewable and can be grown in a matter of a few years. Very minimal resources are needed to grow bamboo.
Bamboo is both soft and strong, making it a practical and cozy rug choice. Bamboo rugs tend to keep their essence of nature, like this dark brown, minimalist rug. This forest green bamboo rug has a more traditional pattern but still has a rugged nature to it.
Another well-loved environmentally friendly rug material is seagrass. This natural material is durable and easy to clean. In most cases, seagrass is not dyed and is simply left as is. The variety of natural colors seen in seagrass range from khaki tan to sage green.
Seagrass is highly stain-resistant. The natural wax coating on seagrass fibers helps prevent dirt from settling in. Like other natural fiber rugs, you’ll find a lot of plain seagrass rugs with a colored cotton border. We love this light seagrass rug with a bold, black border, and this seagrass rug with a bright turquoise border.