Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fair Trade Rugs

We are slowly working towards remodeling kind of a junky older house into something that will hopefully beautiful and cozy one day, and we've made some progress in the living room (new paint, floor tile, wood stove and hearth so far, plus new windows and a new couch to come sometime in the future), so now I'm turning my attention to area rug shopping (or maybe just window shopping, we'll see).

Here's what the room looks like now. We still need to replace the windows you can just barely see on the left, and we're going to get a different couch at some point. I think a nice area rug will help tie the room together. Want to be grossed out by the 'before' picture? Click at your own risk and scroll down a bit. :-)

And here's the hearth that my talented and hard working husband built and tiled all himself. I'm hoping to find a rug with some blue in it to tie in with the Mexican tiles on the hearth. Also I'm planning to re-paint that wall in the background below - when I chose the chocolate brown color, I didn't know we'd be adding the colorful hearth and I don't like the way they look together. And of course the nasty wall heater on the left will also go bye-bye soon.

I absolutely detest wall-to-wall carpeting but it is nice to have some warmth and softness underfoot here and there, and in the past, it pains me to admit that I have purchased a few conventional area rugs. Now that I am a more educated consumer, I cringe to think about what went in to the production of these cheap rugs - most likely child labor, not to mention plenty of nasty chemicals.

I've begun my search for more ethical options, and have found some beautiful rugs. The only problem I'm having is that most of the high quality, ethically produced rugs are made from wool, which I tend to avoid as an ethical vegan. (Yes, I realize that the shearing of the wool does not directly result in the death of the animal; however, wool collection often results in poor treatment and painful injuries to the sheep.) I suppose this is one of those gray areas so often encountered by people trying to live a life of kind choices - buy the rug that's better for human workers, or the one that doesn't support the cruel wool industry? I haven't made my decision yet, and would love to hear what your thoughts are on the subject.

In the meantime, I will go ahead and share a few of my favorite rugs (alas, all wool)... oh, and there is some great information about fair trade rugs in general on the Ten Thousand Villages Oriental Rugs Page.

Red Kazak rug, 6'4" x 8'7", $2,450

Mehendi Gabbeh Natural Dye rug, 5'8" x 7'8", $2,295

Red Kazak rug #2, 5'0" x 6'10", $1,650

I found a few others that I like on This site doesn't offer the comprehensive information that Ten Thousand Villages does, so I'm less confident about the production ethics, but there are some more affordable options, and they do claim to be fair trade...

This one is too small for the living room, but it would certainly be a welcome bright spot of color on my kitchen floor. I think the Mexican design motif is possibly more complimentary to our overall decor as compared with the other rugs above; however, I think these Mexican rugs are thinner - more like a heavy blanket - and for the living room at least, I really want something thick and substantial.

This one is from Peru, and again, I don't think the design is quite right for our living room, but I love the flamingo theme (I've always loved flamingos!) and am wondering if I could incorporate it into my bedroom or studio somehow.

This one would complement the colors of our hearth nicely, but its low price ($409.99 for an 8' x 10' rug) makes me skeptical of Worldstock's 'fair trade' claim.

Well, I guess that's enough of that... I feel like this is a weird post with no closure - I don't feel right buying a wool rug so I guess I'll keep looking and pondering. It's good to know that some fair trade options exist, and wool does seem to be the preferred material for natural rugs, I just feel like I'm going to imagine bleeding, miserable sheep every time I try to enjoy my new rug.

This uplifting weekend message brought to you by your friendly neighborhood vegan! Urg...

1 comment:

  1. Why don't you try to find a used/secondhand wool rug in good shape? That way you are not supporting the shearing of wool or unfair labor practices. You can always donate money to fair trade causes, which I'm sure you do anyway :D