I'll admit that I often make every day choices as a consumer which are not necessarily in my highest "Green integrity." Here in the U.S.A. we are out in the front lines of the Green Movement (whatever that means to you), but our daily consumer options to buy green are still lagging dramatically in comparison to their traditional and less eco-examined commercial, residential and industrial product options.
Expanding Your Options
While it surely helps if I, as a consumer, up the ante by opening my wallet (and my search filters) increasing my oringally intended spend limits, sometimes this doesn't generate any more viable results or options. I can easily lean on the "not readily available" reason code for choosing to buy a product or service that is not sustainable and human/earth-friendly. No matter how much I wish it were otherwise, I am still a pragmatic and practical consumer like most of us and find it difficult to either pay dearly for the available eco-friendly option, or abandon my new item search all together.
Case-in-point; Our family is currently in search of what would seem a very benign and easily available product from our home. We're on the hunt for an area rug for the living room of our modest home. Generally, we find ourselves straddling on a few options;
1) Wool - This material is "natural" obviously, but we have no idea what sort of pesticides and treatment chemicals have been applied to the masses of wool rugs available. It's a problem of traceability and credibility. Not to mention we've also found out first-hand that some wool rugs shed dramatically in the early stages of their life. With a young family, we crawl, roll, walk and play directly on this rug and wonder how many of those little wool shards end up in our lungs and more obviously end up stuck to our skin and clothing.
2) Cotton - Certainly a viable, robust option for an area rug. However, styles and patterns are extremely limited when you add Organic Cotton as a requirement. It is possible to have an organic cotton rug hand made for you, but here's where the pragmatic and practical shopper comes into play. Forking out the money for a custom made 8 x 10 foot area rug is a very intimidating prospect.
3) Jute, Seagrass, Hemp, etc., - I don't know about your experience with these potentially very sustainable and earth-friendly woven fibers, but mine has been mixed. Generally I find the robustness is fantastic and usually a jute (or similar) rug will outlast just about anything in your home no matter how hard you use and abuse it. The down-side is I've mostly found that however well these fibers function from a longevity standpoint, I believe a whole lot of their duration is due to the fact that they are so hard and rugged (like their cousin products - barge rope) nobody wants to spend any time walking or sitting on them much less rolling and crawling. I've seen how my pets develop welts on their bony portions of legs and arms from laying on jute rugs for long durations...highly undesirable.
4) Misc - This list includes many lesser known and sometimes hard to find entries. A less than complete list includes Bamboo fiber (rayon) & Cotton blends, wool blended tiles, bamboo and other wood or wood-like materials. None of these options we researched were as "human" friendly as we desired for our family space and were therefore not considered viable.
In the spirit of full disclosure, it's my wife Karyn who is responsible for the exhaustive research on family and earth-friendly rugs. Coming back to my previously mentioned "admission"; Here it is...I caved in long before Karyn and suggested we go with a polypropylene area rug and let it off-gas somewhere before we place it in our living space. I know...I have no excuse for this transgression. Again, it's easy to lean on lack of practical options. I also found myself saying something like, "We grew up with these nasty, off-gassing carpets and rugs and came out okay". Does this sound familiar? I admire and appreciate my wife's persistence and commitment in times when mine runs a little thin. And I too act as a champion to Green causes when Karyn may not see the value or justification behind my choice (The LED Christmas tree lights did grow on her after a few days). We make a good team of checks and balances.
Rest assured - Once we find an answer to our long sought hunt for the best family, human and eco-friendly area rug options we will offer them to you on TurningLife.com
Until then, we are a family without a rug...
Keepin' it Green.
Labels: area rugs, consumer choices, cotton, eco-friendly, ethical consuming, green business, green economy, hemp, jute, online retail, organic material, organic rugs, sustainable living, wool rug