Home & Garden Home The 10 Best Eco-Friendly Rugs of 2023 Organic Weave is our top choice for sustainable rugs in a range of designs. By Starre Vartan Starre Vartan Writer Columbia University Syracuse University Starre Vartan is an environmental and science journalist. She holds an MFA degree from Columbia University and Geology and English degrees from Syracuse University. Learn about our editorial process Published April 19, 2022 Share Twitter Pinterest Email Home Green Living Pest Control Natural Cleaning DIY Family Thrift & Minimalism Sustainable Eating We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more. A great rug can really tie a room together, creating a discrete visual area. They are also great for more practical reasons, like insulating bare feet from cold floors or providing a softer landing for kids and those of us who like to lie on the floor to read or watch TV. But rugs can contribute to our waste problems pretty easily, since they are bulky pieces that, once too worn or stained for continued use, can’t be recycled for the most part. Whereas once a worn rug might be considered normal or even chic—think old oriental rugs that look great at any life stage—rugs have become a semi-disposable household object. Because you can find very inexpensive rugs, some people simply replace them every few years. This combination has, unsurprisingly, led to increasing rug waste. Many of these inexpensive rugs are made with materials that aren’t biodegradable, meaning they will be sitting in landfills for hundreds of years. For those those who want a more sustainable alternative, we researched the market to find the best eco-friendly rugs. The Rundown Best Overall: Organic Weave at Organicweaveshop.com Jump to Review Best Budget: Hook & Loom at Hookandloom.com Jump to Review Best Splurge: ABC Carpet & Home Alchemy Collection Rugs at Abchome.com Jump to Review Best Runner: FLOR Area Rugs & Carpet Tiles at Flor.com Jump to Review Best Indoor/Outdoor: West Elm Outdoor Rugs at West Elm Jump to Review Best Cotton: Lorena Canals Washable Rugs at Lorenacanals.com Jump to Review Best Wool : Parachute Rugs at Parachute Jump to Review Best Washable : Ruggable at Ruggable.com Jump to Review Best for the Nursery: Under the Nile Big Rug at Underthenile.com Jump to Review Best for Pets: LOOMY Pet-Friendly Rug Collection at Loomyhome.com Jump to Review Best Overall Organic Weave 5 Organic Weave Shop View On Organicweaveshop.com A wide range of options combined with an impressive list of third-party certifications makes this company our top overall choice for sustainable rugs. All Organic Weave rugs are certified organic by GOTS (The Global Organic Textile Standard) and GoodWeave (certified to be free of child labor). Colors are via GOTS-approved dyes, and they are woven by skilled artisans in India. The organic cotton (handtufted or flatweave) or wool (handtufted, flatweave or handknotted) rugs come in a variety of sizes, colors, and patterns. Organic Weave can make custom rugs and even wall-to-wall custom rugs with organic cotton backing (like a carpet) and attached with a GOTS-approved latex glue, which is non-toxic and won’t offgas. Best Budget Hook & Loom Hook & Loom View On Hookandloom.com Hook & Loom offers flat-weave and loom-hooked rugs in cotton or wool, in a variety of colors and neutrals, patterns, and solids. The company makes 100% GOTS certified organic cotton rugs or rugs made from eco-cotton, which uses donated textiles sorted by color that’s spun into new yarn—keeping cotton waste out of landfills. The wool rugs are made with undyed, natural wool that’s hand-woven with hand-bound edges, so there are no chemicals, no dyes, and no latex. The company donates a percentage of its income to Water for People, which provides “access to fresh water in India and other countries where clean potable water is desperately needed.” Best Splurge ABC Carpet & Home Alchemy Collection Rugs Courtesy of ABC Carpet & Home View On Abchome.com The Alchemy Collection rugs from ABC Carpet & Home range from expensive to very, very expensive, but you could also think of them as works of art for your floor. The silk and wool combo (or just silk) is upcycled—made from excess yarn that’s re-carded, and then respun by artisans in India, before it’s designed and woven. Each rug is a unique creation, handmade from natural materials. Best Runner FLOR Area Rugs & Carpet Tiles Courtesy of FLOR View On Flor.com The challenge with a runner is that they tend to come in standard sizes—but hallways or long spaces can easily be non-standard. If you want to fill a hallway (or any other odd-shaped space) to your exact specifications, FLOR carpet tiles are the answer. As you might have guessed from the description, these rugs are composed of tiles—meaning you can create all kinds of lengths, widths and even jog around nonstandard edges. There are a huge variety of FLOR tiles that can be mixed and matched together for unique design options and some are made from post-consumer recycled materials. Each tile comes with a nonslip backing and you can swap out individual tiles if they get stained or worn without tossing the whole rug. The carpeting is made in sustainable manufacturing facilities, and the tiles can be returned to FLOR for recycling. Some of the tiles even feature CQuest backing, which is carbon-negative and made from bio-based elements and recycled materials. Best Indoor/Outdoor West Elm Outdoor Rugs Courtesy of West Elm View On West Elm The challenge with indoor/outdoor rugs is that you don’t want them to look that way. These from West Elm’s large selection of rugs mimic indoor floor coverings so much it’s hard to tell until you are up close that they are made from polyester, not a natural fiber. Designed to look like wool, the yarns used are actually made from recycled plastic bottles. Handmade in a Fair Trade Certified facility in India, the rugs are reversible for years of wear. Best Cotton Lorena Canals Washable Rugs Courtesy of Lorena Canals View On Lorenacanals.com Handmade by artisans, these all-cotton rugs in lots of designs, colors and sizes, Lorena Canals rugs give plenty of options. The company promises that only natural dyes are used to create the color on their rugs, and that they are free from toxic dyes or contaminants. The rugs backed with cotton canvas are suitable for kids rooms as they meet all the ISO standards for children’s products. Best of all, the rugs are washable in a home washing machine, so spills and messes can be washed out (although since they are cotton, stains will set if they aren’t removed quickly). Best Wool Parachute Rugs Courtesy of Parachute View On Parachute Parachute’s wool rugs are made with undyed wool and are OEKO-TEX certified, which means they are free from concerning chemicals. These rugs come in earthy neutrals that are rich in texture, which adds visual interest. If you're looking for a rug pad, Parachute also offers a non-slip option made from jute and natural rubber. The rugs are Craftmark certified which means they are handmade in India by traditional artisans paid a fair wage at a textiles factory with an eight-decade-long history. Best Washable Ruggable Amazon View On Ruggable.com Ruggable rugs come in two pieces that attach together, so they can be pulled apart and laundered very easily. Just keep in mind that most home washing machines can handle a rug with dimensions of up to 9 x 12 feet. Ruggable rugs should be dried on low in a dryer (or for a lower-carbon choice, simply dry outside; the relatively thin-but-tough material dries quickly). The bottom part of the rug system doubles as a rug pad, so the rug stays put and has a bit of padding. Available in six sizes, a doormat, runner, and round styles, the rugs come in a few textures and while they are plastic-based and can’t be recycled, some styles are made with recycled plastic bottle waste. They are extremely durable, and are printed on demand so the company is low-waste in that respect. Ruggable works with One Tree Planted, which resulted in 100,000 trees in 2020 to offset carbon emissions. The company also works with animal organizations on pet adoption initiatives and donates rugs to families in need. Best for the Nursery Under the Nile Big Rug Courtesy of Under the Nile View On Underthenile.com Under the Nile’s Big Rug has some serious bona fides: it's made with GOTS-certified 100% organic Egyptian cotton from leftover scraps from clothing production. Each 4 x 6 foot rug takes two days to hand weave in a Certified Fair Trade factory, which is regularly audited to ensure fair working conditions. The rugs are both durable, and extra soft (and they get softer the more they are washed, which they can be easily in a home washing machine). These rugs are free of AZO dyes, BPA, flame retardants, formaldehyde, fragrance, PVC or lead. Price at time of publish: $125 Best for Pets LOOMY Pet-Friendly Rug Collection Courtesy of Loomy View On Loomyhome.com Loomy makes a line of rugs specifically with pets in mind. The rugs are made by hand by artisans, free of “all harmful chemicals” and yarns are dyed using low-impact techniques. Only natural materials are used meaning they are 100% biodegradable at end of life. The pet-friendly rugs are made to be extremely durable even under high-traffic conditions, and are easy to clean. Final Verdict for a great selection of well-certified rugs (and the carpet option), we think Organic Weave is your best bet. For covering challenging spaces and lots of options, try FLOR tiles. What to Look for in an Eco Friendly Rug Before you shop for a new rug, always consider if there are any second-hand options that will serve your need. Check out local thrift and vintage shops, Craiglist, or online resellers like AptDeco and Kaiyo. Use If you are considering a new rug, get one specific to the area you will be using it. For example, while it might look cute on a Pinterest board, a high-traffic area is a bad place for a light-colored wool rug—look for something darker or made from tough natural materials like jute. A rug styled for a kid’s room will only last as long as the child is young, so can you buy one that will look good elsewhere in the house or convert well to a teen’s bedroom? If you have pets, look for a rug that's washable and tough enough to stand up to claws and enthusiastic moments. Materials Next, consider the materials your rug is made from. A rug made from natural materials like wool, cotton, silk, or jute it will eventually biodegrade, and it was made from a renewable resource. Rugs made from new polyesters, nylons, and polypropylene are less sustainable, since they're made from fossil fuels. Many in this group of chemicals create a distinctive odor which is often these chemicals offgassing. In the United States the federal government hasn’t set standards for VOCs but the EPA has found that levels of these chemicals are typically 2-5 times higher in indoor air compared to outdoor air. The agency links those VOCs to household cleaning products as well as “household materials and furnishings.” Opting for natural materials for a rug makes sense if you want to avoid VOCs, though there are some innovative and very durable recycled and upcycled rugs made from various plastics, and some of them might be appropriate in your home in high-traffic areas or outdoors. Chemical Treatments Treatments on a rug of any materials can also contribute to the chemical load inside your home. You’ll be exposed not only when you walk or lie on the rug, but also when the rug is vacuumed—it will send whatever is in the rug into your home’s air (worth keeping in mind when you choose a rug cleaner too—there are non-toxic options for this whether you DIY or hire a rug-cleaning service). For the most part, the chemicals you’ll want to avoid come from rug treatments like stain-resistance or waterproofing. According to the Environmental Working Group, perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), which are found in Stainmaster and Scotchgard, have been “identified as likely carcinogens, and are associated with birth defects and hormone disruption.” Antimicrobial treatments like Ultrafresh contain triclosan, a hormone-disrupting chemical. Frequently Asked Questions Where can I find second-hand rugs? Second-hand rugs are, like most second-hand furnishings, the most eco-friendly way to go. Look for them at antique stores, at online marketplaces like Etsy and eBay, and via local Buy Nothing groups (for freebies) or local Yard Sale groups on Facebook. Of concern with used furnishings is, of course, bedbugs. The good news is that when it comes to rugs, bedbugs don’t prefer them to lay their eggs in except in extreme infestations. Your first tactic is that you should carefully visually inspect the rug (outside) before you bring it inside and look for the telltale signs of bedbugs like red streaks and bedbug bodies. Give it a good vacuuming (still outside) and change the vacuum bag. If you want to be extra-careful, one simple solution is to unroll the rug and leave it outside in the cold if temperatures in your area drop below 20 degrees for at least a week. Another option is to heat-treat it. Wrap the rug in plastic, and get the internal temperature up to 110 degrees for 3 hours. This will kill any bedbugs as they can’t survive at high temperatures. Are seagrass rugs eco-friendly? Generally, yes. Seagrass is a fast-growing, renewable grass that is tough, and non-porous—it grows underwater so that’s a natural trait. It’s dried and machine-spun to create a yarn to make rugs from. Seagrass is a little lighter in color than jute and while you can’t wash it (vacuuming is fine), it’s quite durable otherwise. It does have a faint grassy odor when it’s damp, which most people find pleasing. How can I recycle an old rug? Rugs can be tough to recycle since they are made from various materials and most of this kind of recycling in local and a case-by-case basis. Check Earth911 for what might be available near you. Why Trust Treehugger? To make this list, we looked for rugs that are made with sustainable materials and made with efficient and ethical manufacturing practices. We also considered the design, durability, and value. Treehugger team members have reviewed a range of rugs in their own homes. Starre Vartan is an eco-living expert and the author of "The Eco Chick Guide to Life: How to Be Fabulously Green." She has tested rugs from Ruggable and Lorena Canals in her home, and she has also purchased and used FLOR tiles for a rug in her laundry room.