Who Made My Rug?
This is week is Fashion Revolution Week and the #whomademyclothes campaign. This was started in response to the 2013 Rana Plaza Factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed 1,138 people. I’m sure we all remember this. This was a factory where many of our favorite “fast fashion” brands had their clothing made. I remember hearing the news and seeing the images and then immediately thinking, “I’m never going to shop at H&M again.” But guess what, that didn’t happen.
I assume that I am like many other people in our country or developed nations, where our capitalism is so ingrained in how we operate and make consumer decisions. We are becoming more and more accustomed to buying things on the cheap and quickly. Not only that, but expect things to be cheap. If I walk by a cute H&M window display, I am going in, and I am walking away with some new cheap and disgustingly cute clothes that I may or may not wear more than 7 times.
I get it. We are all on different budgets with different income levels, and there are certain times in our lives, where by necessity, we need things quick and affordable for our family. I in no means want this blog post to make people feel guilty for shopping at big box stores, because we all DO. I think what I want to do is just point out how this fast fashion mentality has gotten us farther away from the art of making and the cost of true production both in actual dollars and cents and socially, politically and environmentally.
This mentality is not only saved for the fashion industry but the furniture and decor industry as well. My passion for bringing decor to homes that is healthy for people and the planet is at the heart of my business. I believe that we don’t need to compromise our budget or conscience for beautiful design.
Let’s take a quick look at these two rugs. Both of them are eye catching, right? Let’s dig in a bit further.
Rug #1 is from Rugs USA a online discount rug retailer. They have a wide selection of rugs in different styles and colors. Rug #1 is $237 for an 8×10 and I do not know who made it, nor the manufacturing circumstances. It is made from 100% Polypropylene. Do you know what material that it is? Well not many people do. Basically it’s plastic fibers made in a lab. It’s somewhat cheap to produce, but it’s by-product is quite nasty for the environment. The lifespan of a Polypropylene rug is short. You see, plastic fibers are quite hard to clean and start looking pretty shabby pretty quickly.
I’m sure we’ve ALL experienced this. I for one can be the leader of the this club. How many times have I been to Target or Ikea and seen a $19.99 rug and thought “OMG, It’s SO cute, I can use it in X room! It’s only $19.99!” And then, as the story goes, it looks grosser and grosser after I vacuum it. And then it starts to smell like the vacuum. And then you go into your basement and you realize you have 4, freaking 4, Polypropylene rugs that are waiting for their chance at a second life somewhere. That’s almost $500 of Polypropylene plastic in my basement at this moment.
Now let’s take a look at Rug #2. You can find it through Anou, one of my MOST favorite resources for rugs. It is aprox. 8×5 and costs $ 818.00, including shipping. It was HANDMADE by Khdija Hamid, the woman you see below. Let me just say that again, HANDMADE. There are still artisans all around the world that make rugs and textiles by hand.
Khadija as a native of Agouti (in Morocco) and has lived in the village her entire life. She completed primary school and hopes to study again one day. When Khadija is not embroidering or crocheting new items, she can be found working in her family’s field. She hopes that through the sales of her items, she’ll be able to support the growth of the artisan associations she works with.
This rug is made of 100% wool. Yeah! We all know what wool is, right? We know where it comes from and how to pronounce it. We also know that wool is friendly to the environment. Sheep give us an amazing fiber to work with. And in the case of this particular rug, the wool was washed in the local river and dyed without chemicals. The other thing that goes unnoticed about wool? It will last forever and it’s easy to clean. A rug for $818 that will last forever? Not a bad deal.
So far we know buying wool fibers is good for the planet. We know that this particular rug is good for the people making it–it not only provides valuable income but the practice is keeping a strong cultural tradition alive. We also not know that it’s good for the consumers, on the other end of the supply chain. We benefit because we are choosing to fill our homes with natural products that are safe for our family.
So the moral of the story? Similar to food, if you can’t pronounce items on the label, then there’s a good chance that it isn’t a good choice for the planet or people. SO practice restraint. When you see another $19.00 rug that you MUST have. Stop. Breath. Tuck that $20 bucks away and within a few months you’ll have enough to invest in a rug that will last you a lifetime.