Rug Trends: Recyled Rugs

One way that rugs achieve environmental benefits is through the use of recycling materials. And not surprisingly a growing number of recycled rugs are appearing, as interest in all things with an environmental benefit grows.

Recycling actually has a long history in rug making, as in previous generations, rugs would be made from strips of old clothing and fabrics, creating what are often called rag rugs. These were made by ordinary households as makeshift floor coverings, while the wealthier acquired fine handmade wool and silk rugs from the East. In fact, rag rug making continues today in the form of a home craft, supported by rug-making kits.

It is possible more people may be tempted to try to create their own rag rugs in the future with fabrics from favourite - but no longer usable - curtains, coats, pullovers or other re-appearing on the floor. fabrics or clothing. The process is however laborious and enormously time consuming.

Commercially, meanwhile, the rug business is coming up with more and more items made from re-used, or reclaimed cotton, denim, silk, leather and other materials - all sourced from used items or as off-cuts from local industries.

For example, southern Spain has an ancient, and now revived industry making "jarapa” rugs (usually referring to rugs, but it can also include thick blankets or bedspreads etc). Weaving skills came to Andalucia with the Moors around the tenth century. Today, this local industry uses remnant cotton and other materials from the garment making industry in Catalonia to the north to produce handmade rugs that are now exported around the world.

Elsewhere, India has developed rugs made from recycled sari silk, and leather rugs from offcuts in the leather industry.

A more modern, designer take on this concept is the current range of denim rugs, stitched or woven from recycled old jeans. Branded jeans already have a healthy market in the thriving "vintage" clothing look in cities around the world. But denim can also have a later use underfoot as denim rugs. Jean manufacturers have been collecting used denim produces for some time for re-use, notably in the USA, where a major application is as home insulation - probably the final use of recycled jeans.

A few years ago, Cotton Incorporated, a grouping of US manufacturers, created the wonderfully named campaign: "Blue Jeans Go Green™," for denim to be collected and recycled into UltraTouch™ denim insulation.

In comparison, recycled denim rugs are something of a specialist market. At least one major jean brand has got on board: Nudie Jeans, based in ever-green Sweden. And Apple Rugs offers the recycled denim rug opposite for its online customers.

recycled denim rug
This is a rug from the USA that uses old jeans and other denim clothes.

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