My approach to shopping has changed drastically this year. I don’t know when, exactly, it happened, but I started questioning the origin of things I was buying: how they were made, who was making them, and the conditions those employees were working in. Therefore, when I was searching for a living room rug and my friend Robin mentioned to me that the rug industry was loaded with child labor and slave labor conditions, I asked her to do a guest post about it. She’s currently working in the human rights field, so she’s more more well-informed about these things than I am!
Hello! This is Robin from Life Without Want. I am honored to be guest blogging here on The Borrowed Abode! I have had the good fortune to not only be Jane’s blogger friend but we used to be real life neighbors!
Recently, Jane has been hunting for the perfect living room rug for her house- one that is affordable, eco-friendly, and made using ethical practices. She asked me to share some information with you about ethical consumerism and the rug trade and suggest some resources to use when purchasing a rug.
The hand-woven carpet and rug industry in countries across Asia such as India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Afghanistan rely heavily on the use of debt bondage and child labor. Those in debt bondage are often forced to work 16+ hour days in factories, often children are brought in to assist in “repaying” the debt incurred by another member of their family. These children are unable to attend school in order to continue working and can suffer from severe health problems as a result of poor working conditions.
There are ways to make sure the rug you purchase is not made in poor factory conditions by men, women, and children held in debt bondage. Look for the RugMark label on carpets and rugs. RugMark certifies that all of their rugs are made without child labor. For more information:
- GoodWeave– a Washington DC based non-profit that provides more information and a good list of resources and retailers
- Made by Survivor’s Store– where you can purchase rugs made by the survivors of modern slavery
- Green Leaf Rugs– one example of a company promoting ethical and eco-friendly rugs
- The Rug Company– often hailed as the source for designer rugs, partners with RugMark to ensure that all of their rugs are produced in fair and ethical working conditions
If you are interested in a rug but are unsure of its origins, ask! Contact the company who makes it to find out where it was made and by whose hand. As a consumer, you have the right to know not only what the product you are buying is made from, but where and by whom. The more people who ask, the more companies will be forced to be honest about the conditions and circumstances that create their goods.
Beautiful, handcrafted carpets and rugs made with love and care in fair working conditions do exist! It is up to us as consumers to send a clear message that those are our standards for all carpets and rugs.