According to the Walmart Rug Buying Guide, here are some tips for when you make your rug purchase:
- Decide where to put the rug
- Select a rug that fits your lifestyle
- Match the rug to your decor
- Follow basic design principles
- Use a rug pad
- Take proper care of your rug
While these tips are helpful for interior design, one critical piece, the most important one by far, is missing from this buying guide – find out who made the rug.
In 2014, the largest single first-hand investigation of slavery and child labour in a commodity’s supply chain to date was conducted by a team of researchers, through the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health. The ambitious project was led by Siddharth Kara, an expert on the issue of human trafficking, and the purpose of it was two-fold:
- To document the occurrence of slave-like labour exploitation in the hand-knotted and hand-tufted carpet industry of India
- To analyze the hand-made carpet supply chain from the point of production in India to the point of retail sale in the U.S.
Here are some highlights from the report:
- The team found 3,215 cases of forced labour under Indian law, meaning that the industry prevalence of forced labour is at minimum 45%
- 1,406 cases of child labour were found, resulting in a 20% industry prevalence
- The carpets made under exploitative conditions were being exported around the world to major retailers including Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Target, Sears, Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Ethan Allen, IKEA, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, JC Penny, Pier 1 Imports, ABC Carpet and Home, Cost-Plus, among others
- 99.9% of the cases documented were people who belonged to a minority ethnicity or low caste community
- Infants were often present in the weaving rooms, which put their health at risk due to the inhalation of thread-dust
- Common health issues for the workers included eye disease or loss of vision due to insufficient light, spinal deformation due to being hunched over the loom for extended periods, muscle pain and atrophy, headaches, malnutrition, pulmonary disease due to thread dust inhalation, cuts and infection, and psychological trauma
“The researchers reported being disturbed by the miserable conditions they documented, and also feeling discomfort as they watched destitute children weaving carpets with racing car designs that would one day adorn the bedrooms of affluent children around the world.”
Want to read the full report? Access it for free online here.
The good news is that you can buy rugs that are ethically made. The GoodWeave label ensures that no child labour was used in the making of your rug. You can learn more about their certification process and standards here. To find the closest retailer that sells rugs with the GoodWeave guarantee, plug in your postal / Zip code.
While every system can be undermined by greed, GoodWeave is doing their best to make the consumer experience an ethical one.
Because at the top of every rug buying guide should be the human worth of those who add beauty to our homes.