Rugs and Fair Trade

My living room rug is shot. After all the construction dust, dog slobber, and general wear and tear of the last five years, the poor thing is ready to give up the ghost. I decided since I’m taking on an overload of two classes this fall that I would splurge and get a new rug. Home Depot had a giant one for $200, but it was probably too big and not overly spectacular. It was helpful though to set my splurge limit there. Then, I started to get worried about buying a rug that was made using unethical labor (not that I’m saying Home Depot’s was; it just didn’t make any claims not to be either).

With a concern for price and ethical practice and my penchant for spending hours researching any product that is going to cost me more than $100, I was in for quite the rug hunt.

First stop — a local fair trade shop. This organization does good work, but their rugs were all heavily oriental in look, which is not what I wanted, and even on sale, they were $2500 minimum. Clearly, that was a little above the $200 price range. Moving on…

Another rug issue that I have is the fact that the dog is heavy enough to slide the rug, chair sitting on top of it and all, across the floor; that leaves a rumpled mess when he’s done playing, so I wondered if maybe I should buy carpet tiles. Commence with more research. I figured out that carpet tiles stuck down to a hard wood floor are probably not the best idea if you might want to expose an undamaged floor later. But, then I found a company called Flor; their tiles are designed to adhere to one another not the floor. Plus, I found the carpet tile to the right in their outlet. At only $7 a tile for the 12 tiles I would have needed, I liked the price. But, it just seemed a bit industrial for my taste. Plus, they didn’t talk about fair trade. They do use a high percentage of recycled content in their products though, and you can return the carpet when you’re ready to replace it to be recycled, so I did applaud the company’s environmental concern.


I was back to the fair trade trail. Who cares if I should have been lesson planning and reading about social justice? My mind was on one track. I found GoodWeave, an advocacy group working to stop child labor in the rug making industries of Nepal, India, and Afghanistan. I dug through their links to retailers selling certified rugs, experienced great shopping disappointment when I found a rug that I liked quite a bit at one of the stores only to realize it was not a certified brand.  I then fought hard to stick to my objective of fairness first.

So, having no luck at GoodWeave (though I do recommend them for others) I returned to Overstock has a line called Worldstock. I had found this line earlier, and according to Overstock’s website, the company chose to form Worldstock to provide employment for artisians around the world. A healthy portion of the Worldstock profits are invested back into developing communities. I’m an English teacher who tells my students all the time to be leery about company’s claims about themselves, so I was hesistant the first time I found the site. Having struck out at GoodWeave though, I went back to shop those rugs.

I found the dream rug there. Even though the proceeds were going to be reinvested in communities though, I still couldn’t justify an $1,100 rug in my budget. Sigh…what a beautiful rug. If I had been in an actual store, I would have run my fingers longingly through its pile before moving on.



So, it came down to a toss up between these two rugs (sorry about the awkward layout).


Back and forth, I went. Will dark brown make the room too dark? Is the other carpet colorful enough? Do I like those big flowers? Does the dark rug look contemporary enough?

Yes, this is how I shop for anything more than $100. It’s a nightmare. Finally, I have to use my auctioneer’s voice and say (in my head) “going once, going…” It’s my call to stop the insanity and make a decision.

I ran one more Google search on Worldstock, and the worst I could find was a caution that it might be bit twisted to support a “big corporate greedy monster” even if they are trying to be good. But, I choose to believe that maybe some big corporations should be rewarded for doing good. Then, they might be inspired to do more.Plus, I don’t really have compelling evidence that Overstock is even a corporate monster.

I cruised over to, a site I highly recommend searching for coupon codes before making any online purchases. I found a 10% coupon for Overstock.

Finally, questioning my decision making ability after 1:00 in the morning but wanting to draw my neurosis to an end, I clicked the button. Final verdict: Worldstock products are on sale for 10% off right now, saving me almost $15. The coupon from knocked off another $13. Shipping was free. So, for a final total of $121, the winner was


I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I really like it because I’m not paying the shipping for it to go back.

Anyone need a shabby area rug for the laundry room? I’ve got one waiting for you.