Going green – GoodWeave Runners & Rugs
We were recently asked if we sold “ethically made stair runners”, which got us musing as to how a runner could be ethically produced. We do sell carpet binding (Easy Bind), which is ideal for making your own runners and rugs and is excellent for using up remnant carpet or cut-offs from wider broadloom carpets – sounds environmentally friendly but not exactly ethical…
So, then we turned the question around and wondered what could be “unethical” about a runner; having done a few Google searches we came across Goodweave and the whole issue of illegal child labour and exploiting children – a big problem in the rug industry, so it seems.
On the Goodweave website there are case studies of children found working on the looms – it is a complete eye-opener! Dirty kids, less than ten years old with expressionless faces working flat out in a workshop – hand-weaving rugs for export to the West. Evidently, the workshop owners like using children because they have small, nimble fingers – ideal for making intricate rugs and fast.
These children just know work – it seems that childhood does not apply to them as many are working nowhere near their homes, often hundreds of miles from their villages and families. Despite employing children under 14 being illegal in countries such as India and Nepal, the practice is evidently widespread. Worst still, many of the children are sold into bonded labour, i.e. slavery, so many don’t even get paid and are unable to escape.
The Goodweave organisation is an international not-for-profit organisation which runs a labelling scheme for rugs – basically, if a rug has a Goodweave label on the back of it, it means that it has not been made by children. The organisation employs inspectors, who carry out random inspections of the premises of the signed-up producers and if the producer abides by the rules they are allowed to sell their rugs with a numbered Goodweave label on the reverse. The producers contribute to a fund, as do Western importers, and the money raised pays for the rescue of children found working on the looms, their education and financial support for their community to try and ensure more children do not suffer the same way.
So, if you are looking to buy a rug or runner in the UK and want to be sure you are not guilty of having exploited a child in the process I suggest you visit the Talking Rugs website. The site lists retailers who sell Goodweave labelled rugs and runners. Unfortunately, none of the big chain stores are listed – perhaps they don’t know what ethical means either.