Jute – a Sustainable Resource?
Jute is a natural textile fibre that is produced and processed mainly in India. Among other things, it is used to make carpets, cushions and clothing. Jute is considered a highly sustainable raw material and impresses with many positive characteristics. In the following, we will introduce you to the material jute in more detail and explain why the natural fibre can be an excellent alternative to other textile fibres.
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What is jute?
Jute is a natural fibre obtained from two species of the plant genus Corchorus. The fibre made from the raw jute has a slightly golden sheen, which earned it the nickname “golden fibre”. For many years, jute was mainly used in the packaging industry, but now there are even more sectors that appreciate the excellent properties of the fibre – especially in the textile industry. For instance, you can find jute more and more often in clothing or home textiles, such as rugs or cushions.
Export hit jute – sustainably and fairly produced
Up to now, jute has been a niche product in Germany, known mainly for its light brown shopping bags. Globally, however, jute is one of the most important natural fibres of all and ranks directly behind cotton. Worldwide, several million people are involved in the cultivation, harvesting, production and processing of jute. Choosing cushions or carpets made of jute and opting for products from responsible, fair production means supporting small farmers and family businesses in particular.
How is jute processed?
Jute plants belong to the mallow family and can grow up to four metres high. The desired fibres are found in the wooden stems of the plant: if you roast them for several days, they open up so that you can extract the jute fibres. Afterwards, the fibres are washed and dried.
Once the fibres have dried, they are spun into yarn. Depending on the type of production, however, there is often another intermediate step: the jute is treated with oil. This is supposed to ensure better results and easier processing during spinning. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon that oil containing mineral oil is used for this production step – which is not entirely harmless from an ecological perspective. However, you have nothing to fear from a health point of view. As the fibres are thoroughly washed out, there are usually no traces of mineral oil left in the jute products. In addition, more and more producers are working with harmless vegetable oils – another step towards more sustainability.
What are the properties of jute?
In Asia, jute has been used for the production of textile fibres for many years. This is not surprising, as jute has many positive properties:
- robust, tear-proof and resistant
- high water absorption capacity
- completely biodegradable/rotting quickly
Despite the many advantages of jute as a natural fibre, it also has a few disadvantages. We don’t want to hide these from you: Jute is not completely odour-neutral and has a tendency to decompose. In other words, a wet jute bag that cannot dry properly will sooner or later start to mould. But don’t worry – with normal use and care, products made from this sustainable raw material are impressively robust, long-lasting and will accompany you for many years.
Additional information: Brown or white jute?
There are two different variations of jute. In shops you will often find brown and white jute – depending on which of the two plant species the natural fibre is made from. The difference between white and brown jute fibre lies mainly in the colour. In addition, brown jute is also much more robust than white jute.
Where does jute come from?
Jute plants thrive particularly well on so-called alluvial soils. These are aqueous soils that are found near rivers and lakes. Among other places, such soils can be found alongside the Ganges delta. The Ganges delta is the largest river mouth in the world and is located in South Asia. It is only logical that the largest jute producers are located there.
With almost two million tonnes of jute per year, India is considered the largest jute producer. This is hardly surprising, after all, the cultivation and production conditions here are excellent. In addition, in recent years, the regions of India dedicated to the cultivation of jute plants have upgraded technologically. As a result, India has been able to clearly set itself apart from the competition as a producer for some time now. Commitment and ambition come as little surprise in this case, as India is not only the most important producer, but also the largest consumer of the natural fibre jute.
Other countries known for growing jute plants and producing jute fibres:
- South Sudan
How sustainable is jute?
Are you wondering why jute is environmentally friendly? There are several reasons: The material is completely natural and is made from renewable raw materials. Moreover, the production process is very low in CO2 emissions and uses only few resources such as water or electricity. Because the soil on which the jute plants grow is very fertile, hardly any fertiliser needs to be used during cultivation. Many small farmers also do not practice monocultures, so that the soil is not overused and fewer pesticides have to be used.
What is made from jute?
In India, the largest producing country, a considerable part of the natural fibre is used for the production of environmentally conscious packaging materials – bags, fabrics, cords and ropes made of jute are standard. In this country, too, jute bags have been a more than sensible alternative to plastic bags since the 1970s.
Jute carpets inspire with their look and feel
In addition to many useful everyday objects, decorative home accessories can be made from this sustainable raw material. Especially popular: round jute rugs in colourful designs. We offer many models as hand-woven jute carpets, in which recycled cotton materials have also been incorporated. This not only gives them an extravagant look, but also makes our jute rugs doubly convincing in terms of sustainability.
Another advantage: jute carpets are extremely robust, durable and delight with their pleasant feel. The soft, warm structure is perfect for anyone who wants to sit on a jute rug while meditating or let their kids play on it. Moreover, jute rugs are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. However, it is better not to get them wet.
Tip: How do you clean a jute rug?
Vacuum your jute rug regularly to remove dust or crumbs. If it has gotten a few stains, however, you should not wash it or soak it completely. Instead, dab the spot with a little washing-up liquid on a damp cloth. Alternatively, you can put a little natural vinegar on the cloth. A wet jute rug should be dried as soon as possible – if necessary using a hairdryer.
Jute cushions are suitable as seat and floor cushions
Equally as popular as round, colourful jute rugs are jute cushions. After all, they are also wonderfully indestructible and a decorative eye-catcher on sofas, armchairs and the like – both indoors and outdoors. They are also ideal as seat and floor cushions. Just like our jute rugs, our jute cushions are hand-woven and come from fair production.
Conclusion: Jute is a sustainable textile fibre on the road to success
Jute is a textile fibre that we can unreservedly recommend to you. It is a purely plant-based natural fibre that is cultivated, produced and processed in many places in India in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. By choosing jute, you support small Indian farmers, the environment and the climate – and delight yourself with handmade home textiles that make your home more beautiful.