Eco-friendly fibres: what makes our homewares sustainable?

Eco-friendly fibres: what makes our homewares sustainable?

Posted by Bronwyn Newnham on

There's no doubt about it, The Fair Trader team can't get enough of products made from natural fibres like jute, rattan and hemp. When a new order of baskets and homewares arrives, the woody scent of these natural materials fills our storeroom, and there's just something about it that makes our hearts happy. The interesting textures and earthy colours of these skillfully handwoven products make for stunning, neutral homewares that will compliment any home. But not only are products made from natural fibres a delight for the senses and truly one-of-a-kind, they are also extremely sustainable. Read on to learn more about some of the incredible eco-friendly materials our products are made from.


Jute, fondly known as 'the golden fibre', comes from the Corchorus olitorius and Corchorus capsularis plants. Jute grows predominantly in Bangladesh, and is the same fibre that is used to make burlap and hession. Jute fibres are very sturdy and strong, and they are built to last.

What makes jute sustainable?

  • Jute fibre is 100% biodegradable and compostable. It typically biodegrades in 1 - 2 years
  • The jute plant consumes carbon dioxide and releases oxygen at a rate much higher than trees. A hectare of jute plants consumes about 15 tonnes of carbon dioxide and releases 11 tonnes of oxygen. By removing carbon dioxide from the air, jute helps fight climate change
  • Cultivating jute in crop rotations enriches the fertility of the soil for the next crop
  • Jute does not require much manual irrigation because it grows naturally in tropical areas where rainfall is high
  • Raw jute is washed in boiling water to kill any insects that may be present, making it entirely chemical-free
  • Jute grows very quickly, reaching maturation within 4 to 6 months of it being planted. Harvested twice a year, it is a highly renewable fibre

Our Fair Trade jute homeware picks

1. Shapla Jute Coasters. Shop here.

2. Jute Macrame Table Runner. Shop here.

3. Jute Plant Hanger. Shop here

All of our jute products are Fair Trade and handmade by women in Bangladesh.


Rattan is a climbing palm that is native to the rainforests of Indonesia. The vine-like branches climb up the tropical trees, and can grow hundreds of metres long.

The baskets we sell at The Fair Trader are made using Kubu Rattan. Kubu is a technique where the harvested rattan is submerged in a pond of mud and leaves for about four weeks before weaving the baskets. It is a natural treatment against woodworm and other bugs, without the use of chemicals.

What makes rattan sustainable?

  • Rattan grows naturally in tropical rainforests, therefore it does not interrupt the balance of the local environment
  • Rattan helps fight climate change by cleaning the air of carbon dioxide
  • Rattan renews in 5 to 7 years, making it an extremely sustainable wood
  • The processes that are used to make rattan baskets are all manual, which means there is no impact on the environment from industrial production facilities
  • Rattan products can withstand the elements therefore they are great for indoor or outdoor use and will last for a very long time

Rattan Baskets

Visit us in store at Croydon South or Northcote to view our range of Rattan baskets, made Fair Trade by artisans in Indonesia.


Hemp grows naturally in the Himalayas and has been used for thousands of years to make clothing, rope and building materials. Hemp fibre is derived from the outer layers of the long woody stems of the Sativa plant.

What makes hemp sustainable?

  • Hemp uses less water compared cotton and also has a higher yield
  • Hemp plants mature very quickly - in only 3 to 4 months
  • Hemp is 100% biodegradable and compostable
  • Not only does hemp require fewer pesticides and no herbicides to produce, but it also helps remove toxins from the soil
  • The fabric made of hemp fibres is breathable, durable and naturally anti-microbial

Our favourite hemp products

1. Hemp & Organic Cotton Bag. Shop here.

2. Hemp Wash Cloth & Scrubber. Shop here.

3. Hemp & Organic Cotton Reusable Makeup Wipes in Bamboo Case. Shop here.

Shop our sustainable living collection here.

Written by Rebecca Sykes


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