Jute is a versatile, eco-friendly natural fibre that has been used for centuries for various applications, from textiles to packaging materials. As the world becomes more environmentally conscious though, jute has gained even more widespread popularity due to its many environmental benefits, such as being biodegradable, renewable and sustainable. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about jute, from what it is to how it's made and used, and its impact on the environment.
What Exactly is Jute?
Jute is a long, soft, shiny vegetable fibre that is extracted from the stem of the jute plant. The jute plant grows primarily in warm, humid regions of Asia, such as India and Bangladesh. It is an annual crop that can grow up to 4 metres in height in as little as 4 to 6 months. Jute fibre is composed of cellulose and lignin, and is one of the cheapest natural fibres in the world, making it an important crop for many developing countries with regard to products made and used as well as for trade.
Jute fibres are long and soft, with a golden brown colour. They are also very strong and durable, with low extensibility and high tensile strength. Jute fibres are commonly used in the production of textiles, such as burlap, hessian, and gunny cloth. They are also used for various other applications, such as paper, rope, and twine.
Main Jute Producing Countries
The top jute-producing countries in the world are India and Bangladesh, which together produce around 90% of the world's jute supply. Other countries that produce jute include China, Thailand, Myanmar, Nepal, and Bhutan. As you can see, Asia is well-represented, just as it is for other brilliant natural fibres and materials, such as kapok and bamboo.
It's important to note that jute is an extremely important crop for these countries, as it provides employment for millions of people and contributes significantly to their economies, which is a win-win when the product is so environmentally friendly.
Manufacturing Jute into Textiles
The process of turning jute fibre into textiles involves several steps, including harvesting, retting, stripping, washing, and spinning. The first step is to harvest the jute plant, which is done by cutting the stem near the base of the plant. The harvested jute is then bundled and soaked in water to begin the retting process, which involves the natural breakdown of the plant's outer stem fibres. After a few days, the jute is removed from the water and left to dry in the sun.
Once the jute is dry, the outer fibres are stripped away, leaving the soft, golden brown jute fibres. These fibres are then washed and spun into yarn, which is used to create various textiles, such as burlap, hessian, and gunny cloth. Jute textiles are known for their strength, durability, and breathability, making them ideal for a variety of applications, including home decor, fashion, and packaging materials.
Ethical Considerations of Jute Production
While jute is a sustainable and eco-friendly material, there are ethical concerns surrounding its production. In some countries, jute workers are underpaid and work in unsafe conditions. Additionally, the use of child labour has been reported in some jute-producing countries, though our suppliers have been thoroughly vetted for this awful practice. And indeed, efforts are being made throughout the world to improve the ethical standards of jute production amongst even the non-vetted companies, as more and more ethical standards are becoming the norm.
One way to ensure ethical production of jute products is to purchase fair trade and organic jute. Fair trade certification guarantees that workers are paid fair wages and work in safe conditions. Organic certification ensures that the jute is grown without the use of harmful pesticides and chemicals. By purchasing fair trade and organic jute products, consumers can support ethical and sustainable jute production.
Best Products Suited for Jute
Jute can be used to make a variety of products, including mats, rugs, poufs, and handbags. Jute mats are commonly used as doormats or yoga mats, while jute rugs are popular for their natural, rustic look. Jute poufs make great seating options and add texture to a room, while jute handbags are stylish and eco-friendly alternatives to traditional leather bags.
Jute is especially well-suited for home decor products due to its natural, earthy look and durability. Jute is also a great option for products that require strength and durability, such as ropes and twine. Additionally, jute can be blended with other fibres such as cotton or wool to create unique and versatile textiles.
Cost of Jute
The cost of jute products varies depending on factors such as quality, production methods, and location. In general, jute products are relatively affordable and can be a cost-effective alternative to other natural fibres such as cotton or wool. However, the cost of jute products can increase for high-quality or organic options, which is our preference.
Benefits of Using Jute in Rugs and Other Products
Jute rugs and other products offer several benefits over other materials. Jute is a natural and sustainable material, making it an eco-friendly choice. Jute rugs also have a natural texture and a unique, rustic look that can add warmth and character to a room. Jute is also durable and long-lasting, making it a good investment for home decor products.
When compared to other materials such as cotton, wool, and synthetics, jute offers several advantages. Jute is less prone to shrinking or stretching, making it a good choice for rugs and other textiles. Additionally, jute is less likely to show wear and tear over time, making it a durable and long-lasting option.
Jute vs Cotton
While cotton is a popular choice for textiles, jute offers several advantages over cotton. Jute is a stronger and more durable material, making it ideal for products that require strength and durability. Jute is also naturally resistant to pests and disease, reducing the need for pesticides and chemicals in its production.
Additionally, jute has a unique texture that can add character to a room. However, cotton is a more versatile material than jute and can be used for a wider range of products. Cotton is also softer and more comfortable than jute, making it a good choice for products such as bedding and clothing.
Jute for Outdoor Use
Jute is a great option for outdoor products such as rugs and mats. Jute is naturally resistant to UV radiation and can withstand exposure to the elements without degrading or fading. Additionally, jute is moisture-resistant, making it a good choice for products that may get wet.
Jute outdoor rugs and mats are also a great way to add natural, rustic charm to an outdoor space.
Jute for Camping
Camping is a fun and adventurous activity that obviously requires packing essential items to ensure comfort and convenience in the great outdoors. Jute products can be great additions to camping gear due to their durability and versatility, and this is especially so when glamping as well, as the entire camp set up reflects quality and comfort, along with the natural colours and textures of a boho site.
You can check out another one of our articles on nice ways to boho your campsite or your home here as well.
One of the most popular jute products for camping is a jute rug or mat. Jute mats are sturdy and easy to carry, making them an excellent choice for camping trips. They can be used to create a comfortable surface inside your tent for sleeping, sitting, or food prep and cooking. Jute is a natural insulator as well, and can help keep the tent warm during colder nights. Additionally, jute mats are easy to clean, making them ideal for outdoor use.
Another jute product suitable for camping is a jute tote bag. Jute tote bags are perfect for carrying camping essentials such as water bottles, snacks, and other gear. They are lightweight and amazingly durable, making them an excellent alternative to plastic or synthetic bags. Jute tote bags can be reused multiple times, making them an eco-friendly choice for camping trips.
In summary, jute products can be a great addition to camping gear due to their durability, versatility, and eco-friendliness. Whether you need a mat for sleeping or a tote bag for carrying gear, jute products are a reliable choice for your next camping adventure.
Jute in Boho and Bohemian Style
Jute fits perfectly with boho and bohemian style, which is known for its natural and earthy elements. The bohemian style emphasises the use of natural materials and incorporates different textures, patterns, and colours. Jute products are all that and add a rustic, vintage touch to boho and bohemian decor.
Jute rugs, poufs, and handbags are some of the most popular jute products used in boho and bohemian decor. Jute rugs have a unique texture that adds depth and warmth to any room. Poufs made from jute are a perfect accessory to create a cozy seating area. Jute handbags, with their natural and earthy colours, easily tasseled and versatile, are an ideal accessory to complete any boho or bohemian outfit.
Moreover, jute products are often handmade, which is a very big bohemian value, making each product unique and one-of-a-kind. Jute's natural and sustainable qualities make it a perfect fit for those who value eco-friendliness and a natural lifestyle.
Disadvantages of Using Jute
No product is perfect. So, despite its many benefits, jute still has a couple of disadvantages that should be considered when choosing jute products. The most obvious disadvantage is its susceptibility to long term moisture and humidity. Like many natural products, jute products can also get damaged when constantly exposed to water or high humidity, making them unsuitable for consistent outdoor use in wet climates.
Another disadvantage is that jute fibres can shed, especially in the first few weeks of use. This can be a minor nuisance and requires regular vacuuming or sweeping to keep the area clean. After a few weeks, though, this problem tends to disappear.
Lastly, jute products can have a distinct, earthy odour, which some people find mildly unpleasant. However, this odour dissipates over time, and with proper care and maintenance, the odour can be minimised. We personally love this smell in new jute rugs.
Jute as an Eco-Friendly Material
Jute production does have an impact on the environment, as it requires large amounts of water and land. The cultivation of jute also requires the use of pesticides and fertilisers, which can have negative effects on soil health and water quality. These problems are largely obviated through organic jute cultivation, as minimal water is required and there is no use of pesticdes or fertilisers.
But even in non-organic jute agriculture, jute is still considered to be a very sustainable crop compared to other natural fibres, such as cotton, as even though it needs water, pesticides and fertilisers, it needs much, much less.
Jute is therefore one of the most eco-friendly materials available for use in home decor, outdoor products, and fashion accessories. Jute is biodegradable, quickly renewable, and jute plants also absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide, making them an excellent tool in the fight against climate change.
Furthermore, jute production provides income for millions of farmers in developing countries, improving their livelihoods and strengthening local economies, which allows better overall efforts to promote sustainable and ethical jute production, including fair trade and organic jute products.
We're big jute fans. Jute is a versatile and sustainable material that has many advantages and uses in home decor, outdoor products, and fashion accessories. It's a natural and eco-friendly alternative to synthetic materials, making it an excellent choice for those who value sustainability and ethical production practices. Additionally, it has many applications - jute rugs, jute mats, jute poufs, and jute bags and handbags are just a few examples of the many jute products available on the market today.
Whether you're looking to add a touch of rustic earthy charm to your home decor, create a cozy outdoor seating area, or accessorise your boho outfit, jute really is a perfect choice. With its durability, versatility, and sustainability, jute is an excellent investment that will provide years of use and enjoyment.