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5 February 2018 

What is Jute? The Ultimate Guide.

What is Jute? The Ultimate Guide.

Jute is a vegetable fibre, mostly grown in tropical countries like India and Bangladesh.

It's easy to produce, sturdy, and biodegradable so it's the perfect material to use in handmade rugs, shopping bags, curtains, flour sacks, sacks to carry grains like wheat and rice, and into fabric. Jute fabric is often used to make outdoor cushions, jute laundry baskets, and aprons because it's so sturdy. But it's the jute rugs we love best.

In fact, jute fabric is the second most versatile fabric after cotton, and the second most common fibre grown and used across the world.

But the best thing about jute is it uses way less water to produce, and the production of jute is much more eco-friendly than any other fabric.

Because of this, we believe jute deserves to be named as the Number One material in the world!

What is Jute? A field of jute plants.

Image credit

Where does Jute come from?

Most jute comes from the bark of the white Jute plant, or Corchorus capsularis. Jute harvests take place once a year, after a growing season of around four months (approximately 120 days). 

Jute is golden-hued, so it's sometimes called Golden Fibre. It's light, has a shimmery shine to it, and has a flexibility and bounce unlike other fibres.

Jute grows best in tropical zones with mid-to-high humidity, in places such as India and Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar. Jute is also processed in Pakistan using a substantial amount of imported raw jute from Bangladesh.

Interesting fact: 90% of the world's jute comes from Bangladesh.

Jute farmers rotate their crops, to help keep the soils healthy and vibrant, so each crop of jute remains strong and full of life.

Jute thrives on rain, and with enough water, there's little need for fertiliser to help it along. Nor does it need pesticides.

Another reason why this crop fibre tops our list.

It's one of the world's most eco-friendly fabrics to produce, has an excellent cost-to-outcome ratio, and is sturdy too.

What is Jute? The golden fibre of jute plants

How is jute rope made?

Jute fibres range in length from one to four metres. Jute stems are cut, then bundled together in packs, before being soaked in water for periods of time to separate and loosen the fibres. This is called biological retting. Once this is done, the outer non-fibrous matter is scraped off, and then the softened fibres can be pulled straight out from inside the jute stem.

It's a time consuming process but occurs without polluting the earth with toxic chemicals.

This retting process can also be done chemically to strip the fibres from the stem, but it's much more expensive, which is good news for us. Most producers find it's just as easy to employ the natural method using water, and so they do.

These fibres are then processed into threads, which are then woven together to make jute threads (and from this into fabric), or jute rope.

Jute fibre is 100% biodegradable and recyclable, and does not create toxic gas when burned. This means your jute products such as rugs, mats, bags and carry bags, can also go straight back into the compost when are too old to be of use anymore, or recycle them in your garden beds as weed matting.

What is Jute? Black and Jute rug with cute puppy

What can jute be used for?

Jute fabric is super versatile and strong, so it's used for many purposes.

The most common way to use jute is in sackcloth.

Jute sacks are used to carry seeds and grains. Jute sacks are also used to wrap and store large products for sale such as gardening tools, outdoor furniture, indoor furniture, and for packaging - often replacing plastic-weaved sacking as a biodegradable eco-friendly alternative.

Jute is commonly used in landscape design. Landscapers use jute containers to plant young sapling trees, employ jute matting to prevent weeds from overpowering a garden, and use jute sacking to stem erosion. Large-scale projects to stop erosion on roadsides or prevent further damage on landslips use jute sacking underneath their concrete pours to hold it all in place. Jute is the tough fabric of choice when designing and implementing their prevention strategy.

Jute is often used in these types of landscape projects because of it's biological nature, and the fact it will break down over time without further invention, reducing the need for follow-up work to remove it.

In recent times, rug makers have also discovered the versatility and qualities of jute as a sturdy floor covering.  As homeowners shy away from synthetic floor coverings and search for alternative eco-friendly and non-toxic carpets, jute has become one of the most popular floor coverings of choice.

Jute is the perfect mix of natural fibre with a golden hue, and looks good in every setting in the home, especially those high-traffic areas of the home that need to withstand a cyclone of little people, pets and general life.

What is Jute fabric?

Jute can be made into textiles including:

  • Yarn
  • Twine
  • Sacking
  • Hessian
  • Carpet backing cloth

Jute can be used to make:

  • Curtains
  • Chair coverings
  • Carpets
  • Area rugs
  • Indoor rugs

Some of our handmade jute rugs are interweaved with complementary cotton threads and ropes to add new colours and varying textures.

What is Jute? Fabric for jute rugs

What is Jute, and Why Do We Love Jute Rugs SO MUCH?

When we first decided to look beyond our popular recycled plastic mats and stock other recycled rug products for our customers, jute was not the first fabric option that popped into our minds.

Cotton was.

We decided to look for makers of recycled cotton rugs, and not long afterwards, we discovered a place where many of the townsfolk are involved in the production of recycled cotton, rainbow-coloured Chindi Rugs. We loved them instantly and couldn't wait to bring them on board.

They ticked all our boxes:

  • They are made from Recycled Cotton Fabric
  • Their production stops bulk waste from reaching landfill, by recycling this fabric into brand new rugs
  • They are bright, colourful and cheerful - perfect for anyone living or working with children especially!
  • They are a statement piece people will treasure for years on end
  • Each sale of these rugs directly supports the families and extended families of the artisans and the craftspeople who plait and weave the coloured cotton rope.
  • Chindi rugs are a well-made product that lasts

Just a few short months later, we began to stock them in store.

We soon discovered that as good as recycled cotton rugs are in terms of sustainability, there was another fabric that rates even better in the sustainable eco-friendly world.

We started to hear about jute. "What is Jute?", we asked. And then made it our mission to find out why it's on everybody's radar.

What is Jute - this rainbow rug is made from jute and coloured

Round Rugs and Large Floor Rugs in Jute

We expanded our Recycled Mats range to include jute rugs of all sizes -  round rugs, large floor rugs, fashion rugs, and more - and they've been popular since day one.

We love our Jute Rugs so much, we wrote a whole story about them. Read it here.

You can also check out our full range of jute rugs here.

Jute rugs surprised us, and we've fallen deeply in love with them. We hope you will too.