All About: Jute

All About: Jute

Michelle Chin
Sep 27, 2010

What do burlap, gunny sacks, and hessian cloth all have in common? They're made from the same fiber: jute. Many kinds of twine and canvas can also be attributed to jute. It is the second most produced fiber (behind cotton) and one of the most affordable and environment-friendly. Its lifecycle goes beyond seed to expired fiber, because it can be recycled more than once. Read more...

Jute grows in standing water and does best in monsoonal weather. For centuries it has been a cornerstone of Bengali culture. In the 1980s, due to the rise in the use of synthetic fibers, the farming of jute in Bangladesh crashed and farmers burned their crops after not being able to fetch market appropriate prices for their yield. Since 2004, the price of jute crops has increased over 500% as jute has been used in non-fabric commodities such as paper, cellulose, composite "wood", and geotextiles.

The production of jute requires little in the way of pesticides or fertilizer.

As awareness has spread and the world is becoming more environmentally conscious, jute bags are replacing plastic shopping bags (sometimes even upcycled from old coffee sacks). Household items made out of this material are becoming more common, in either its pure form or as a blend with cotton. Naturally colorfast and durable, it makes for excellent floor coverings and window treatments. But creative designs using jute can be found in everything from upholstery to hammocks.

For agricultural uses, it's highly biodegradable, which makes it ideal for controlling soil erosion. It degrades slowly enough, while holding seeds in place while they become established.

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(Images: 1. Jute Table Runner by SouthHouseBoutique 2. Jute Bouclé Rug by West Elm 3. Linen Pillow Cover with Jute Embroidery by TheHomeCentric 4. Ivory Jute Roman Shade by Cost Plus World Market)

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