Our commitment to the environment begins with designing for sustainable, rapidly renewable materials such as wool, silk, hemp, and nettle. Our rugs are hand-knotted by Tibetan weavers in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal. They hand spin their wool and use traditional vegetable dyes or eco-friendly, non-toxic Swiss Ciba colors. We also have a line of un-dyed wool rugs and Alto Steps called the Black Sheep Collection, which are blended from natural sheep tones of black, brown, gray and white.
All our rugs are 100% untreated (no finishes or sealants), making them VOC free. They are simply washed and dried in the sun. The high lanolin content of the Himalayan wool results in a naturally water-repellent rug. The tight weave contributes to the stain-resistant quality of all of our rugs. Our Tibetan hand-knotted rugs have no backing, they are woven on cotton string.
Additionally, our manufacturers have a state-of-the-art recycling system in place for the water used in the dying process. Visit our production page for more information about how our rugs are made.
Our hemp rugs are made from plants grown in the Himalayan mountains. The biodegradable hemp crop is a quickly renewable resource and is naturally resistant to disease and pests. Hemp grows in almost any conditions and flourishes in difficult terrain, producing 10% more fiber than cotton or flax when grown on the same land. Hemp’s long, tough bast fibers—those that grow on the outside of the stalk—are ideal for strong and durable rugs.
Nettle, while known primarily as a medicinal herb in the States, is a Himalayan perennial similar to hemp in durability and natural pest- and disease-resistance. However, nettle is a softer, lighter weight fiber making it easier on the weaver’s fingers and your feet. Its bast fibers are smooth and when woven, nettle takes on a silky luster. Nettle is known locally as “Allo.”
The adhesive mesh that comes with all Alto Steps rug orders and prevents slipping is made in the USA with a non-toxic, water-based adhesive. GoodWeave offers an online tool to track our carbon footprint to check that we are doing all we can to reduce our impact on the earth. Finally, our own in-office environmental efforts include using all blank sides of scrap paper for notes, orders, and phone messages before recycling them. We make every effort to buy recycled paper products. We recycle wherever possible, and even reuse packing materials when sending out orders. We compost burlap packing materials received in shipments from Nepal.