Cotton is primarily grown in China and India, although the United States is also a large producer. Cotton production relies heavily on fertilizers and pesticides, but organic farming techniques are becoming more common. Cotton has a pleasant, natural feel, but is prone to showing dirt and quickly wears down in high-traffic areas. Cotton carpeting was popular in the United States before World War II but was quickly replaced once synthetic fibers became available.
Wool is collected from sheep and other animals worldwide but is primarily produced in Australia, China, the United States, and New Zealand. It is a strong and resilient fiber with natural stain-resistance. It does not give off any fumes or smells and is considered to be hypoallergenic. Wool is naturally flame retardant and has excellent thermal insulation properties. While it has long been available as a carpet in the US, wool is much more expensive than petroleum-based fibers.
Sisal is produced from an agave-like plant that is grown in Brazil, Mexico, and parts of Africa and Asia. While sisal fibers are very durable (second only to wool), they can be stained by water and fade in sunlight. While no fertilizer is necessary for the plant to thrive, the plant only produces 200-250 commercially-useful leaves during its lifetime of 7-10 years. Because fibers only make up 4% of the leaves, a large amount of waste is leftover after extracting the fibers. Research is currently focused on developing a method for producing biofuels from the waste.
Jute is harvested from the skin of the Jute plant, which is the second most commonly cultivated fiber plant after cotton. It thrives in the wet and warm monsoon climate of India and Bangladesh and can grow several feet tall in 4-6 months without the aid of fertilizers or pesticide. Jute fibers are soft but durable and have long been used to make burlap and twine. Jute can be used in a variety of decorative weaves and accepts most dyes readily, but is also susceptible to stains and fading.
Seagrass grows underwater in tropical sea marshes, but are typically cultivated in flooded paddies in China and Vietnam that can compete with rice production. It is harvested by hand, dried, and woven in its complete form to produce a hard and durable carpet. It is commonly left undyed but can be found in a variety of neutral green hues. It retains a grassy, hay-like scent that dissipates over time.
Coir fibers are short fibers harvested from coconut shells, which can range from pale, fine fibers to brown, coarse fibers depending on when the coconut is harvested. Most of the cultivated coir comes from India and Sri Lanka. Coir is durable and resistant to fungus, but is also known to cause an allergic reaction in some people. A single palm tree can produce 50-100 coconuts per year. Of the fibers that make up the outer layers of the coconut, one-third is useful coir and the rest is considered a long-lived waste product that takes 20 years to decompose.