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The Revival of Sisal

There is a revival of the use of sisal. Sisal is extracted from the fleshy leaves of the Agave Cactus plant and has a wide variety of uses these days. It yields a stiff, durable fibre used for a range of products, most notably rope and industrial fibres.

Back in the 1970s, global production was booming with Kenya and Tanzania accounting for over 30 percent of the total produce and China, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and Mozambique also taking part in its production. In 2006, however, production decreased  dramatically. This was due to the the fact that sisal initially caused a lot of degradation to the earth. It replaced native forests and extracting the material from the Agave actually resulted in 98% of the plant as waste. There was also an emergence of synthetic fibres made from petroleum which were more popular.

With the incessant need to find natural, sustainable products the production of sisal in a more environmentally friendly way has emerged. Countries have revived the way they produce the product and how they utilise its waste.  Now countries that produce the most sisal, like Tanzania, plan to use the waste as fuel in generating electricity and as a bio- fertiliser. The waste has been used for the production of biogas for stockfeed also.

No chemical fertilisers are used in sisal production making it an environmental gem and hugely popular for a world obsessed with the natural alternative. Carpets and rugs are a common sisal product and there are many benefits of choosing this material. Most importantly, they are very durable so will last a very long time.

Sisal carpet does not build up static nor does it trap dust, so vacuuming is the only maintenance required. Depending on climatic conditions, sisal will absorb air humidity or release it, causing expansion or contraction. It can be blended with acrylic or wool to make it softer as the material can be quite robust. Sisal rugs naturally absorb excess sound in your home due to the molecular structure of the fibres and are naturally fire resistant.

They are also anti-static and will repel static electricity in your home and are also stain resistant making them an easy choice for a home luxury.

When conventional carpets contain synthetic glues with formaldehydes and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) it is no wonder we are experiencing the return of sisal, in all its natural glory!

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