Living sustainably means retraining your eye to be critical of lifestyle choices and products that might otherwise be taken for granted. Familiarizing ourselves with how fiber is grown, processed and manufactured into clothing shines a light on how important it is to make choices that make life better for the farmer, the garment worker and our family. Taking that line of thought from clothing to bedding is a natural extension, since it’s a section of the textile industry that transforms a tremendous amount of fabric and filler material to make sheets, pillows and duvets. But because of that we have another significant part of the day to make healthier choices for ourselves and our kids.
There are plenty of lists of eco-friendly bedding to be found online, so we do not aim to provide an exhaustive one. However, there were a few brands that popped up time and again, so we shall highlight those in particular that were well received by ApartmentTherapy, EcoCult and others.
Boll and Branch
Boll and Branch, a brand that is familiar to many podcast listeners due to their partnership campaigns, is all organic and Fair Trade certified. The online-direct model makes for a less expensive end product, growing and manufacturing in India, with corporate headquarters in New Jersey. Boll and Branch has extended its offerings to towels, throw blankets and bathrobes. They also contribute a portion of purchase to organizations that fight human trafficking.
With a more luxury-oriented aesthetic, California-based Coyuchi is also made in India at GOTS-certified facilities. They have several bedding collections made from cotton, flannel and linen, as well as bath and home linens, and much more - including some sleepwear and loungewear. They also have a “Coyuchi for Life” program, where you can subscribe to the company and receive new sheet sets every 6 months, year or 2 years for a discount, and customers return their used linens to be recycled or repurposed.
Also a luxury GOTS-certified brand, Portico opened in 1988 in New York City, and rebranded as a sustainable company in 2009. Their plant fibers come from India and Italy, and their facilities conserve water and use eco-friendly dyes. Their animal fibers come from Peruvian alpacas and the pillow filling is certified by the Responsible Down Standard. Portico’s offerings feature simple designs and keep their products strictly to sheets, pillows and blankets - except for a toiletry travel set.
From cute kids clothing to heavenly sheets and blankets, cotton takes us from morning through the night - and pillows are no exception. While it’s easy to see cotton being used as the cover, it can also be used as the filler too. Many of the most common pillow fillings are resource-intensive, with poly-fill and PET being fairly ubiquitous, and despite some of them being recyclable, they are still reliant on petrochemicals for their manufacture. Memory foam, though it creates what some might consider their favorite texture/firmness combination, is created from petroleum more often than plant oils, so it’s usually not a sustainable option either. Brands like Loom and Leaf do offer plant based memory foam in their mattresses, but for pillows this material seems pretty elusive.
If you want to avoid petro-products, and you want to skip the research necessary to guarantee humanely sourced bird down fillings, cotton and other plant-stuffed pillows are a great sustainable choice - and are less likely to trigger allergies. Organic cotton is a great option, but there are eco-friendly bamboo, buckwheat and other fiber fillings to choose from - even eucalyptus fiber.
Keeping fossil fuels, inhumane or toxic chemicals away from us can seem like an uphill battle at times - ones we don’t feel like fighting when it’s time to go to bed. But there are many options to make the place that we spend one-third of our time (and an even higher ratio for babies!) healthier and more free from allergens. The shift doesn’t have to happen all at once, you can swap something out when your sheet set finally calls it quits or when the stuffing starts falling out of your comforter. But little by little, you can make your way to a cleaner, greener bedroom - in all senses of those words. It can take a little extra mental space, but it’s incredibly empowering.