The Ultimate Guide to Eco-Bedding
There’s something supremely reassuring about climbing between the sheets at an eco-spa or a hotel and breathing a sigh of relief at bedding that feels cleaner and healthier, somehow, than ones you’d find on the shelves at a big-box store.
But this experience doesn’t have to be limited to a spa vacation. It’s never been more important to import that organic bedding experience into your bedroom at home. In fact, your health depends on it.
“We’ve known for years that the home environment is more polluted than the air outside,” says Lori Hannum, an interior designer and buyer at SC41 furniture, a sustainable store in Santa Cruz, CA. “If you think about all the chemicals in the average home—from paint, drywall and glue, to foams, carpeting and laminates—we need to do everything we can to make our homes a safe haven.”
Turns out, synthetic bedding and mattresses can be harmful to us, says John Vnuk, CEO of Wildridge Healthy Living, an organic wool bed and pillow company in Fort Collins, CO. “When you buy a synthetic mattress or pillow, what you’re getting is a chemical cocktail of unknown substances, including government-mandated fire-retardant chemicals to sleep on.”
Studies have shown that the chemical molecules within these fibers “off gas” or release harmful substances—similar to the new car smell you detect when you first drive a car off the dealer’s lot or unwrap a brand-new pillow or mattress.
“When you make your bed using conventional bedding, your comforter, mattress and pillow is emitting a chemical vapor all night long,” Vnuk says. “You may not smell it once the new smell fades, but it’s still being continually absorbed by your skin and lungs.”
Since we spend a third of our lives sleeping, shouldn’t that should be a purer experience? “When your body is sleeping, it shouldn’t be fighting off chemicals,” says David Anthony, spokesperson at Naturepedic, an organic mattress company in Chagrin Falls, OH. “After all, if your immune system is fighting off chemicals, it’s not repairing itself like it should.”
So what’s a bedding shopper to do? Read up on your products. “It’s really important to know what your bedding is made of,” says Marlon Pando, president of White Lotus Home, an organic bedding company in Highland Park, NJ.
A Solid Foundation
A healthy bed begins, of course, with your mattress. Seek out one with an organic cotton casing and all-natural untreated wool cushioning. Wool mattress pads are another item to consider since wool wicks away moisture and dries quickly, eliminating the need for a plastic mattress pad to keep your bed clean and dry.
Look for product labels that show the item is Oeko-Tex Standard 100-certified (an independent testing and certification system for textiles) and GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified, which means it must contain 95 percent organic fiber, can’t be treated with bleach, formaldehyde or other toxic substances, must be colored with nontoxic dyes, and must be produced in mills that enforce strict social and environmental standards, treating their employees with respect, Hannum says. “What’s great about wool-cushioned mattresses is that they’re naturally dust-mite resistant and act as a fire retardant, too,” Hannum says.
If you prefer a mattress with a foamy-feel, seek out one that’s made from natural latex (derived from rubber trees). Latex mattresses come in a variety of firmness levels and they’re great for remaining firm—ideal when couples share a bed but one of you is more restless than the other. “Latex is a very natural material,” Hannum says. “Even the additive to the liquid sap that solidifies it into a foam is non-toxic. It doesn’t off-gas and latex is antimicrobial, antibacterial and doesn’t harbor dust mites.”
In addition, seek out a mattress made of foam that’s CertiPUR-US-certified, says Sam Prochazka, CEO and co-founder of Novosbed, a memory foam mattress company in Canada. The CertiPUR program is a voluntary testing, analysis and certification program for the foam used in mattresses that ensures that the mattress is made without ozone depleters, flame retardants, mercury, lead and other heavy metals or formaldehyde. Buyer beware: “The bedding industry is full of marketing, gimmickry and fine print that often obscures the materials in its products,” he says.
A Linen Thing
Topping your bed with natural, organic linens, whether they’re organic cotton or silk, is another way to purify your space. “Organic linens will make your home environment feel cleaner, while also being good for the environment,” says Carmel Campos, owner of Loop Organic, an organic home goods company in New York.
Do some research to find out how the items were produced. “You want to seek out products that are made using no chemical baths or washing,” Vnuk adds.
Again, look for linens with Oeko-Tex and GOTS labeling and check that they’re made with organic cotton, as conventionally grown cotton uses some of the most pesticides by volume of any crop, Campos says.
Breathe Easy. These naturally scented home products will clear the air.
Spa Ritual Infinitely Loving Soy Candle Featuring a blend of pure essential oils and plant essences in a soy base, this beautiful jasmine-scented candle will sweeten your mood. $35; sparitual.com
Amala Aroma Apothecary Relax Lavender Room & Linen Mist Spritz on sheets or pillows for relaxation and de-stressing benefits. With Fair Trade lavender harvested from the south of France. $24; amalabeauty.com
A Bedding Primer
These companies are committed to producing organic bedding that’s
gorgeous and good for you.
Affina Features 100 percent organic combed cotton coverlets and sustainable shams that are Oeko-Tex Standard 100-certified. affinashop.com
Anna Sova Produces organically grown home goods, including duvet covers made from SKAL-certified organic cotton and natural silk duvet covers produced using fair labor practices and SKAL-approved dyes. annasova.com
Boll & Branch GOTS-certified and made of organic cotton grown in extremely poor areas of India. Everyone along the company’s supply chain is Fair Trade, which means they’re paid and treated fairly. An added plus: A portion of proceeds goes to Not For Sale, a non-profit committed to helping to end forced labor and human trafficking. bollandbranch.com
Coyuchi Organic bedding that blends natural colors with soft textures using fabrics such as organic cotton, pure linen and cozy wool. coyuchi.com
Gaiam A wide range of organic cotton and eco-friendly bedding, sourced from all over the world, all Oeko-Tex- and GOTS-certified. gaiam.com
Loop The organic bath linens are GOTS-certified, sweatshop free and made without harsh chemicals. looporganic.com
Novosbed This Canadian company features an innovative memory foam mattress and guarantees that all of its covers and linings are allergen and dust-mite resistant. novosbed.com
Plover Organic Made of only 100 percent organic cotton (from non-genetically engineered seeds grown in soil free of pesticides) and only low-impact fiber-reactive dyes. ploverorganic.com
Savvy Rest When this company started, it had a singular purpose: To provide customers with the finest natural latex mattresses with quilted casings made of organic cotton fabric with organic wool batting. The line has now diversified to include pillows, bedding and toppers. savvyrest.com
Under the Canopy Made with low-impact dyes and 100 percent certified organic cotton, the sheets, shams and coverlets feature prints and designs inspired by nature. underthecanopy.com
Wildridge Healthy Living Since the company opened in 1997, this line of pillows, comforters and mattress pads has always been non-toxic, chemical-free and organic. wildridgehealthyliving.com