Many people who follow our blog here at Green Conscience have long ago recognized the benefits of investing in healthy, non-toxic bedding. Once you are committed to avoiding toxins in the bedroom, however, there is another step that too often goes unnoticed: the addition of natural fiber pillows, replacing a potentially chemical laden object upon which your head resides for one third of your time on this planet.
We may not all get as much rest as we'd like, of course, but one of the primary causes of poor sleep quality and duration can be the object you lay your head upon. A traditionally manufactured pillow is often subject to the same unfortunate limitations as synthetic bedding, awash in a host of compounds which are intended to retard the fabric's flammability, yet are just as dangerous in their own way. Pillows can also be a haven for dust mites, as we've recently discussed on this blog, contributing to a host of allergens and respiratory problems. Though there is some dispute about the impact of dust mites on typical bedding, over time a staggering percentage of the weight of your pillow can be associated with deceased mites and their bodily waste.
Natural fiber pillows safeguard against both of these drawbacks. While mites can be kept at bay with specially designed covers, it can be equally as effective to utilize a pillow made from a material that gives them no easy habitat. Mites require a humid and moist environment to survive, and while down pillows can provide them this, other fibers will have the opposite effect. In the case of flame retardants, some natural fibers evince their own inherent fire-prevention qualities, thereby negating the need for chemical treatments.
There are a variety of sustainable materials that can be properly purposed as bedding, or for the interior of a pillow. Of those, latex may be the most common, and it is found in many organic mattresses. When used in a pillow, latex exhibits the same qualities, which include a natural resistance to dust mites and flame. Shredded latex can be used by itself or in combination with wool, another highly flame-resistant fiber. Wool allows for better air circulation within the pillow, which can reduce the buildup of retained body heat. Either in combination with another fiber or alone, a latex pillow is both supportive and responsive. They are also customizable, and arrive intentionally overstuffed from the manufacturer so that the desired feel can be achieved.
Buckwheat hulls are another natural fiber that can be used in pillow stuffing, though they represent a different feel. Though it may take some getting used to, a buckwheat pillow is excellent for airflow, keeping your head cool at night. They also excel at support, as buckwheat hulls conform to your body, and can be used to alleviate aches and pains associated with nighttime discomfort. Some buckwheat pillows also use a wool outer lining, in order to muffle the "crunchy" sound that can sometimes be associated with them. Millet pillows are similar to buckwheat, while a "buckwool" pillow is made from wool on one side and buckwheat on the other, giving sleepers a clear choice each night, and the benefits of both fibers.
Organic wool and cotton have also been used on their own to fill pillows. As previously stated, wool is highly flame resistant, yet it also wicks away moisture, regulating the pillow's temperature. Wool pillows are resistant to mold and mildew, and can help insulate your head in the winter without overheating. Cotton, meanwhile, is soft and compresses over time. Possessing an organic outer casing, these pillows are also manufactured without dyes, perfumes, or formaldehyde, making them a much healthier alternative to synthetic fabrics. Our Savvy Rest Organic pillows are over stuffed and customizable so that you can create the perfect height and support.
For sleepers who prefer the feel of down, but find themselves either allergic to it, or concerned about the presence of dust mites, kapok is another viable option. A full eight times lighter than cotton, kapok is similar in feel to down, but it is made from a silky fiber which originates from tropical ceiba trees. Kapok offers minimal resistance to sleepers, which makes it an ideal choice for those who do not desire a firm pillow.
When it comes to natural fiber pillows, there is no shortage of available options on the market. For those of you who are interested in (or have already invested in) sustainable, chemical free bedding, it's almost a no-brainer to take into consideration the one thing that resides closest to your head every night.
Hi! I'm Karen Totino, owner of Green Conscience Home. I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of our posts, so comment away! One of my goals is to get the community discussing some of these eco topics, and hopefully help each other out!