(Eco) Pillow Talk

Pillows I have known

by Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green

If you’re lucky, your head rests six to eight hours every night on a pillow. But what’s your pillow made of?

Knowing all your eco-options can help you rest easy.

Most pillows are made from synthetic materials like petroleum-based polyester. Go ahead, check the tags, I’ll wait…

Natural fabrics and fibres are better because they won’t off-gas. My pillow extended family includes down, kapok, buckwheat and organic wool.

Eco-pillow options I’ve drooled on:

Down pillows

Some down and feathers used to make pillows, comforters and jackets are harvested from live birds and birds that have been force fed. And some down pillows contain feathers sterilized with formaldehyde. (Feather Industries only uses biodegradable detergents to clean and disinfect feathers and down.)

My down pillow tag bears the Downmark® brand of The Down Association of Canada (a non-profit) and says “Down and feathers are normally harvested from goose and duck farms as a by-product of the poultry industry. Birds are not raised for their down, but rather for their meat — just as leather is a by-product of the beef industry.” “Live plucking” is considered less than humane and economically brainless. (Of course, these labels don’t say anything about sustainable or humanely raised fowl.)

Kapok pillows

Silky threads from the flower seeds of the kapok tree (Ceiba pentandra) can be harvested without chopping down the trees. These pillows are firmer than down or wool options. And apparently great for people who sleep on their backs! I found mine at Dream Designs.

Buckwheat pillows

Just like it sounds — full of buckwheat hulls! Usually these are made with a zipper hulls can be removed to adjust loftiness. Here’s an example of a Canadian retailer. (editor’s note – locally, you can find Buckwheat pillows at The Perfect Pillow in Carp).

Organic wool pillows

Naturally resistant to dust mites and mildew, this one was my favourite until I killed it in the laundry. It turns out they’re best spot-cleaned. Oops!

Eco-pillow options I haven’t tried:

Natural rubber pillows

Natural rubber is renewable and biodegradable — best for side sleepers?

Organic cotton pillows

Many pillows mentioned above come with organic cotton covers. But some pillows are made from 100 per cent organic cotton.

Which one will you try? Comment on our blog to win a natural rubber pillow and $100 gift card from Obasan and the book Ecoholic Body by Adria Vasil (draw date March 15th, 2014)!

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