NATIONAL REPORT—These days, sustainable manufacturing and consumerism are the most important things we can do to contribute to lessening our impact on global resources. We can help with this goal with every small decision we make, even down to our choices of bedding, by opting for eco-friendly bedding when we come to replace our existing bedding. But what should we be looking for in eco-friendly bedding?
Should We Choose Cotton or Other Fibers?
Cotton is somewhat the default when we choose our bedding. It’s hard-wearing, it stays cool, and it’s quite absorbent when it needs to be. The problem with cotton, in the context of eco-friendliness, is its impact on the environment. During the production of cotton, particularly during the farming of cotton, an incredibly high amount of pesticides are used. Some estimates put cotton farming at being responsible for more than 20 percent of the total pesticide use in the United States. The impact this level of pesticide use has on our arable land and water tables and supply is immeasurable.
That isn’t to say you can’t buy cotton bedding. There are organic cotton farmers and producers who don’t use these harmful pesticides, opting for organic options instead. The other option is to investigate other fibers entirely. Some of the more popular ones are bamboo fiber, wood fiber and newer blends of fibers which are also used in mattress manufacturing for mattresses made from plant-based memory foam.
Does Color Matter?
Does color matter to the environment? You might be surprised to learn that it absolutely does. Once again you should be looking towards making your bedding purchases to be free of chemicals and other sheet and bedding treatments. This might mean you’ll be making color choices of bedding in the pastel and muted tones. Many of the eco-friendly bedding options use these understated tones because they shy away from chemical-based dyes and processes.
Ideally, plain white bedding is the best choice. White bedding can be treated with a hydrogen peroxide-based bleach, which is better than the ammonia or chlorine-based options because they too are responsible for polluting water tables and other water sources.
Making Eco-friendly Laundry Choices
It’s not just the bedding that can make a marked difference to the environment. Washing and drying your bedding can involve harmful chemicals and indirectly produce greenhouse gasses by consuming a lot of power—particularly if you use a clothes dryer.
This means you’ll want to use an eco-friendly detergent—one that not only makes use of natural enzymes for the washing process but also uses natural oils or scents.
What About Recyclable Materials?
We probably use many things every day that are made from partially or completely recycled materials, but you’ve probably never considered that bedding can be one of those things. Consider how often you replace things like pillows—and how many pillows might be finding their way to landfills and becoming waste.
Many of these products are not recyclable and are destined for that fate, but increasingly manufacturers are offering either recyclable material from their bedding or an organic natural fiber that will have no trouble breaking down in landfills. Manufactured fibers don’t decompose very well, so they will end up being more waste in a landfill.
Making a difference in the world starts with the little things—like bedding and laundry. Make sure you buy bedding that is certified as being organic and supporting Fair Trade. You can look for other marks of eco-friendly production too, particularly the GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certification, which is the gold standard in the certification of organic textile products.