Nighttime is usually peaceful for most when you can lay your head down on that ultra-comfy pillow and catch some much needed Z’s. However, there are so many different kinds of pillows on the market that are made with various types of materials. Have you ever thought about just exact what your head is resting on at night? What chemicals and resources have been used during the manufacturing process to create your favorite pillow? Are there more eco-friendly options available?
Typically, the pillows we sleep on are made from cotton or polyester stuffed with other similar types of material. According to Zem Joaquin, a writer for The Huffington Post, “conventional cotton is extremely water, pesticide and herbicide intensive, yet the alternative - polyester - is a petroleum-based, nonrenewable resource that is very energy intensive, using 63% more energy than the production of cotton! The main toxic chemical in polyester is ethylene glycol, which gets absorbed by our bodies via inhalation and through our skin. It can damage kidneys and the central nervous system.” Wow! That was definitely not something I was expecting. Who thought that a simple pillow could actually have damaging effects on our body? Joaquin also addresses those ultra-plush memory foam pillows that have become extremely popular in recent years. Memory foam’s “polyurethane foam core can release VOCs (volatile organic compounds) into the air while you sleep. Additionally, the production and manufacturing of polyurethane also produces formaldehyde and benzene, which isn’t good for the factory workers or the environment.” Say no to memory foam, too? What now?
Thankfully, there are a number of environmentally friendly and chemical-free pillow options available on the market and you don’t have to sacrifice your comfort. The following list was compiled from Joaquin’s Huffington Post article and another insightful article from Chasing Green, which provides links to where each of these pillows can be purchased.
- Organic Cotton: For those of us who prefer “slightly heavier and firmer support, find pillows with organic cotton fill and fabrics that are unbleached, undyed, formaldehyde-free, and grown without pesticides.”
- Kapok: One of the most popular eco-friendly options available due to it being both good for the environment and cruelty-free for animals, “kapok is a vegetable-based fiber from the seed pods of the Kapok tree. Wild grown, the tree is naturally pest-free and thus, does not require pesticides. On top of being a lofty material, Kapok is hypoallergenic, water and mold resistant and quick drying.”
- Buckwheat Husks: If you’re one to try something different and outside-of-the-box, these types of pillows are stuffed with these “pesticide-free and hypoallergenic,” husks have actually been known to “help reduce stiff necks by providing proper support to the neck and head, and by molding to conform to the body.” However, they tend to be rather brittle in texture but maybe worth a try!
- Natural Latex: For those who prefer more squishy-type pillows, this might be a better option. Latex “is harvested by tapping the milk of the rubber tree, which is a rapidly renewable resource (the tree begins to regenerate in about an hour).”The more interesting fact about this option is that it has been known to provide more comfort to those suffering with Fibromyalgia.
- Natural Rubber: A good option for those with sensitive allergies and who suffer from “asthma or non-latex allergies because, like wool, it's naturally dust-resistant and hypoallergenic.” Even better is that this particular material is harvested sustainably.
- Organic Wool: These pillows are actually great for any season and are made from “fluffier, more breathable cushion” that is resistant to the average allergens. Being certified as organic means that the wool is “sheared or collected from organically raised sheep and is not treated with any toxic chemicals afterward.”
-Photo Credit: Alexandra D.
-Written by: Alexandra D. & Ashley L.