On the hunt for new bedding, one is presented with exhaustive (and exhausting) options. Sateen or jersey? Is there a difference between the 300- and 800-threadcount comforter? What is pima cotton? And how on earth can you choose a mattress after lying on it for five minutes at Sleepy's? Throw sustainability and organics in the mix and it's more confounding that ever.
And yet we spend a third of our lives sleeping, so there's a reason these can be hard decisions to make. It's also why we should all give a little more thought to chemicals involved in the production of our beds and linens. Cotton farming occupies only 3 percent of farm land, and yet accounts for about 25 percent of worldwide insecticides use and over 10 percent of pesticide use. To help break it down, it takes about a quarter pound of chemicals to produce one cotton T-shirt. So, think of all the chemicals going into a set of sheets and a blanket, and then consider these guidelines to make your bedroom shopping trip a little greener.
1. The next time you shop for sheets, go organic. Organic cotton farming leaves no chemical residue on the finished material, so they are safe for you to cuddle up in at night. This is good for the planet and for you.
2. Think outside the usual material. There are great natural fibers you can try like linen, silk, jersey, and flannel. Online shopping is great when it comes to bedding because of the great selection and with standard bed sizes, fit isn't a concern.
3. Be a little flexible with colors. Synthetic dyes offer a wide range of colors, but they are just that—synthetic. There is a range of colors offered in organic bedding, but they may not be as easy to find or as vast as the non-organic sheets you find in most stores. You can always get a little help from the internet. Or you can opt for a more neutral hue and spice up the room with paint or other colorful accessories.
4. If have a little Martha in you, make your own duvet cover or pillow cases. For the duvet cover, take two organic flat sheets or blankets and sew them together to create your own duvet for a fraction of the cost. All you need for the pillow cases is some great organic material from the fabric store and a simple pillow pattern.
5. When choosing a new mattress, do your research. Most conventional mattresses are chemical havens. They are often made with synthetic materials like polyester, a plastic that emits gasses, and then they are covered in formaldehyde-based finishes for stain resistant convenience. Many also contain a fire retardant, which is a whole other set of chemicals. So, opt for natural fibers. They are sometimes more expensive, but arguably a worthwhile investment that will last you a decade or longer.
6. Get a good pillow. Fortunately, there are several options in the eco-friendly department when it comes to pillows. If you prefer firm, look at organic cotton. For a bit of spring, try wool. If you are concerned with proper alignment, look at natural latex foam pillows. There are several more options out there one of which should suit your particular needs.
7. Buy a pillow protector. This may just seem like an extra pillowcase, but a pillow protector will extend the life of your pillow and help to relieve dust mite allergies. Extending the life of our products creates less waste.
Do you have any great natural-bedroom tips to share?