The environmental impact of pillow production and options for eco-friendly pillows

Pillows should compliment your mattress to help create the perfect sleep environment, so you can wake up feeling rested and refreshed. And there is a pillow for everyone, whether you’re looking for the best pillows for snoring, orthopaedic pillows, or pillows to relieve certain aches and pains. There are even eco-friendly pillows so you can reduce your carbon footprint. Here is a rundown of some of the most commonly used materials in pillows, the effect they have on the environment, and a few sustainable alternatives to switch to.

Polyester Pillows

Did you know that many conventional pillows are made from polyester? So, you might be wondering what the repercussions of this are – whilst it’s a popular material for pillows to be made from, the way that the material itself is made can have a huge impact on the environment. Polyester is a relatively affordable material, which is why it’s common, but it’s also made from a non-renewable resource, and the manufacturing of these pillows takes up a lot of energy and therefore is not great for the environment.

Whilst these pillows may be cheap to make and do the job, it’s worth bearing in mind that this material is also packed with chemicals that can actually cause us harm if we inhale them regularly. As well as this, polyester generally is not breathable, meaning a pillow made from this material will not result in a great sleep experience. Polyester pillows can be an option if you’re on a budget, but it’s best to avoid them!

Memory foam pillows

A material that many of us will be familiar with is memory foam. We use it in mattresses for a supportive, contouring sleep, and it’s more recently becoming popular in pillows. These pillows can provide great support for your neck when you sleep, allowing you to wake up feeling refreshed. However, have you ever thought of the impact they have on the planet? Much like polyester pillows, the manufacturing process of these pillows is energy-intensive, and the compounds included in the material itself can cause harm to the environment. If you’re keen on having a memory foam pillow, you could look for the CertiPur-US logo, which means the pillow will have been produced in an eco-friendlier way, but it’s still not great for the planet.

Down and feather pillows

A more luxurious option than the previous two is down and feather pillows. It’s worth noting that there is a difference between the two. Down is harder to come by, and refers to the soft, fluffy coat that sits under a bird’s breast feathers. Feathers are easier to obtain, but because they have quills, they can poke through your pillow. Whether you choose a down or feather pillow, you’ll have to do a lot of fluffing to keep them at their best! Unfortunately, depending on how you source your feather or down pillows, they may have an impact on the environment. You should make sure that before you purchase one, you check that they have a Downmark logo which will help you to identify products that are a by-product of the meat industry and have not come from birds specifically reared for feathers.

Eco-friendly alternatives

So, as we’ve learned above, the most common types of pillows can have an impact on the environment, whether that’s with the materials they use to produce them, or the energy, choosing a pillow can be difficult if you’re trying to reduce your carbon footprint. Thankfully, there are eco-friendly alternatives that we can take advantage of, such as:

  • Latex: This material is not uncommon when it comes to mattresses, they provide one of the best sleep environments for firmness, support, and durability – and the same goes for pillows. Latex is renewable, and biodegradable, which means it will not release toxins into the environment, and most are sourced sustainably.You may need to pay a bit more, but it’s worth it.
  • Organic cotton: Organic is the keyword when it comes to this material, meaning it’s produced without the use of pesticides, or formaldehyde. This type of cotton is breathable, and perfect for those of us that sleep warm.
  • Wool: Another organic material, wool wicks away moisture and a pillow made from this fabric means you can stay warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. It’s perfect if you suffer from allergies, and it is said it can be the perfect sustainable choice for a side sleeper. Look for evidence on your pillow’s label that shows it’s free from additional toxins and uses wool that has been reared sustainably.
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