Hey! Now that we’ve gotten your attention with our greenwash-y, SEO-friendly title (thanks, Google), you should know that while there’s no such thing as “eco-friendly” pillows, here’s what to be wise on when you’re shopping so you can pick the best option for you, the planet, and the people making your stuff.
You know what keeps us up at night? Unfair working conditions, harsh chemicals, and uncomfortable pillows. The average person spends ⅓ of their life with some portion of their face on a pillow — that’s a pretty serious relationship to have with something you don’t know that well. To find comfort without unintended harm to humans or animals can be like finding Waldo, but thanks to industry disruption, we think some pretty good solutions are here to stay.
WHAT TO BE WISE ON:
Beware of greenwashing when looking at pillows: the vast majority of them are still made from polyester, a mass-produced, petroleum-based, non-renewable resource. Pillows don’t have near as much of an impact as mattresses since they require fewer materials, less energy to ship, and are less likely to contain flame retardants, but your choices still matter. If you choose to buy down pillows, be sure they’re certified by the Global Traceable Down Standard or the Responsible Down Standard to ensure they aren’t made with live-plucked feathers.
THE FACTORS TO CONSIDER:
After reviewing all the options, we’re most keen on being face-to-face with kapok, buckwheat, rubber (natural latex), organic wool, organic cotton, and hemp.
Trigger warning: That cozy feather filling? Not so cozy for the geese that are plucked alive. While live-plucking has been outlawed in the U.S., it is still practiced in Hungary, Poland, and China, the world’s largest down producers. To ensure you are not buying pillows made with live-plucked down and feathers, choose those certified by the Global Traceable Down Standard or the Responsible Down Standard.
Pillows often come in big plastic bags that are tricky to recycle, so look for companies that sell them in craft boxes or rolled up and compressed without cumbersome plastic packaging.
Pillows typically last between 1-2 years if they’re taken care of properly and down pillows become more allergenic with age. Try the saddlebag or press test to see if it’s time for a new one. Most pillows can be cleaned in a washing machine using warm water on the gentle cycle, and should be cleaned around every six months. Has anyone else never washed their pillows? No judgment here.
A FEW TAKEAWAYS:
Pillows are not required to pass the Standard for the Flammability of Mattresses and Mattress Pads issued by the CPSC. That said, we believe chemical flame retardants still do more harm than good because they release VOCs and impact human health. Certifications like GOTS, Greenguard, and Eco-Institut go extra far here to ensure that the materials aren’t harmful to the environment.