Your Eco-Bedding PrimerBed linens can be covered in chemicals—even formaldehyde—to keep them shiny and unwrinkled. Consider these alternatives.
Cotton production uses 16 percent of the world's insecticides, which can contaminate runoff and drinking water, so opt for organic cotton when you can. But if you want organic bedding, get used to wrinkles, warns Karyn Barsa, CEO of Coyuchi. "Anything wrinkle-free has added polyester or is coated with chemical reisn," she says. Also, skip superhigh thread counts: The thin threads may be strengthened with—you guessed it—more chemicals. Organic cotton, by contrast, simply softens over time, and generally lasts longer. I have a Coyuchi comforter cover I bought eight years ago that feels like a grown-up baby blanket.
"The benefit of bamboo is that it doesn't need to be irrigated," says Nancy Morgan, owner of Yala, which makes silky-smooth bamboo linens. But bamboo does have to be turned into fiber before it can be woven, which involves chemical additives. Yala is Oeko-Tex certified to be free of chemicals. Water used to wash out the chemicals is recycled (make sure the brand you're buying does the same).
There's only one natural material that sleeps warm and cool, wards off dust mites, and stays wonderfully fluffy: wool. A lot of wool is imported from New Zealand and Australia, and shipping creates a big carbon footprint, so I opted for a domestic producer with strong eco-standards. Holy Lamb Organics sources wool from regional farmers and has a zero-waste policy—right down to composting for the community garden. Their mattress pads and comforters are cozy and clean-smelling, straight from the box.
Smart Strategies for How to Live Green