Monday, January 30, 2017

Organic Pillows are Healthier for You and the Environment

Most all of us are concerned about our health. And many of us are concerned about the environment to some degree or another. I have recently thought about how my choice in pillows may be impacting both my health and the health of the earth. After reviewing some options, I am making the switch back to bedroom pillows that are better for my health and the environment. 

Why We Should Think About Our Pillow Choices

Recently, while passing by a dumpster, I spotted a large pile of pillows on top of the large pile of rubbish. I was struck by the amount of man-made trash laying in that one pile of textiles that was on the way to the dump. I wondered to myself how long it takes for pillow foam to break down at the landfill. 

In the process of looking up that information about foam in the landfills I learned that adding that bulk to the landfill may not be the only concern. Some of those synthetic materials may be released in my bedroom while I sleep for hours on end. Also, chemicals during the manufacturing process may be released into our environment.

I cannot comment on any of those things with any certainty. I can, however, let you know that I miss a goose down pillow that I had some time ago and have had an urge to replace it lately. That urge multiplied after doing some research about pillows in general.

Just a few of the chemicals that are reportedly present in our pillows and bedding are:

  • polyester - petroleum-based materials that contains ethylene glycol
  • memory foam - polyurethane (can release VOCs -volatile organic compounds)
  • synthetic latex - petrochemicals
  • wrinkle free textiles - contains formaldehyde
  • fire retardant materials - while it seems that we are moving away from fire retardant materials, exposure to fire retardant materials and the health results are being documented. It seems these chemicals enter our bodies and remain.

I will not go further into the chemicals present in synthetic pillows, wrinke-free materials, and flame retardant materials. These are huge topics with conflicting information and a textbook could be written about it all. You can research more on your own and narrow the research to meet your needs. 

Meanwhile, I will review a few organic pillow options.

Pillow Choices That Are Healthier for You and the Environment

Down Pillows

As a migraine sufferer, I believe that pillows can be a very important part of preventing migraines.  I do recall owning a down pillow that may have significantly reduced the number of my migraines. I had thought that I was more comfortable with how the pillow supported my neck. I had never considered, until now, that the natural materials could have been the factor that made the difference with my decreased migraines.  Unfortunately, that pillow is long gone.

A down pillow with an organic cotton cover may be a very good organic pillow option for you. 

Goose Feather and Down Pillow with 100% cotton fabric

Buckwheat Pillows

Buckwheat pillows seemed strange to me. But I had a roommate who wanted one so badly that I gave him one as a gift. He swore that the pillow was supportive and  extremely comfortable.  For the purposes of this article, I asked him recently if he still loves his natural Sobakawa Buckwheat pillow. He literally responded, "Love, love, love". 

Buckwheat pillows are made from buckwheat hulls and a cotton case. How much more organic than that can you get?
Sobakawa Buckwheat Pillow

Wool Pillow

Some pillows are stuffed with wool batting. I had not known that was an option and now that I'm aware of it, I think it is a great idea. I love wool socks. Wool blankets are warm - even when damp. Why wouldn't a pillow stuffed with wool be a good idea?  I think it is a great idea.

Holy Lamb Organics is a small manufacturing company that is focused on making "exceptional" bedding products with natural materials and "zero waste".   

Holy Lamb brand Woolly Pillow

Recognizing that organic pillows may not be for everyone

I am aware that natural fiber pillows may not be for everyone or every situation. Folks with allergies can have reactions to organic pillows and materials. I would not take a goose down pillow camping. I have a favorite camping and tiny house pillow that is made of chopped foam that is better suited to that situation. However, organic pillows may be a good choice for you and your home. You may want to make the switch as I am.  Every bit of health and environmental caution can help.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. This is a very thought-provoking review. I'll be honest, I just look for cushy comfort when it comes to buying pillows and hadn't given much thought to the health of either myself or our planet. Thanks for opening my eyes to the options and information to consider.

  2. I've always disliked foam pillows and use feather pillows. I wasn't aware of the 'chemical' problems of some pillow fills, so this was both a helpful and an educational review. Thanks, Dawn Rae.

  3. It is soooo hard to get just the right pillow! I never even considered how pillows effect the landfills, but now that you mention it, I easily see that it is a huge concern. I have yet to find a pillow that I love, love, love. The wool pillow you have featured appeals to me since the sheep are not harmed and are merely getting a hair cut :) I do see a new pillow in my near future! Thank you for the recommendations and comparisons.

  4. I like goose down pillows with organic covers so this was reinforcing why. Thanks!

  5. Wow!Great work Dawn.I had no idea that all of those chemicals were in our pillows. Now I'm going to check out my pillows to see what I have. I've been wanting one of those "My Pillow" that you see advertised on TV but now I'll have find out what they are made of. Thanks!

  6. I tossed my goose down pillow when it was 30 + years old. I figured it had done it's job. My other half went and bought memory foam pillows. I have never gotten used to the feel of them and still don't like them. I am looking for a new goose down pillow and I will have it for another 30+ years. I think I will have to leave it in my will for someone else to enjoy........

  7. I've never really paid attention to how pillow materials could influence my health. I've always just tried to find a pillow that is comfortable. I'm not even sure what my new latest pillow is made of. I guess I should find out. I have a neck problem, so sleeping position has been most important to me.


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