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There are a lot of factors which go into choosing the perfect pillow. In an earlier article, we discussed different types of pillow fillings as well as their myriad shapes, sizes, functions and health benefits. (Check it out here!) Today, we're going to expand on that a little bit and discuss another quality which might affect your choice of pillow: whether or not it is organic.
"Organic" is a term which means "all-natural, made from only ingredients which occur in the natural world, not containing chemical or man-made substances". Organic goods are generally popular due to being manufactured in an environmentally friendly manner using sustainable ingredients. Organic goods are also significantly less likely to contain harmful substances such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or ozone depleters, although they may in some circumstances contain common allergens. These pillows are nontoxic, chemical free and qualify for any number of various environmental health certifications, including those developed by the GreenGuard Institute. (Head over here to read about GreenGuard and how it sets healthy mattresses and pillows away from the rest!) Many organic pillows are also vegetarian or vegan friendly, although some are not.
Today, many pillows are marketed by their manufacturers as "fully organic" or "100% all-natural!" However, in many cases, this marketing is in fact merely a strategy used to mislead customers. In order to be considered organic, a pillow must be made ENTIRELY from qualifying natural goods. This includes both the interior stuffing and the exterior fabric cover. Many of these so-called organic pillows are actually being falsely marketed as such, and consist of an organic cover (usually made from cotton or bamboo) paired with a non-organic, entirely synthetic interior stuffing (typically polyurethane or styrene foam).
(It is important to note that a pillow can still be considered organic if it is made from multiple different naturally occurring materials. For example, a pillow with a cotton cover and latex stuffing is entirely organic. It is only when non-natural, manmade ingredients begin to appear that the pillow loses its organic status.)
Here at Brand Name, we are dedicated to combating such false marketing and advertising. We believe that our nature-conscious customers deserve only the best in organic pillows, mattresses and other home and bedroom goods. Therefore, we've prepared this helpful guide which outlines different types of organic pillow materials and the many, many health and environmental benefits which they provide!
In general, any material which can be found in the natural world is considered to be organic. When it comes to pillow covers and stuffings, there are a number of organic options. An organic cover might be made from cotton, wool or bamboo, while an organic interior could also be cotton but could alternately contain buckwheat, down or other feathers, or natural latex. (As a clarification, "down" is a specific type of feather which is taken from the chest or back of a duck or goose. Down pillows are considered to be softer but also more expensive than those stuffed with standard feathers, so they are typically marketed as a separate product.)
However, you do have to be careful when shopping for a pillow. Scientists and manufacturers have successfully produced artificial, man-made versions of many of these naturally occurring organic materials. For example, synthetic latex has grown in popularity over the years despite its many negative qualities when compared to its natural counterpart. Feathers or down have also been successfully lab-made and produced successfully, but the resulting imitations are typically sharper, more brittle and less comfortable than the originals.
It is important to note that, while all of these materials are organic and nontoxic, not all of them are considered vegan or completely hypoallergenic. Wool, down and feathers are harvested from animals (sheep and birds respectively) and thus are usually avoided by strict or ethical-type vegans who wish to avoid all animal products completely. Feathers are also a potential allergen which may provoke a reaction in some sleepers. While latex is also an allergen, the manufacturing process of latex pillows (as well as blankets and mattresses!) typically renders the resulting product hypoallergenic as the proteins triggering the allergic reaction are heated and removed.
So now that we've explained what it means for a pillow to be organic, the question remains - why? Why choose to purchase an organic pillow over one of the various synthetic options? Typically, synthetic or man-made pillows can be purchased at a much cheaper price than those made from 100% all-natural materials.
However, we firmly believe that the benefits of an organic pillow justify the price, while the drawbacks of a synthetic one completely override the minimal benefits of cost, availability and ease of purchase. All-natural pillows are completely safe and healthy to use, while not harming the environment in any way. On the other hand, synthetic pillows often contain harmful chemicals which negatively affect both the health of sleepers and the air quality of the surrounding atmosphere.
First and foremost, organic pillows do not contain any harmful chemicals. This means both that the pillows have not been treated with harmful chemicals - such as flame retardants, insect repellents, or even harsh fabric softeners - and that no harmful chemicals or other hazardous materials have been used at any point during the manufacturing process.
What does this mean for sleepers? Many of the chemicals mentioned above have extremely low boiling points, meaning that they transform from a solid or liquid state into a gaseous one at room temperature. This means that , if your pillow has been treated with a chemical flame retardant, you might find yourself inhaling harmful chemicals all night as you sleep. Plus, your body spends approximately 6-8 hours in contact with your pillow, giving chemicals plenty of chances to do damage to your skin, eyes, hair and even internal organs such as your lungs, kidney and liver. The only way to be truly sure that your pillow is not dripping with these dangerous compounds and substances is to choose something completely organic.
However, organic pillows also have many benefits above and beyond simply "not containing dangerous chemicals". They are harvested and manufactured using environmentally friendly, sustainable processes. As Earth's population grows and we consume more and more resources with each passing year, it is important to focus on conservation and making sure that these resources will still be around for the generations that follow us. Harvesting wool from sheep, picking cotton or tapping natural latex from the rubber tree can all be carried out without causing any disruption to the plant or animal's natural life cycle. In particular, rubber trees which are tapped for latex will still live for several decades, and, even when their lifespan ends, can be used as fuel or in the manufacture of sturdy, durable furniture. (For more information, see our guide to latex harvesting here.)
Organic pillows are also extremely soft and comfortable to use. Cotton and down are generally considered to be the softest pillow stuffings currently available for purchase. Both are also lightweight and easy to transport, carry or move. They are extremely breathable, allowing air to pass through them and keeping sleepers cool throughout the night. (Contrast this to many synthetic materials, which instead retain hot air and can cause sleepers to overheat.) They are also both more durable and longer-lasting than most synthetic materials, with the possible exception of the prohibitively expensive memory foam.
Natural latex, generally considered to be the best and highest quality organic material, combines that same softness, comfort and breathability with firm support and even greater durability. An organic latex pillow will support your head and neck, keeping it in a neutral, comfortable position and preventing muscle strain or cramp during the night for even the most restless of sleepers. It will also keep your hips stable and your spine in alignment. Sufferers of chronic neck, shoulder or back pain report a significant decrease in discomfort during the night while sleeping on a natural latex pillow. Organic pillows don't just benefit the health of the environment - they benefit YOUR health at exactly the same time!
On the other hand, synthetic pillow fabrics and stuffings possess almost none of the benefits listed above. In many ways, synthetic materials possess negative properties which are the exact opposite of everything discussed in the previous section. Synthetic pillows may be cheaper and easier to find than organic ones, but is it truly worth it? We definitely don't think so!
Synthetic materials are made almost entirely of various chemicals, and are treated with additional ones during the manufacturing process. For example, natural latex is inherently resistant to bacteria, mold, mildew and all types of nasty mites and insects, due to its role as a protective substance preventing such irritants from attacking rubber trees in the wild. Lab-made synthetic latex was never designed to fulfill such a protective function and, as a result, does not possess any of these inherent resistances.
Therefore, they must be treated with artificial repellents. However, these are almost always made from extremely harsh chemicals which are not safe for human contact. For example, many insect repellents contain ozone depleters, which attack Earth's ozone layer and gradually destroy our only protection from the Sun's harsh rays and radiation. Others contain phthalates and formaldehyde, known carcinogens - yes, that's right, substances which have been proven to cause cancer in humans.
Even if you manage to avoid cancer, there are plenty of other negative effects which these hazardous chemicals can cause. They can trigger or worsen allergies, asthma, and other adverse reactions. You might experience shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and a host of other nasty symptoms. Extended contact with your bare skin (such as that caused simply by going to sleep!) can also cause rashes or itchy, irritated patches of skin to appear all over your body, including on sensitive areas such as your face and neck.
These chemicals "off-gas" into the atmosphere at room temperature, so you'll pretty much be breathing them in constantly whenever you're at home. Your house and bedroom are enclosed spaces, which just gives these gases even more of a chance to get into your lungs and start doing permanent damage. Why sacrifice your health like that? Why take the risk? Staying away from synthetic pillows is the only answer!
If that weren't enough, synthetic pillows are also heavy, dense, bulky, and in general a lot less comfortable than their natural counterparts. Memory foam and synthetic latex are also known to trap heat, meaning that your pillow will gradually heat up as you sleep and cause the temperature in your bedroom to become uncomfortably hot. That doesn't sound like a very pleasant or beneficial sleeping environment, does it? The "sleep hot" phenomenon is very real and prevents many unfortunate individuals from getting the 8 hours of nightly uninterrupted rest that they deserve.
Clearly, organic pillows are superior to synthetic ones. They're safe, healthy, and don't damage the environment and atmosphere simply by lying there on your bed. But when it comes to choosing the best out of the available organic materials, there's one clear winner: [Brand Name's] one of a kind naturally harvested and produced latex. Combining support and durability with softness and comfort, our latex pillows truly offer something for everyone.
Not to mention, purchasing one is now easier and more affordable than ever. We offer tons of amazing sales and deals, and our purchase system is straightforward and our catalog a breeze to navigate. Your ideal night's sleep is waiting for you, and it's just a few clicks away!
So why wait? Say "no" to harmful, hazardous synthetic pillows and commit today to organic, all-natural, safe, environmentally friendly alternatives. Head over to Brand Name's extensive catalog today and pick out your perfect pillow from among our many irresistable options! Not only your body and brain, but the entire planet Earth will thank you for it!