GREEN

5 Eco-Pillow Options For Greener, Healthier Sleep

05/31/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Do you know what's in bed with you? With their eyes shut to the eco options that abound, most Americans rest their heads on cotton or polyester pillows that are stuffed with down or poly-fill. Check out all of the ways you can cuddle up with friendlier bedfellows.

Conventional cotton is extremely water, pesticide and herbicide intensive, yet the alternative - polyester - is a petroleum-based, nonrenewable resource that is very energy intensive, using 63% more energy than the production of cotton! The main toxic chemical in polyester is ethylene glycol, which gets absorbed by our bodies via inhalation and through our skin. It can damage kidneys and the central nervous system - decidedly not the best thing for your beauty sleep! And while those memory foam pillows are all the rage these days, the polyurethane foam core can release VOCs (volatile organic compounds) into the air while you sleep. Additionally, the production and manufacturing of polyurethane also produces formaldehyde and benzene, which isn't good for the factory workers or the environment.

Thankfully there are a plethora of eco options available so you can rest easy. Start with what touches your skin, then go deeper...into the depths of your pillow.

1. Kapok: One of the most popular eco fillings available, Kapok is a vegetable-based fiber from the seed pods of the Kapok tree. Wild grown, the tree is naturally pest-free and thus, does not require pesticides. On top of being a lofty material, Kapok is hypoallergenic, water and mold resistant and quick drying.

2. Buckwheat Hulls: A byproduct of buckwheat milling, the hulls are naturally pesticide-free, hypoallergenic, and water resistant. For centuries, these hulls have been used in Asia to help relieve neck and shoulder pain and headaches. Buckwheat hulls are very resilient but you might have to get used to the "crunchy" feel.

3. Natural Latex: Latex is harvested by tapping the milk of the rubber tree, which is a rapidly renewable resource (the tree begins to regenerate in about an hour). Latex is superior to many other materials because it keeps its form and bounce yet will eventually biodegrade.

Ecofabulous pick: Essentia Comfort Pillow

4. Organic Cotton: Cotton alone is an inferior stuffing because it mats down, but in addition conventional cotton uses 25% of the world's pesticides and has a myriad of other health and environmental consequences.

Ecofabulous picks: Gaiam Organic Cotton Pillows

5. Wool: Wool is a great insulator since it keeps you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Plus, wool is naturally fire and water resistant, combats mold and mildew and is unappealing to dust mites. It is readily available in organic options - meaning that it's sheared or collected from organically raised sheep and is not treated with any toxic chemicals afterward.

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