Bamboo pillows have certainly caught the attention of those who wish to transition to a more environmentally conscious lifestyle. When we think of bamboo, we think of cuddly pandas and a plant with many possible uses. Bamboo grows incredibly fast and self-regenerates, which absolutely makes it sustainable if we’re strictly speaking about how bamboo naturally grows. However, people purchase bamboo pillows labeled as green and eco-friendly without fully knowing the manufacturing process behind the pillow.
Yes, bamboo is a wonderful resource, but only if it’s handled responsibly. It’s concerning to read articles that include lists of “eco-friendly and natural pillows” which in fact aren’t so natural at all. Savvy Rest does not carry bamboo pillows, and here’s why.
Have you noticed that the words “certified organic” aren’t present on bamboo pillow product pages when describing the bamboo itself? In order for bamboo to be considered certified organic, it would need to be grown and manufactured in a way that did not involve harmful chemicals. The vast majority of bamboo used for fabric (whether for pillows, sheets, clothing, etc.) goes through the viscose process. The viscose process could never pass any viable organic standard.
Patagonia, a company known for its dedication to the health of our planet, wrote specifically about the environmental consequences of turning bamboo into rayon. In the article, they describe how “the solvent used for the [viscose process] is carbon disulfide, a toxic chemical that is a known human reproductive hazard. It can endanger factory workers and pollute the environment via air emission and wastewater.”
Companies manufacture bamboo in this way because it creates a fabric that is soft to the touch and therefore more desirable for consumers. Certified organic bamboo would be much too rough.
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It’s also important to compare bamboo to the more popular cotton textile. While some farmers use pesticides, others are certified organic and choose to do things the natural way. Certified organic cotton is always a more sustainable and eco-friendly choice in comparison to bamboo. The manufacturing process of viscose rayon requires more overall energy–two times the energy when compared to cotton-based textiles. This is a fact that unfortunately isn’t mentioned very often, so consumers are left in the dark.
I’ve looked at several bamboo pillows online, and I’ve noticed that the language in their advertising can be misleading, with phrases such as “high-quality memory foam” and “designed in the US.” This type of language can draw people in, but it’s crucial to read between the lines.
A lot of bamboo pillows have memory foam as the fill. We firmly believe that there is no such thing as “high-quality memory foam,” because memory foam is not as safe, durable or comfortable as natural latex. Memory foam is just polyurethane and added chemicals. It is known for causing people to “sleep hot” since it retains your body heat. There’s no such thing as “high-quality canned cheese” because cheese does not belong in a spray can, just like memory foam does not belong in your bed. I’m sorry to give you the image of canned cheese, but I’m just trying to prove my point here. Think happy thoughts of the cheese section at Whole Foods and you’ll be okay.
I’ve also seen the words “designed in the United States” used when describing bamboo pillows. This is not the same as “made in the United States.” “Designed in the United States” simply means that the idea and design process began in the States, but then the actual work (such as sewing the pillowcases and stuffing the pillows) was sourced out to another country. Look out for “imported.”
While some of our pillow fills are not sourced in the United States (such as the organic kapok we use, which does not grow in America), the final product is sewn in Central Virginia. All of the fills we use are natural and never treated with toxic chemicals. We offer the purest materials that are meant to improve your quality of sleep.
Finally, bamboo pillow manufacturers love to advertise bamboo’s antibacterial properties. However, because of the chemically-filled viscose process, there is no concrete evidence to prove that this characteristic of bamboo is still present once the bamboo is turned into fabric. And don’t get me started on “hypoallergenic” since there aren’t strict standards when it comes to how a company uses that word in advertisements. It’s unfortunately just a vague label.
More Sustainable Options
At Savvy Rest, we aim to be as transparent and sustainable as possible. We list our certifications on our website and always source materials that are natural and organic. We carry several customizable pillows, which means that customers unzip the inner and outer certified organic cotton casings and take out as much of the fill as they want in order to achieve their desired pillow height. We only want our customers to touch materials that are safe and natural, not materials that are synthetic.
I hope this has been an informative read and that you choose to make the organic switch with one of our pillows.