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Get Cozy with Responsibly-Made Bedding

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The terms responsibly-made bedding and eco-friendly bedding refer to both the process of making the items and what they're made of. Knowing the origins of your sheets, pillows down comforters and more can help you get a better night's sleep.


It's enough to keep you awake at night: Global temperatures continue to rise. NASA tracked 2020 as the warmest year on record, tied with 2016.


If you're tossing and turning about this, you're not alone. About two-thirds of Americans are at least somewhat worried about global warming, according to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.


Fortunately, there are actions you can take (other than lying awake worrying). Of course, no one little change is going to reverse global warming alone, but there are things you can do to help, and perhaps sleep better in the process.


Making eco-friendly choices belong in that category — and that includes your bedding. Responsibly-made bedding may help combat some of the factors that contribute to environmental pollution, both out in the world and in your bedroom.


To make wise shopping decisions, first, let's define what responsibly-made means when it comes to bedding.


What is responsibly-made Bedding?

Responsibly-made bedding choices include sheets as well as duvets, comforters and pillows — essentially anything that goes into making the top of your bed the comfy sanctuary that it is. When people talk about something being responsibly-made, it can refer to several different things:


How It's Made

Buying products from manufacturers who are using fewer natural resources such as fossil fuels and water to operate their facilities, and using renewable materials in the products themselves, can have a bigger impact than just one person taking shorter showers (but, by all means, continue to do that, too).


What It's Made From

Examples of materials that are biodegradable and responsibly-made include Lyocell and Cotton.


Lyocell: Lyocell is a rayon made by dissolving wood pulp, often from fast-growing eucalyptus trees that are responsibly forested. The pulp is processed into a liquid, which is then pressed into fibers that are woven together. It is biodegradable and compostable.


Cotton Supima: Not all cotton is the same. Supima, which is made from longer fibers, is more durable than products made from standard cotton fibers, and that's the ultimate in responsibly-made bedding…something you use longer and replace less often. Cotton is renewable and biodegradable. Look for cotton that is Made in Green certified, a process that evaluates both the materials and the actual facility in which it is produced (see more on certifications below).


Sheri Malman, a teacher in Nashville, Tennessee, bought responsibly-made sheets because she tries to do her part to lessen the toll her actions take on the environment. Responsibly-made bedding is one of the choices she makes, along with glass storage containers for leftovers and reusable shopping bags.


Eco-friendly materials: The move away from fibers such as polyester, nylon and acrylic, can have an environmental impact, too. These manmade fabrics shed tiny microfibers made from plastic that can be released into the wastewater supply every time you do laundry, and then eventually end up in the ocean.


While we often think of ocean pollution as the stuff we see, like the straw from our fast-food drink floating on top of the water, it is actually these tiny fibers. The International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates that 80% of all marine debris is plastic.


Most of the emphasis on eco-friendly bedding is on the product itself, but good stewards of the planet also look at what goes into making the packaging. Using a breathable reusable bag, for example, is a more responsible alternative than a vinyl package. Sleep Number made this change in 2016.


Who It Affects

For some, responsibly-made also looks at how those involved in production are treated in the process. Because many bedding products contain down, some look at the way in which ducks and geese are raised for feathers. Fair Trade practices, which assure that people have safe working conditions, can also be part of the responsibly-made category.


You Benefit, Along with Mother Earth


Responsibly-made bedding isn't just about helping the planet. It can also help you improve your sleep. Many natural fibers, like lyocell and cotton can wick away moisture while you sleep, helping you get more comfortable.


That was the experience of one online reviewer, @WMike who says the following about their Sleep Number Lyocell sheets, “These sheets are ultra soft! Not only are they soft but they also are much cooler than our previous sheets. I am a really hot sleeper, so anything that helps me stay cooler is a bonus!"


Finding foam in pillows and mattresses that has low VOC (volatile organic compound) and is made without certain flame retardants, formaldehyde and phthalates, are among the ways in which responsibly-made bedding can reduce your exposure to chemicals. Since you spend as much as one-third of your life sleeping, it stands to reason that healthier sleep choices can also lead to healthier lives.


Look for responsibly-made Labels

Because responsibly-made means different things to different people it can be hard to evaluate what actually is responsibly-made. Looking at ratings from agencies charged with assessing the processes of different manufacturers takes some of the guesswork out of it.


OEKO-TEX® consists of 18 independent institutes in Europe and Japan that test and evaluate claims in textile manufacturing. Look for two different OEKO-TEX® seals of approval:

  • The Standard 100 label means that every thread, button, and other accessories in something you buy has been tested for harmful substances and is considered harmless in human ecological terms.

  • The Made in Green by OEKO-TEX means it passed the Standard 100 tests and was manufactured using responsibly-made processes under environmentally friendly and socially responsible working conditions.


The Responsible Down Standard (RDS) aims to ensure that down and feathers come from animals that have not been subjected to unnecessary harm. The RDS incentivizes practices that respect the humane treatment of ducks and geese. Sleep Number® comforters and pillows comply with the RDS.


CertiPUR-US® specifically certifies flexible polyurethane foam, showing that it is low VOC and made without ozone depleters, specified flame retardants and specified heavy metals.


Doing better for others and reducing your chemical exposure, while regulating your temperature? That's sure to lead to a better night's rest.


Like diet and exercise, quality sleep has a profound impact on your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. Because no two people sleep the same, Sleep Number 360® smart beds, with SleepIQ® technology, sense your movements and automatically adjust firmness, comfort and support to keep you both sleeping comfortably and provide proven quality sleep. Find your Sleep Number® setting for your best possible night's sleep, and if you own a Sleep Number® bed, log in to your InnerCircle℠ Rewards account to see your exclusive offers, refer friends and more.



A Nashville-based freelance journalist, Margaret Littman's work has appeared in Real Simple, USA Today, AARP magazine, AAA World, Conde Nast Traveler, and Preservation, among others.

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