Whether you’re drawn to designer bed linen in muted shades or don’t follow trends, many of us also want to sleep soundly knowing our sheets are less impactful on the planet.
In an effort to help you navigate the perfect set, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to sheets with the lowest environmental impact. Happy sheet shopping.
Cotton has long been the go-to natural fabric across homewares and fashion but organic cotton has become a popular alternative with the same smooth and durable feel. It’s a less thirsty crop, safer for workers and the environment, grown without the use of chemicals and GMO, and emits 46 per cent less CO2 than conventional cotton.
When selecting the perfect organic cotton bedsheets, don’t be put off by the thread count. There’s a misconception that the higher the thread count, the better, however the quality of the thread is what matters most. In fact, a sheet of a better-quality fibre with a lower thread count will feel softer and stand up to washing better than a sheet of a lower-quality fibre with a higher thread count.
Coyuchi were one of the first to bring organic cotton linens to the market almost 30 years ago. Their products are designed with intent using GOTS certified organic cotton, offer circular initiatives to keep their products out of landfill, and are committed to reusable packaging.
If you haven’t noticed, linen bedding has been on the scene for a few years now, tapping into our notion of a fuss-free yet elegant lifestyle. It looks best unironed and gently rumpled in soft neutral shades, effortlessly turning your bedroom into a sanctuary.
Linen is a natural textile made from the fibres of the flax plant. Its breathability helps to regulate body temperature, keeping you cool in summer (flax fibre absorbs up to 20 per cent of its weight in moisture) and warm in winter. It’s hypoallergenic and around two to three times stronger and more durable than cotton, meaning linen sheets last longer. They also don’t pill and are more resistant to stains, so you can wash them at lower temperatures than fabrics like cotton.
The flax plant requires little irrigation to grow, fewer resources to process and is grown free of fertilsers and pesticides. It also produces less waste, as different parts of the plant can be repurposed to produce other items.
You’ve probably come across In Bed whilst scrolling your social feed, well, in bed (ironic). Known for their interior expertise, In Bed’s range includes European Flax Certified Linen in heavenly hues.
Those searching for an even earth-friendlier and durable option to linen should consider hemp. A variety of the cannabis sativa plant which is one of the strongest and most durable organic fibres available today, hemp is also naturally hypoallergenic, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial, making it perfect for asthma and allergy sufferers.
Some consumers are sceptical about hemp’s comfort and softness. After all, no one likes a scratchy bed. But hemp is easily blended with other fibres such as linen and cotton to produce hemp-hybrid materials that have a soft and plush feel.
Fun fact: hemp absorbs five times more CO2 from the air than trees. Not only that, but the plant improves soil quality over time (unlike flax, which depletes it), and promotes biodiversity in the process. It also requires very little water and grows quickly, so it can be harvested up to three times a year.
Buffy create a great range of soft hemp linen for a chilled and comfy bed. The brand is committed to using sustainably-grown fibres and recycled fluff, and offset their CO2 emissions generated from freight and customer shipments.
Bamboo is widely regarded as one of the softest and most comfortable sheeting options. It’s also extremely breathable, as well being naturally hypoallergenic and anti-bacterial.
The bamboo plant is fast-growing, improves soil quality, produces more wood per acre than most standard trees and stores four times more CO2 (alongside releasing 35 per cent more oxygen). Unfortunately, not all bamboo is as ‘green’ as it’s made out to be and is typically made into viscose (also known as rayon), modal, lyocell, or linen fibre, which are all man-made to some degree (some of these are certainly not sustainable).
100 per cent bamboo lyocell (CleanBamboo™) is the best option for bamboo bedsheets. The raw bamboo pulp is dissolved using a non-toxic solvent, producing non-hazardous effluent. The fibre is created using a closed-loop system that recycles 98 per cent of the water used during fabrication. The result is bamboo lyocell fabric that is stronger and softer than bamboo rayon, free from harmful chemicals and requires less energy and water to produce.
Ettitude is the first and only company to make 100 per cent organic Bamboo Lyocell, or what they call CleanBamboo. Their 2020 impact report peels back the layers of their sustainable progress for the enquiring customer.
According to manufacturers, eucalyptus fibre is downy, resistant to irritants like dust and mould, is moisture wicking and naturally cooling. It also combats congestion, repels insects, and promotes relaxation. The main downside of eucalyptus is its cost, as it’s not as widely used and harvested as other crops.
Organically grown eucalyptus plants have an even smaller environmental impact than organically sourced cotton. A eucalyptus crop requires 10 times less water than cotton, and because eucalyptus is cut and not uprooted, it continues to grow next season without new planting.
However, while naturally organic, like bamboo, eucalyptus fibres are converted into a man-made material called lyocell, also known by the brand name Tencel. Native forests have been destroyed to introduce eucalyptus plantations so the key is to choose eucalyptus fabrics originating from sustainably-managed forests.
Eucalypso create bedsheets made from 100 per cent Tencel that feel like a cross between silk and cotton and are apparently better for people who have trouble sleeping.