I never was much of an environmentalist. In fact, in my university days (back in the ‘90s…sigh), I admit that I even littered on occasion. Some of my more progressive friends were in planet-saving mode, and while I respected their point of view, I certainly didn’t share it.
I was just ignorant. I did a lot more partying than reading, and I knew little about the why of the green movement, and – admittedly – tuned out the chatter about it.
Fast forward to my child-bearing years. Bringing children into this world changed me (you’ve heard this before, or experienced it yourself, I’m sure). I wanted to help this planet in a way I never had before, and I wanted to give my kids the healthiest upbringing I could.
Don’t get me wrong: I am not entirely green-washed. I do what I can within the limitations of time and money. I use my green bin. I recycle properly. I sell or donate old clothes and appliances instead of sending them to landfills. And I try to provide organic options for my family when it comes to food and bedding. But I will buy non-organic pears if the organic ones aren’t available or look yucky.
Once I learned about off-gassing and bought The K Man’s organic crib mattress, there was no stopping me. I figured that if we spend more time in bed than anywhere else, that should be one of the most important places we went organic. Between organic mattress pads and organic cotton or bamboo sheets, I hope to prevent my kids from inhaling toxic chemicals all night.
If you’ve never slept on organic bedding, you’ll quickly discover that – enviro-friendliness aside – it’s one of the softest sleeps you’ll ever have. That’s because the fibres are longer in organic fabrics. And if you or your kids suffer from allergies or eczema, organic bedding may be a huge boon to keeping allergens at bay.
The K Man had never asked for a pillow – until last Christmas. He was in our bedroom, all snuggled up with a small decorative pillow on my (rarely-made) bed. It was just his size. He asked if he could sleep with what he’d named “Baby Pillow.” Aside from it being non-organic, it’s pretty high-loft and The K Man is a tummy-sleeper. Not a great combo.
He carted Baby Pillow around the house for days, snuggling with it whenever he was chilling in front of the TV. Big B and I decided we’d get him a Baby Pillow of his own for Christmas.
Naturally (no pun intended), I started looking into the organic options: cotton and wool came up most often in my Google searches. Review after review echoed that neither are machine-washable and both get lumpy over time. The K Man had already thrown up in his crib twice in his life; I need to be able to throw EVERYTHING into the wash.
Then I came upon rubber pillows. Ugh, I though. Rubber? That doesn’t sound remotely comfortable. All I could picture was a pillowcase over a flattened tire.
As it turns out, though, there are essentially two kinds of rubber (latex) pillows – those that are one slab of rubber and those that are shredded rubber. The latter was purported to be a down-filled pillow alternative.
Maybe I’m a complete moron, but I didn’t know rubber came from trees. And, like anything that comes from nature, harvesting is part of the manufacturing process. More research uncovered that there are two methods for harvesting rubber: Dunlop and Talalay. The Dunlop process has been around since 1929 and results in a slightly firmer latex, whereas the newer Talalay method – which is more labour-intensive and also more expensive than Dunlop – offers a bit more softness. There’s marketing backing each, of course, but Dunlop is generally considered the more eco-friendly process.
Ultimately, I found a company that I really liked called Organic Lifestyle. It’s a Canadian company and the shredded rubber pillow (a) came in a toddler size and is (b) made in Canada (although the rubber itself is sourced fair trade-style in Malaysia). Its environmental commitment is remarkable and there was free shipping. I had also determined through my research that the Dunlop method was the one that I supported, and Organic Lifestyle does too.
Regardless of the processing method you favour, what I like most about the shredded rubber pillow is that it can be machine washed. It’s also antibacterial, hypoallergenic and dust-mite repellent.
When New Baby Pillow arrived, I immediately unboxed it and tried it out. I couldn’t believe how soft it was. Disgustingly, and against my own advice, I’ve been sleeping on the same down pillow since I was a kid – I just haven’t been happy with any other pillow I’ve tried. But I’m telling you, the next time I have a spare C-note, I’m investing in a shredded rubber pillow to replace my down-filled one. I’m a side and stomach sleeper and no matter which way I turned, the pillow was malleable enough to support my neck comfortably.
The pillow comes with a removable heavy-duty organic cotton cover. It washes really well – with no shrinkage.
Shredded rubber reminds me of sheep’s wool (you know, the stuff inside your Uggs) – it’s temperature-regulating, keeping you neither too warm nor too cold. I don’t know about you, but in the summer, I am forever turning over my pillow to find a cool spot.
It doesn’t smell. I’m not sure why, but part of me worried that the pillow was going to emit that characteristic rubber odour. It doesn’t. In fact, it doesn’t smell like anything at all.
The K Man’s been sleeping on his pillow for more than three months and there’s been no clumping or shifting of the little pieces of rubber. It’s still as even as the day it arrived.
Finally, if you’re into greenification, you’ll be glad to know that natural rubber is a renewable resource.
It’s not so much a gaffe as it is the reality that natural products cost more. Organic Lifestyle’s shredded rubber pillow is no different. You get what you pay for, and at $54.50 for the toddler-size pillow, you’re talking 14 cents per night over the course of the first year for safe sleep. But, understandably, this might seem like a lavish expense to a cash-strapped family.
Although it comes with an organic cover, it’s really intended to be more of a liner than a pillowcase, so you still need to purchase a pillowcase separately – this is about another $20-40, depending where you buy it. I would love to see companies like Organic Lifestyle create a “pillow package” that discounts the purchase of the pillow when you buy it with the pillowcase.
So…where can you buy it?
Did you give your child a pillow or did s/he ask for one? At what age?