What a difference good organic sheets make.
Perhaps I shouldn't tell you the best sheets, because I know you're busy. And when you have really good sheets, they make it hard to get out of bed in the morning. Yes, I will blame my recent tendency to hit the snooze button on all the lovely organic cotton sheets I've had the pleasure of testing out.
And there are plenty of companies to choose from these days. From cozy to classic, luxurious and basic, you're covered. But first, let me describe some terms that will help you choose the best sheets:
Staple: The length of the cotton fibers. The longer the staple, the better and more comfortable the sheets.
GOTS: Global Organic Textile Standard. The worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain. It's been around for 12 years, and version 5.0 was published on March 1st of this year, three years after the Version 4.0 was introduced.
Oeko-Tex: a worldwide consistent, independent testing and certification system for raw, semi-finished, and finished textile products at all processing levels, as well as accessory materials used. It takes account of important legal regulations, such as banned Azo colourants, formaldehyde, pentachlorophenol, cadmium, nickel, etc.; harmful chemicals, even if they are not yet legally regulated; European chemicals regulations; requirements from the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) regarding lead; and other environmentally relevant substance classes. Sheets fall in Oeko-Tex's Class II products, since we sleep in them, and are held to a high safety standard, second only to baby clothes.
The Textile Exchange: A global nonprofit organization that works to make the textile industry more sustainable. They identify and share best practices regarding farming, materials and processing to reduce the impact on the world’s water, soil, air and human population.
Forest Stewardship Council: Because some fabrics like rayon, modal, and Tencel are made from wood pulp, this certification means the raw material was sourced from a responsibly managed forest.
Better Cotton Initiative: Not as high of a standard as GOTS, but still represents a step up from conventional cotton, with education and guidelines to help farmers produce cotton more sustainably.
Responsible Down Standard: An independent, voluntary global standard and certification process that bans live plucking and force feeding of ducks and geese. (This does not mean no geese or ducks were slaughtered, just that they were treated humanely while alive.)
Direct to consumer: Only sells on own site, to cut out markup that comes from selling in department stores. Can save you $100 or more on sheets.
International Labor Organization: The UN's ILO brings together governments, employers and workers representatives of 187 member States, to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programs promoting decent work for all women and men.
(All the sheets with pictures are ones that I have personally tried and can review for you.)
Luxurious: Jefferson Lane*
I've reviewed these before, but I'll say again how much I enjoy them. They are made from 100% organic, long-staple cotton that is grown ethically in India. The bedding is made in a fair trade factory with eco-friendly dyes. The packaging is 100% recycled as well. They are direct-to-consumer. They also have a 45 day return policy, should you be unhappy with them. Oh, and you can get 15% off your order with the code ECOCULT.
They have a thread count of 300, with a silky, light texture and quality edging that makes these appropriate for a high end bedroom.
$150 to $165 for a full sheet set
Coyuchi has been around for 25 years, and has the most comprehensive collection of home textiles out of the bunch, including sheets, towels, pillows, duvets, quilts, pet beds, rugs, robes, shower curtains, and table linens. They rely on guidelines such as those set by the USDA National Organic Program, GOTS, Fair Trade USA, the Textile Exchange, and the International Labor Organization, to ensure the products are made to the most sustainable and ethical standards. Coyuchi supported the development of the Responsible Down Standard by Textile Exchange, and they continue to support the development of TE’s Responsible Wool Standard, which is designed to be a global standard that protects animal welfare, influences best practices, ensures traceability, and gives consumers clear and trustworthy information For the packaging, they choose environmentally friendly materials such as biodegradable poly bags, recycled paper and cardboard, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper and cardboard, and organic cotton bags. They have long lasting relationships with suppliers – many of them are small- to medium-size family-run companies – who use sustainable manufacturing practices, like water recycling, renewable energy, and reduced waste, and who actively engage their communities.
We have a set of jersey sheets from Coyuchi, and they are like sleeping on a cloud – I attribute at least one of our rave AirBnB reviews to this set of sheets! We also have a pair of pillows and a set of pillow covers.
$158 - $498 for a full/queen sheet set
Classic: Syona Home*
I had the pleasure of talking directly with the co-founder of Syona, who started his company in response to the wave of farmer suicides in India. He's of Indian heritage, and his passion for giving back to his country shines through. The GOTS-certified cotton is from Chetna Organic, a farmers’ association that focuses on sustainability for its members. In addition to using natural seeds, natural fertilizers, and natural means of pest control, Chetna Organic taps into local resources and uses sustainable financing to achieve food security and seed sovereignty. With more than 35,000 farmers in its ranks and growing, their model minimizes the risk to farmers of variable credit markets and temperamental weather. The sheets are dyed with eco-friendly dyes. Plus, 15% of the gross margin of Syona's bedding goes directly to Charity: Water and Smile Foundation. This is also a Fair Trade certified and direct-to-consumer brand, to keep the cost down.
These sheets are classic in style and handfeel, with high quality edging and subtle but pretty stitching. I like the extra long pillowcases, which give them a more luxurious air. Definitely grown up sheets!
$189 - 269 for a sheet set. Use code ECOCULT35 for $35 off on any sheet set/duvet set.
This startup (you may have seen their advertisements around NYC) has sheets that are 100% organic, long-staple cotton and Oeko-Tex certified. They are direct to consumer, to keep the cost down. Plus, the manufacturing facility in Israel where they are produced is 60% powered by bio-fuel from landfills.
These sheets are comfortable, but style wise I found theme to be the most basic of all the ones I tried, with edge stitching that was so plain to the point of feeling like starter sheets for someone right out of college.
$109 - $149
Under the Canopy makes bed linens and towels, whose certifications includes GOTS, Oeko-Tex, Fair Trade, Forest Stewardship Council, and Cradle-to-Cradle. When they can't use organic textiles, they used polyester down alternative made from recycled PET bottles – a great choice for vegans! And they are incredibly affordable compared to your other organic choices. The price made my suspicious, but the brand actually got back to me with reasons why: UTC's supply chain is vertically integrated from the source, so that they can cut out many of the incremental costs associated with production that other brands outsource. For example, they save on duty costs, they can batch goods themselves and have a distribution center in Florida. They have a lower thread count, which brings the cost down. "A general misconception in the market is that ‘high thread count means better quality'. Brands that opt for higher thread counts are just using more thread, and therefore driving their costs up. In fact, many of the nicest sheets in the luxury market sit in the 250 – 350 range. Our current sheet is a 200 TC percale and provides a crisp, cool hand. We will be unveiling a 300 TC in both percale and sateen in the coming months to provide a softer hand for those who desire a silky sheet. In short: we use less fiber, so we cost less." Finally, they buy the organic cotton in bulk as part of a buying cooperative, which allows for cost-savings to provide premium financial support directly to the farmers.
$60 for a queen sheet set
Started by a luxury hotel bedding company, Living Fresh sheets are made with Tencel+Plus™, fibers from Eucalyptus trees blended with certified BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) Cotton. To process eucalyptus, only one non-toxic chemical is needed (unlike bamboo, which often uses heavy chemical processing). The eucalyptus tree requires no irrigation, farming, or pesticides, and grows to full maturity in only 10 years. Only 10% is cut down while being replanted. The sheets are 310 thread count, and absorb moisture and release it away from the body, creating a dry and cool sleeping atmosphere. The materials are from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests. They are the only linens that carry the designation of USDA Bio preferred under the USDA Biobased Certification program, which certifies that hte product is composed in whole or in significant part of biological products, including renewable agricultural materials, (including plant, animal and aquatic materials), forestry materials or an intermediate ingredient.
$130 for a full sheet set
Parachute's bedding is manufactured by artisans who have been weaving world class linens for over 80 years. The Percale and Sateen fabrics are made of the finest long-staple Egyptian cotton and spun in one of Tuscany’s world renowned mills. The Linen line is produced in the Guimarães region in northern Portugal, where textile production has thrived since the 18th century. The sheets are Oeko-Tex and Responsible Down Standard certified. For every Venice Set sold, they send one life-saving malaria prevention bed net to people in need through Nothing But Nets, a global, grassroots campaign created by the United Nations Foundation to prevent malaria.
$89 - $149 for a full sheet set
This direct-to-consumer sells 00% organic cotton, Fair Trade certified sheets and towels. The sateen and towel products are made with sustainable practices in India by people who earn respect and fair wages for their work, while the flannel products are made sustainably in Portugal by expert artisans, and the cotton used to create flannel originates from Turkey. Their white gift boxes are made up of 80% recycled material, without the use of laminations that prevent conventional boxes from being recycled. The boxes are produced in a socially and environmentally focused factory, which is SA8000 certified, an accreditation for social accountability in the workplace.
$200 - $275 for a sheet set
In 2009, this three-decades-old bedding company started using sustainable fibers like GOTS-certified cotton, alpaca yarn, and responsibly sourced down.
$150 - $270
Beyond Conscious Consumption
You should absolutely choose certified organic sheets for your own health, or at least Oeco-Tex certified, so that you don't roll around in toxic chemicals. Choosing organic also means that you're supporting in a small way the spread of organic cotton farming practices, and proving that consumers will pay more for cotton that doesn't require pesticides.
But don't forget to turn your gaze outward to how you can actively make the world a better place, instead of just buying organic sheets. You could donate to Beyond Pesticides, a nonprofit working to move the world away from pesticide use. Or you could donate to Greenpeace, which has been working on some great campaigns to rid the textile manufacturing process of chemicals.
*I received a set of these free for review