Sustainable Bed Linens 101

Holy moly, shopping for bed sheets is no easy task.  Like many things in life, retailers are always looking for ways to improve and embellish a product…to the detriment of your wallet.  Sheets are no exception. There’s always been the basic factors to consider.  A sheet’s thread count, as we all know by now, refers to the number of horizontal and vertical threads per square inch.  As a rule of thumb, the higher the thread count – the softer the sheets, and the longer their shelf life.  While some thread counts now exceed 1000, you should generally look for sheets within the 250-800 range.

Yarn count refers to the thickness of the threads.  Typically reserved for men’s suiting reference, sheet yarn counts should be in the 40-100 range.   Long Staple means that the fibers used are long.  The longer the fiber, the softer and longer-lasting the sheet will be.  To qualify as long staple, the counts should be 1-1/8 – 1-1/4 inches long.

Beyond all of the counts, it’s time to consider weave – this refers to the direction the threads are.  The gold standard is percale – look for this when possible.  This weave results in a crisp and cool feel.  Another great option is sateen – which is a softer, warmer feel.  Summer sheets and winter sheets, perhaps?  In my dreams….

So much to consider, and so many new materials to analyze.  Fair Trade, organic, chemical-free, sustainable…these are buzzwords usually associated with coffee, produce, and fish, but not necessarily bed sheets.

Not anymore…add these concerns to your list of things to worry about.  If you would like to support politically correct sheets and be ethical even while you sleep, turn to the internet for sourcing.  Typically these types of linens cut out the middleman and are not sold in stores.

Boll and Branch boldly and confidently declares that theirs are the “Most Comfortable Sheets You’ll Ever Sleep On.”  With a queen sheet set price tag of $240, this claim had better be the truth!  What makes these sheets stand out from the rest?  100% organic cotton, Single ply, long staple thread. A soft, silky feel.  The price tag also ensures that these sheets are sustainably sourced and ethically made.

Brooklinen is a Kickstarter success story, perhaps due to the sheer simplicity of their product.  Reviewers claim that they stay crisp and cozy year after year, and that they are the most comfortable sheets ever.  Added bonus – Brooklinen labels the “short end” and “long end” on their sheets, so making up your bed is much easier.

Bedding manufacturer Coyuchi touts an interesting concept with its “Coyuchi For Life” line. Noting that 10 million tons of textile waste end up in landfills each year, this company has designed a bedding/towel subscription program, which allows you to upcycle your linens (sheets and towels) which are past their prime, and receive fresh, new ones on a 6 to 24 month basis.

Sol Organix offers a more affordable route to smart sheets.  A set of queen sheets starts at $159.  And all of their sheets are sustainable, with no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.  They are organic, with formaldehyde or toxic chemicals. They utilize fair trade, transparent employment practices.  For a bit less.  Report back and let us know what your favorite sheets are, and why.

images via brookhaven, bollandbranch, solorganix

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