Thankfully the mindless consumerism of recent decades is being replaced with a more conscious approach to buying goods. We all know that investing in quality supports the ‘buy well, buy less’ mantra and that is less is more, but do you know how to shop ethically and sustainably for your bed? We asked Tielle's very own ethical warrior, Catherine Morris, for advice on getting it right.
Questions to ask when buying bedding
What is the product made from?
When shopping for eco-friendly bedding there are alternatives to virgin down fills. Duvets and pillows made from recycled down, recycled plastic bottles and sustainable botanic fibres such as bamboo are growing in popularity. But are these products as green as they make out? Here's the lowdown on what you need to know.
Far from an eco buzzword, recycled down has been used as a bulking agent for bedding and clothing since before WW1. The growing recent demand for down in high-end clothing coupled with environment concerns has however created a fresh need to reuse this existing resource, diverting it from landfill.
As a by-product of this luxury market, the recycled down we use in our pillows and duvets comprises large down clusters. This makes the bedding luxuriously warm and light. The simpler processing needs of recycling down as opposed to virgin fills also involves less chemicals and energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. That said, recycled down is still sanitised to strict European standards before its second life.
While recycled bedding involves fewer production steps, recycled European down still holds its value. Quality down is a luxury product however, the fill weight and fill power of your down cluster will impact the price. The higher the fill power, the more luxurious the down cluster. Pure down duvets tend to be lighter than lower fill power, feather-rich items because of the large down cluster.
FeelGood® recycled down pillow
The Tielle FeelGood® range is made from NEOKDUN® Eco-friendly 100% recycled down - the most sustainable filling material you can buy.
Plastic bottles can be recycled into many things but recent innovations mean they can be made into high quality bedding fills. Leading fibre manufacturers such as Advansa create specialist fibres including Suprelle® Tencel® ECO Fresh clusters and DACRON® Comforel ECO made from recycling plastic bottles. Often these sustainably-made pillows and duvets are blended with other fibres such as Tencel wood pulp for luxurious comfort and feel.
Beyond helping to reduce ocean plastic (a typical pillow and duvet use about 20 and 40 plastic bottles respectively), buying a product with the Suprelle® Tencel® ECO Fresh or DACRON® Comforel ECO label is proof that your product consists of premium fibres. It will also last longer than one made from cheap imported hollowfibre or microfibre.
Check: Look for accreditations such as the EU Ecolabel and the Global Recycling Standard for assurance that your product is genuinely green.
How is the product made?
In addition to the quality of your duvet or pillow’s fill, the way it’s made will affect its lifespan, impacting its sustainable creds. A high-quality casing will keep your pillows and duvets cosy, comfortable and cleaner for longer. It also helps to prevent the filling from shedding which can weaken a duvet or pillow’s ability to keep you warm at night. Tielle eco-friendly bedding is hand-filled using state-of-the-art precision machinery. This process helps to eliminate waste and ensure the soft, fluffy down filling in your recycled duvet is evenly spread.
Check: Look for high quality casing and a duvet made from a baffle box or pocket construction as this is likely to provide lasting luxury for longer.
Where is the product shipped from?
While air freight is faster, ocean shipping has a far lower carbon footprint. Importing locally and in full container loads can therefore contribute to a company’s environmental performance. In many cases it also makes it easier to maintain quality standards and transparency in the supply chain.
All Tielle pillows and duvets are filled to order in the UK using the finest materials, rather than being made abroad.
Check: Where is the bedding made? You can usually find out how a company is reducing their carbon footprint on their sustainability page.
Is the product and its packaging recyclable?
While quality bedding lasts for longer there will inevitably come a time to say goodbye. While the first port of call should always be textile recycle banks, down and cotton are biodegradable, so if they do end up in landfill they will eventually break down.
When it comes to packaging, single use and non-recyclable plastics are a no-no for any responsible brand. Tielle pillows and duvets are packaged in perfectly sized recyclable packaging and reusable storage bags to avoid unnecessary waste. Packaging waste within our ISO 14000 certified warehouse goes to recycling, not landfill.
Check: Look for the retailer’s ethics and sustainability statement to find their commitment to sustainable packaging.
How transparent is the company?
Although a brand may shout about its ethical fashion or bedding range, this doesn’t make it an ethical company if the rest of their products are damaging to the environment. A company that takes a genuinely sustainable or ethical stance will be only too happy to share their commitments with you.
Check: Don’t be fooled by greenwashing. Make sure any claims or phrases on the company’s website, e.g. ‘eco’, ‘sustainable’ or ‘green,’ are backed up with accreditations and/or scientific evidence.
What charities do they support?
The charities or initiatives a company supports will help you see if their values align with yours. Companies sincere about making a positive difference will typically share that information on their websites. At Tielle we proudly support a number of causes including the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) and the BCI global cotton sustainability programme. We also work with The Citizen Foundation (TCF), supporting the education of underprivileged children.
Catherine Morris is the Managing Director of Tradelinens, Tielle’s parent company. Catherine is a passionate ambassador of social responsibility and responsible sourcing. Her long list of achievements include helping the company become the first Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) trade linen member.