8 Eco-Friendly Pillows for Healthier Sleep
This post about eco-friendly pillows was originally published in 2018 but updated in October 2021.
Do you wake up throughout the night, tossing and turning because you can’t get comfortable? Or maybe you fall asleep easily but wake up with neck and back pain?
I used to be a mixture of both. I’d fall asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow, but would wake up more times then I could count, and by the morning my neck and back would be sore. I began researching mattresses but didn’t get far before realizing how our pillows can affect the way we sleep.
Could my pillow be the problem?
It made sense, so I dug a little deeper and before long I fell down the rabbit hole of pillow toxins and healthy pillow alternatives.
8 Eco-Friendly Pillows for Healthier Sleep
I was horrified to see what I’ve been snuggling up against for 8 hours a day, but became overwhelmed with the number of eco-friendly pillows available. On top of that, it seemed most non-toxic pillows were only available online, although many companies do offer a money-back guarantee.
There were nights Eric would catch me on my phone and ask “Are you reading about pillows again?”. Ummmmm…… no? That’s when I decided to reach out to several companies and see if they would be interested in sending us a pillow to check out.
I figured this way we could test out various eco-friendly pillows, give the extras to family, and share the information with you.
We’re far from perfect in navigating the eco-friendly waters but we do strive to be better, especially as we continue to learn more about the products we use.
Just remember that not all pillows are created equal and if you’re going to spend 1/3 of your life sleeping, you deserve a pillow that’s beautiful, comfortable, and healthy.
Do you know what’s in your pillow?
I used to purchase my bed pillows from home decor stores and was happy as long as it felt cuddly and could be washed, and if I snagged it at a discount that was even better. I never thought much about whether or not it was leaking toxins. (Thankfully, eco-friendly options are becoming more easily accessible.)
Sometimes, I think we expect manufacturers to do the right thing, to make products that are safe for us to use. Wouldn’t that be nice? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, but the good news is we can help change that.
Our spending habits are how we vote for the products and brands we want to support, and can also help shift companies in a different direction. (You may want to read my post on 10 questions to ask before buying home decor.)
What Kind of Sleeper are you?
Supposedly, sleeping on your back is best for the alignment of your spine, and sleeping on your stomach is the least recommended way to sleep. I tend to sleep on my side, although I generally go from side to stomach to back and then repeat the process all night, and prefer my pillows to be soft, yet slightly flat and firm. Some nights when I can’t sleep or my back would hurt I’d throw my pillows off the bed in frustration and sleep on none. Eric, on the other hand, is a stomach sleeper and likes super soft, fluffy, cloud-like pillows.
Everyone is different so it’s only natural that we all gravitate towards different pillows. We hope the eco-friendly pillow options below will help point you in the right direction, though we encourage you to do your own research to find a pillow you love, from a company you want to support.
I’ll also share our favorite pillows at the bottom of the post and spoiler alert, I’m now sleeping better than ever!
Eco-Friendly Pillow Reviews
You can read about our experience with each pillow below or watch the video above for a better sense of how these eco-friendly pillows look and feel. By the way, most of these companies offer a variety of eco-friendly pillow options and other products, so be sure to swing over to their websites to check them out!
Organic Kapok Pillow with Certified Organic Cotton Cover
Where to Buy: SavvyRest.com
Where it’s Made: USA
Features: Vegan, Adjustable Filling, Hypoallergenic, Anti-microbial, Anti-Bacterial, Dust mite resistant, Adjustable latex filling, GOTS certified
Despite practicing yoga and eating healthy, Michael and his wife, Heather, were having trouble sleeping. After learning what toxic chemicals end up in mattresses, Michael made it his life work to create a safe and comfortable alternative which led to the creation of Savvy Rest in 2003. I love that they are an employee-owned company and that they put people and the planet ahead of profits.
They sent us an organic Kapok pillow with a zippered organic cotton cover. Kapok is a plant-based alternative to down that comes from the seed pods of ceiba trees grown in tropical rainforests. Most down feather products are created from unethical and inhumane practices, so it’s nice to have an option that’s just as comfy (if not more) while being cruelty-free.
Fun fact, Kapok was used in the first life jacket designs until being replaced by synthetic foams.
Experience: When we first received this pillow I was blown away by how soft it is. The filling looks similar to cotton but is much lighter and has a silky, soft texture. We removed quite a bit of the filling just because we both prefer a lower loft, and this is now one of Eric’s favorite pillows. The fill reminds me of down but is way more comfortable than any down pillow I’ve ever slept on. If you plan to add or remove any of the kapok fill, just be careful because it can get a little messy since it’s so light and airy.
Best for: If you like the feeling of sleeping on a fluffy cloud, this pillow is for you because it’s extremely soft and cuddly. I love that you can adjust the loft by adding or removing some of the Kapok filling, and while this pillow could work for anyone and is supposed to be good for back sleepers, I think it would be especially comfortable for side or stomach sleepers. You will want to hug this pillow!
100% Natural Shredded Latex Pillow with Organic Cotton Cover
Where to Buy: PureLivingSpace.com
Where it’s Made: USA, each pillow is individually handcrafted when ordered
Pure Living Space is a family-run business that was created after Carol was ambushed on the stairs by her rescue cat. It was during her health recovery program that she realized how many toxins were in her home, and how difficult it was to source healthy alternatives and accurate information. That’s when she and her husband, Kelly, built a business with a mission to help people find the safest, healthiest home and personal care products quickly, easily, and with confidence.
They have a vast selection of products and were happy to send us their 100% Natural Shredded Latex pillow with an organic GOTS certified cotton sateen cover. What I love about this pillow is how you can adjust the loft and height when you add the zipper option.
Did you know latex comes from the sap of rubber tree plants? I actually had no idea until I started researching pillows. When searching for a latex pillow it’s important to look for “100% Natural Latex”, otherwise you could end up with a pillow blended with synthetic materials. Pure Living Space is GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard) certified so you can feel good knowing you’re sleeping on a pillow free of toxins and chemicals.
Experience: I found this pillow to be slightly firm yet bouncy and supportive. It was unlike any pillow I’ve slept on before and I could feel it relieving some of my neck and back pain. I prefer my pillows a bit flatter so I ended up removing close to half of the shredded latex filling. Afterward, it was less bouncy and we both liked how we were able to sink into the pillow without it compressing. It definitely contours to your head and neck, but isn’t necessarily moldable. Shredded latex pillows can supposedly help with snoring, but thankfully neither one of us have an issue with that. Just be careful if you need to remove some of the latex filling since the tiny shreds tend to be messy and cling to everything. The pillow does have a sweet, rubbery smell but that should dissipate over time, and you’ll want to avoid this pillow if you’re allergic to latex.
Best for: Overall we’d both describe this pillow as springy yet supportive and while you can change the loft, we think it could work best for back and side sleepers that want a slightly firmer pillow.
Eco-Friendly Eden Pillow
Where to Buy: Coop Home Goods
Where it’s Made: USA
Features: Adjustable Filling, Vegan, Hypoallergenic, Dust mite resistant, Sleeps Cool, 5-year warranty, 100 Night Sleep Trial CertiPUR-US® certified
When I first began researching pillows, the Coop pillows kept showing up and their reviews were glowing. To be honest, I was confused about whether this was an eco-friendly option considering the materials are not derived from nature, but then read that they are CertiPur-US certified. This means their foams are low VOC and made without ozone depleters, PBDEs, flame retardants, mercury, lead, formaldehyde or phthalates. This is a much better option than the toxic filled foams found in most pillows.
They sent us their Eden Pillow, which is their top-of-the-line model. It has cross-cut microfiber filling that’s gel-infused to help keep you cool, and a super soft gusset case that’s machine washable, hypoallergenic and allows edge-to-edge support.
Experience: As soon as we opened this pillow the first thing we noticed was how soft the case is. It came pretty well stuffed and they also include another small bag of filling, which is nice if you want to create a firmer pillow. The fill is super soft, cool to the touch and easy to remove. To be honest, I knew Eric was going to love this pillow and I was right. As soon as he took it out he was like, yup, this is my pillow.
Best for: If you’re looking for a down alternative, this is a great option. In fact, I’d say this is a pillow that could honestly work for anyone and everyone just because it’s so soft and comfortable yet adjustable and supportive. It’s definitely more on the soft and cuddly side making it a great pillow for side and stomach sleepers. And if you sleep hot and don’t want to have to flip your pillow throughout the night, this may be the pillow for you because it’s truly cooling.
Woolly “Down” and “Regular Fill” Pillows with Organic Cotton Covers
Where to Buy: Holy Lamb Organics
Where it’s Made: USA, Handmade to Order in Washington
Woolly “down” Price: $135-170
“Regular Fill” Price: $70-150
Features: Hypoallergenic, Dust mite resistant, Anti-microbial, Anti-Bacterial, Naturally Fire Resistant, comes from a Renewable Resource, GOTS certified, Gold Green America Certified, Eco Wool, Part of the Sustainable Wool Program, Zero Waste Philosophy. The woolly “down” pillow has an adjustable filling.
Natural wool has been used for centuries and it’s easy to see why once you read about the benefits. First off, these pillows are cruelty-free, which was my first concern when researching wool. The sheep grow a coat of wool annually and are not harmed during shearing – it’s like getting a haircut. Holy Lamb Organics only uses high-quality, eco-wool through sustainable practices, meaning the wool is sourced in the USA and supports small sheep farmers in Oregon and California. It’s then processed in a dedicated wool-only facility. When choosing wool pillows I’d stay away from conventional wool that may be doused in toxins. You can sleep soundly knowing the pillows from Holy Lamb Organics are safe for your family.
Experience: The first thing I noticed was the pillows were not individually wrapped in plastic inside the box, and there was a note explaining why. This is a company committed to plastic-free and zero waste business practices, and this made me appreciate them even more. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I would like the “regular fill” since it’s not adjustable but I actually liked it more. It felt lighter, softer and just a tad cooler. Eric preferred the woolly “down”, especially after he removed some of the filling to make it flatter. The woolly “down” filling was super soft and easy to manage. Eric described the pillows like sleeping on a dense cloud.
Best for: These pillows are soft yet firm and supportive. I think either would be most comfortable for back or side sleepers but since the woolly “down” is adjustable you can make it flatter if you’re a stomach sleeper. It may seem lumpy at first if you have it overfilled, but you adjust the filling, and it will also compress over time. If you tend to sleep hot or sweat at night, you may want to consider a wool pillow since they stabilize temperature and wick away moisture, keeping your head dry. Not only is wool durable but it can keep you cool in the summer and warm in winter.
Organic Buckwheat and Lavender Millet Ultimate Pillow Kit
Where to Buy: Open Your Eyes Bedding
Where it’s Made: USA
Features: All natural and biodegradable, Vegan, Supportive, Stays Cool, Hypoallergenic, Therapeutic, Lavender is Mixed in with the Millet Hulls
During my research for eco-friendly pillows, I became the most curious about buckwheat and millet options. Buckwheat hull pillows originated in Asia and have been around for centuries. Based on reviews, it seems you’ll either love or hate these pillows since they are unlike typical “fluffy” pillows and can take some getting used to. With that said, these pillows can help align your spine, alleviate neck and back pain, and supposedly even prevent headaches, all while keeping you cool and comfortable.
One of the biggest complaints I read about Buckwheat hull pillows (aside from being heavy) is the crunchy sound they make when you move them around or that you can feel them through the pillowcase. That’s when I came across Open Your Eyes Bedding, who sent us their beautiful pillow kit. Their double knit, organic cotton insert has two zippered compartments; one for holding lavender millet hulls and the other for holding buckwheat hulls. The cotton fabric creates a very soft, quiet, hull pillow, especially when used with their envelope style pillowcase.
Experience: As soon as the pillow kit arrived I knew this was the most unique pillow I’ve ever had. It was fun to put together and the lavender smelled amazing mixed in with the millet hulls. One thing was for sure, this was a HEAVY pillow. I was somewhat nervous about giving this pillow a try yet excited at the same time. While the pillowcase is super soft, I wouldn’t necessarily call this pillow cuddly. As soon as I laid on this pillow one word came to mind “Therapeutic”. It was as though I was instantly transported to a spa, partially because my neck and back immediately felt relief and partly because the lavender aroma was so relaxing. It reminded me of a therapeutic eye pillow I had a while back, only this time it was for my head and neck. I was instantly smitten with this pillow. Eric, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure.
I don’t generally sleep on my back but when I slept on this pillow I found myself sleeping on my back almost the entire night and not waking up nearly as often. I did remove some of the hulls to make it slightly lower and can say they are messy and stick to everything, so definitely be careful and keep your vacuum handy if you plan to remove any excess filling. Side Note: You can also order samples from their Natural Filling Store.
Best for: Anyone with back or neck pain that wants a pillow with a more therapeutic vibe. This pillow is great for back sleepers and you can easily mold the pillow how you want. I’ve slept comfortably on my side and even on my stomach, but mostly I fall asleep on my back feeling relaxed and supported. This pillow really conforms to your head and neck and is moldable. After sleeping on this pillow I feel more aware of my posture throughout the day and definitely don’t have the neck or back pain I used to get with other pillows. If you’re looking for a super soft, cuddly pillow this may not be for you, unless you’re willing to take a chance on something different from any other pillow you’ve slept on. If you suffer from neck and back pain this pillow may help you sleep better and wake up feeling more refreshed. It’s also pretty heavy so that’s definitely something to keep in mind.
Safety Note: Do not let infants sleep on buckwheat hull pillows as they’re considered soft bedding and a SIDS risk.
Lynne, the owner, also mentioned a helpful link you may want to check out, where you can send Duke University a small sample of foam from any of your home furnishings, mattress or pillows and they will test it for free, and send you back a report on the flame retardant chemicals they find. You can learn more about the Duke University Foam Test here.
Bamboo Charcoal Memory Foam Air and Gel Pillow
Where to Buy: Cariloha
Where it’s Made: China
Air Pillow Price: $79-89
Gel Pillow Price: $109-119
Features: Renewable Resources, Hypoallergenic, Naturally Breathable, Repels Odors and Allergens, Natural Insulator, Sleeps Cool
Inspired by the essence and energy of the islands, Cariloha blends the style of the Caribbean with the Spirit of Aloha to provide products driven by comfort and natural luxury. They turn self-replenishing bamboo fields into crazy-soft bamboo fabrics for bedding, apparel, and more.
Experience: These eco-friendly pillows felt luxurious and oh so comfortable. You’ll feel like you’re on vacation sleeping on one of these. Both pillows are soft and supportive, but I’d say the Bamboo Charcoal Air pillow is softer and the Gel pillow sleeps cooler, although both sleep cool. Cariloha also sent us some beautiful bamboo pillowcases which were ridiculously soft, luxurious, and cooling as well. Just be careful when washing them because someone (ahem Eric) must have used the wrong setting and slightly shrank them. The Viscose-from-Bamboo cover is extremely soft and while the pillows may look like something from another planet, even the microgel is made from Bamboo charcoal.
Best for: Both pillows would work great for back sleepers but I’d say the Air Pillow could also work for side and maybe even stomach sleepers. If you have neck or back pain either would be a great option because they’re more of a medium firm and while your head sinks into them, they are very supportive. In fact, I found myself sleeping through the night AND mostly sleeping on my back with both pillows. These were also Eric’s favorite pillows to relax in bed with, whether that’s reading or watching TV.
Your Pillowcase Matters
I also want to mention that your pillowcase can make a world of a difference too. What’s the point of splurging on a beautiful, healthy pillow only to cover it up with toxins? The good news is most of these pillows came with inserts and pillowcases that were super soft and comfy, but I’m still partial to our linen pillowcases.
Tip: Use the Extra Filling inside Throw Pillows
What’s great about these pillows is most include a zipper so you can customize the amount of filling inside. Whether you want something flatter, more supportive, extra firm, or super soft you have options. I found myself removing nearly half of the fill that came with the pillows, leaving me quite a bit extra. This was awesome because we now have extra filling to use for some of our throw pillows, most of which had come with down feather or polyester inserts. I don’t think you need to go crazy and get rid of all your pillows or pillow inserts at once unless you want or can afford to, but replacing them over time is definitely worth it.
You can also purchase a variety of fillings from the different companies mentioned above, so be sure to visit their websites.
Our favorite Eco-Friendly Pillows:
For Eric, it was a toss-up between the Coop Eden Pillow and the Organic Kapok Pillow. He seems to change them up every other night. Both are super soft and perfect for his stomach sleeping ways, though the Coop definitely has a more “cooling” effect. We never realized how much he prefers a flatter pillow, until we were able to customize how we want them. If you wanna sleep on a cloud these are your best bets.
Let me first say I love all of these pillows! They are all beautifully made and special in their own way. With that said, my favorite pillow is probably a toss-up between the Coop Eden Pillow and Bamboo Charcoal Air Pillow. Both pillows are super cuddly, yet firm enough to support my neck and back. They also sleep really cool and don’t require pillow flipping, which is a must for me!
It’s strange how I went from tossing and turning all night, to mostly sleeping on my back. I definitely sleep much better now and wake up maybe 1-2 times through the night, which is insane compared to how often I used to wake up (and normally it’s because of our cats racing around at 3 am).
I was also surprised how much I love the Lavender Millet & Buckwheat Ultimate Pillow Kit from Open Your Eyes Bedding. This is the pillow I never knew I needed. I don’t use it every night but can’t part with it. If I’m feeling achy this is the pillow I use because it’s super therapeutic to me. I wish it wasn’t so heavy, and think I may like it more if it was smaller, but since the filling is adjustable I can always make a smaller version. I can’t sleep on my side with this pillow because it tends to make my ear sensitive, but because of that, it’s helped “train” me to sleep on my back. I’m always amazed when I wake up in the same position I fell asleep in hours prior and I’m sure Eric is sleeping better now that there is less kicking and blanket snatching going on. I know sleeping on your back is the “preferred” method since it’s supposedly better for your back and spine, and these pillows help me do just that!
2021 Update: It’s been over 3 years and these are still our favorite pillows. I especially love how easy it is to adjust the filling of the Coop or fluff it back up in the dryer, and I’ve since added the Coop body pillow to the mix. I’m also officially more of a back/side sleeper, and don’t thrash around at night the way I used to. Crazy to think just how much of a difference a pillow can make!
If you’re going to spend 8 hours a day sleeping on a pillow, why not invest in one that’s not only comfortable but safe. It’s one of the easiest investments you can make in your health.
We hope you found this post helpful, if you have any favorite eco-friendly pillows, tell us about them in the comments below!