Better Bedding

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otago_hemp.jpgLooking for new bed linens? You may not have given it any thought whatsoever, but those conventional cotton sheets are anything but sustainable. Millions of pounds of pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers, and other harsh chemicals are used to grow and process cotton. And since polyester is a petroleum derivative it is not exactly eco-friendly either. But, earth-friendly alternatives do exist and provide luxurious bedding. Here’s the first in my series of Better Bedding.

Hemp, yes hemp, is one of the most sustainable and versatile materials on the market, especially if it is grown, harvested, processed, spun, woven, cleaned, softened, and finished organically (Whew! It takes a lot to make fabric!). It comes from the cannabis sativa plant which is grown in Europe and Asia, and contrary to popular belief, has no properties of marijuana. Hemp fibers can be used to produce a linen-like fabric that is strong, durable and hypoallergenic. Hemp material lasts longer and requires less processing than cotton and polyester (look for hemp processed only with water and mechanical combing).

Even though hemp grows easily without pesticides, there are some insects that could become troublesome. Organic farming methods can be used to control those few pests. Hemp is a fast-growing, renewable resource–“germination to maturity takes between 80-120 days (depending on variety, latitude and field/climate factors) – to reach heights of up to 15′”. It is grown in a densely packed manner allowing for minimal use of farming land. Growing it in this way, also eliminates the need for herbicides as it deters weed growth. Its deep root system even helps prevent soil erosion.

Hemp fibers are processed to create a soft fabric that gets dramatically softer with each laundering. It “breathes” , is biodegradable, and is resistant to mildew and microbes. It even keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Hemp linens are available (from several companies) in several colors, but look for those colored with earth-friendly dyes or left in its natural beige color. It is also less prone to fading than cotton.

Check out Organic Clothing’s blog post about the many varied and fascinating uses for hemp.

photo courtesy of Indika Organics

Tag(s): Bed and Bath, Gift Ideas, Going Green

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