Natural Talalay Latex Pillows

by Tiffany in A Green Home

I think I may have enough comparative data now to say that natural latex pillows are my fave, greener pillow option. I have tried feather pillows, organic cotton pillows, and even buckwheat pillows but latex has to be my favorite. For about four months now I have been sleeping on a latex pillow and we just added another two. The most recent additions are all-natural talalay latex pillows from Plushbeds. It is amazing how different the pillows are.

Unlike my original latex pillow, which is shredded latex, these are molded. This makes them a bit more “poofy” and perfect for people who like fluffy pillows. They also stay cooler IMO than regular pillows which is good for me because we  have a memory foam mattress and they can get rather warm because they fit your body so snuggly but if my head is cool I don’t notice it as much. They also wick moisture away which is good if you tend to sweat.

I often steal both of the pillows for evening TV watching. Yes, I watch TV in my bedroom. My 6 year old is sleeping on one of them at night though. They did both have a rubbery smell when we got them but after running our air purifier throughout the night for a couple weeks, I no longer notice any smells.

They are:

  • Derived from sustainably-harvested botanical latex
  • Hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant
  • Sleeps cool and keeps moisture out
  • Extremely resilient and elastic
  • Includes cotton cover with zipper system

They sell for $79, $89, or $99 each (Standard, Queen, and King Sizes). Not bad! They are really high quality and heavy… not something you will find at a cheapy big box store. They are also a great alternative for making dream time a little healthier and planet friendly.

Many thanks to Plush Beds for providing some pillows for me to review!


Savvy Rest Pillow Review & Giveaway

by Tiffany in Natural Product Reviews

About the same time I got my new bed I also got a new pillow. Hurray! Before getting to test drive the Savvy Rest Shredded Latex Pillow you see above I was using some organic cotton pillows that frankly were not that comfortable. In fact I was using two of them at once because they tended to get flatter and flatter with each passing day. I ended up passing my pillows on to my daughter, along with my old bed actually. While neither is that great IMO they are better than what she currently had. Why is it that kids pillows always end up stained and gross even if you have rules about food in the bedroom???

Anyway, Savvy Rest sells lots of organic and natural bedding products including natural mattresses. When my pillow arrived it came over stuffed so I had to remove quite a bit of the shredded latex filling. I ended up bagging it and it will hang out in my closet until I figure out a way to reuse it. It is super soft Dunlop and natural Talalay latex rubber that is shredded into tiny pieces. I am am not big on the big blocks of latex that make up contoured pillows so this seemed like the perfect compromise. The cover is organic cotton.

I have been using it for a few weeks now and I quite like it. Being able to add/remove the filling allows you to customize it to your preferred comfort level. If you like a firm pillow no problem. If you like a soft pillow that is no problem either just remove the fill as needed. I find that I needed to remove quite a bit since I have a memory foam mattress that I tend to sink into. I imagine I could make another pillow with what I have left over. ;) Plus the cover is removeable so that it can be washed if it gets dirty.

Helpful Links: Savvy Rest on Facebook  | Savvy Rest on Google+  |  Savvy Rest on Pinterest

I have a giveaway for US readers. If you would like to win a standard size, shredded latex pillow then fill out the Rafflecopter form below. A winner will be selected at random. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a free pillow to review for this post but my opinions as always are my own.


Green Christmas Gift Ideas for Fitness Enthusiasts

by Tiffany in Fitness, Green Holidays

Is there really any greater gift, than the gift of health? No, not likely. Being healthy and fit takes us a long way on our journey to happier lives and it helps to ensure we are around to share our lives with our loved ones. It gives us greater energy and happiness. It keeps us young.

You may need gift ideas for loved ones who consider themselves gym rats and fitness enthusiasts or you may want to encourage someone who wants to be. Either way these gifts are perfect for those who want to prioritize fitness and greater health. Some I would consider “green” in their design or materials and others I have added because they are high quality and designed to last, even if they are not technically green. Enjoy!

Shoes – There are many brands of green and/or minimalist shoes out there so if you want to buy shoes for your loved one you may want to do your homework and see what they like and what they use their shoes for. Some good ones to try:

Garmin Forerunner – Most fitness nuts want to track their progress and compete against their own times. This nifty device is considered one the best tools to do that. It tracks your distance, time, pace, and heart rate. Works for running, walking, hiking, cycling, cross country skiing, and even windsurfing. Also has GPS. This is on my wish list for sure!

Mp3 player and Headphones – Whether at the gym or outside the workout goes mush faster and is much more enjoyable when you have tunes to listen to. You ideally want something small for fitness though, like the iPod nano or the shuffle. Both clip onto your clothing! Don’t forget the eco headphones to.

Sustainable Workout Clothes – Workout clothing that is ‘environmentally conscious’ is widely available now. Some of my faves include:

Eco Yoga Mat – Got any yoginis in the family? Well, then an eco friendly mat will be perfect. Most conventional mats have some toxic nasties in them and there are a few options now that are healthier for us and for the planet. Try the Gaiam Eco Reversible Yoga Mat (Peacock). Non toxic TPE, no PVC or latex, eco conscious company.

Gym Bag – Anyone who hits the gym a few times a week will need a bag to cart around all their stuff… swim suit, change of clothes, towel, toiletries, mp3 player, headphones, heart rate monitor, water bottle, etc. I have the Gaiam Everything Fits Recycled Gym Bag and it is roomy enough for all my stuff, has a pocket for wet stuff, and has a rope band on the bottom for holding a yoga mat.

Mountainsmith Approach 3.0 Recycled Backpack – Great for day hiking and backpacking AND made of recycled materials.

Tubbs Women’s Frontier Snowshoe – Man oh man do I want these! High quality, affordable, snow shoes.

Fitness Books: If your giftee happens to love fitness and reading then perhaps you could incorporate both pursuits. You might try a Winter Trails book specific to their state or an athletic memoire like Becoming Odyssa or Hiking Through.


Green Back to School Ideas

by Tiffany in Children

Getting ready to go back to school can bring a lot of mixed emotions; grief over the loss of summer, relief for the parents, dread for the kids, and it can have some green-minded parents shaking their head over the sheer amount of items (clothes, shoes, school supplies) that their kids seem to need to buy – and re-buy, each and every year.  Even when you homeschool you typically still buy some new stuff around this time because this is when it is readily available and on sale. Is there a way to green the return to the school scene? You betcha!

Luckily for us treehugger parents, there are several ways that you can turn a green eye on your back-to-school shopping and actually feel good about your reduced carbon footprint, and several have been included here.

The Green Scene for Back to School Clothes

Kids seem to grow a mile a minute, and sometimes it seems nearly impossible to keep them clothed without spending a fortune; add to that their insistence on being ‘hip’ or fashionable, and it can seem that trying to hopeless project go any shade of green.

For the seriously green-minded parent, there are a growing number of green-minded children’s clothing stores that are cropping up all across the US. From stores that use all organic cotton or hemp to stores that remake vintage clothing for today’s kids, there are plenty of choices available. I watched group deal places like Zulily and MamaSource all summer for deals on organic clothing. Those items work well for the limited amount of “new” stuff I buy each year and it is not so much a need for new as it is a need to help support companies making greener options so they stick around.

If you want to get your kids really “into” the greening of their closets, try taking them to a thrift store; some of the upscale thrift stores have styles and brands that even picky teenagers can’t complain about, and you’ll be able to breathe a sigh of relief that you are helping planet earth as much as possible. We went on our annual back to school thrift store trip this past week. I got so many adorable clothing items that my 7 year old daughter is happy to spend hours in her room trying them all on and figuring out all of the combinations she can make. The most we spent on anything was $5.99 and that was for a brand new with tags 3 piece outfit (shirt, skirt, and alternating pants). Most of the clothing we bought was $1.99 a piece and we only bought nice stuff. Then we came home and freecycled their clothing that doesn’t fit anymore so that we can help other families keep it green too.

For shoes I recommend Simple Shoes. They have some very nice, eco friendly choices for kids.

There are also other components of fashion beyond clothing, especially for girls. My daughter usually starts out the year with some new piggy paints, non toxic nail polish and some natural lip gloss or balm (no lipstick yet!). She gets jewelry such as beaded necklaces at yard sales and garage sales and pretty soon earrings too since she will start this year with pierced ears.

For backpacks we use the same one from year to year. My youngest son will be going on year two for his Crocodile Creek Pack for his speech therapy sessions. My daughter decided to freecycle her backpack of 2 years for a new one this year. I didn’t complain because it was an iCarly backpack (which I objected to with no success) and this year she wanted an unbranded horse/pony backback. I still consider it a success.

Green Lunches for Green Kids

Lunches are a big part of your child’s school day, so why not focus on creating lunches for them that are based on organic and local grown foods? Local bakeries for the breads, farmers markets for the fruits and vegetables, or at the very least organic products from your local grocery store. I like to stock up on Apple Butter during the Fall days of our Farmer’s Market and it makes an appearance in lunches quite often. Local apples are another favorite as well as pumpkin soup (served cold) made from local pumpkins.

As you pack lunches use recyclable lunch bags or lunch boxes instead of paper bags. Even the pickiest kid can’t complain about the new metal water bottles with the awesome designs that can be used to send their drinks to school. You can even send green smoothies in them for a powerhouse of nutrition. For the best lunchboxes I recommend LunchBots, Tiffins, or The Laptop Lunchbox. I love that the laptop lunchbox has lids that can be used on some compartments so you can send pumpkin soup or chia seed pudding and not have it make a mess.

If you have teens that don’t want a lunch box you can give them a stylish reusable bag and some Planet Wise sandwich wraps. They can be used for more than just sandwiches and they are an eco friendly way to wrap foods. Plus the wrap can be unfolded and used as a placemat. Cool! Teens also like Built NY bags. They are funky and stylish while still be functional.

For more eco lunch ideas check out Bento Lunchbox.

An Eye on Green School Supplies

School supplies are perhaps the hardest thing to consider going green with when it comes to back-to-school shopping, but making wise choices can actually make a difference in the long run. When shopping for filler paper, notebooks and pencils, don’t settle for the cheapest products available, but choose instead items made from recycled paper and wood. An alternative paper notebook I like is the Writersblok Bamboo Notebook made from bamboo pulp. Also conventional stores usually have a greener notebook available it just costs more than the virgin paper notebooks for some reason.

You can buy eco pencils or dispense with standard wood pencils altogether and opt for a mechanical pencil where the only thing you have to worry about are the graphite refills. The same holds true with pens. While the solid case pens may be the cheapest, try choosing some refillable retractable pens instead. We have some Smens Scented pens made from newspaper and recycled plastic that my kids will be using this year. EcoPencils makes colored pencils too. This Terracycle pencil bag made from recycled juice bags would be an awesome way to carry them. ;)

And whatever you do, try to keep track of your mainstays from year to year. Re-using things like rulers, calculators, protractors the like may seem time consuming, it can make a decided difference, not just in the cost of your back-to-school supply shopping, but in how much it saves the planet to not have to deal with one more plastic calculator or ruler or protractor in the landfills. Throughout the year you can find these items at yard sales too.

For more info check out my main green school supplies page and this letter to the teacher.


Buckwheat Pillows

by Tiffany in A Green Home

Conventional pillows are often filled with a poly fill made from plastic. Couple that with the fact that they can be doused in chemicals to make them flame retardant and you may have a reason why you have trouble sleeping, have allergies, or have headaches, among other potential issues. Mainstream pillows can also be filled with noxious materials including; a).polystyrene (styrofoam) b). polyurethane foam (petroleum-base poly-fill) and c). polyethylene terephthalate (PET): which is used to make plastic drinking bottles. Some pillow makers brag about how their pillow is filled with recycled plastic water bottles but that thought does not appeal to me at all. Sweet dreams should not involve breathing a chemical soup each night.

Pillows made with pure and natural materials will have a remarkable impact on your sleep environment and your ability to get a good night’s rest. Some of the favorites are wool, natural latex, organic cotton, and the type highlighted in this post… Buckwheat Pillows.

Buckwheat pillows are often times filled with certified organic buckwheat hulls and wrapped in organic cotton. They are comfortable and supportive while being safe for you to sleep on. Sleeping on the hulls can help relieve muscle tension but it can take some time getting used to as well. Since hulls are irregularly shaped, air circulates around them and dust mites and microbes have a hard time taking root. No need for those antimicrobial sprays. To clean, remove the hulls from the pillow and rinse in a tub of cool water. Lay out to dry. Machine wash the empty case in hot water twice a month.

Most of them have a life span of 5-10 years and you can even order replacement buckwheat hulls on the Internet. Here are some links for helping to find the perfect buckwheat pillow:

Makura Miracle Natural Buckwheat Pillow – Traditional Size – An authentic Japanese buckwheat pillow. Hulls are locally grown and harvested, and they have been cleaned using a triple cleaning process to remove dust, buckwheat flour, and debris. 100% organic, grown totally without pesticides or herbicides and are considered hypo-allergenic. Absolutely-no additives. 100% unbleached cotton fabric for the pillow case, and luxury 3 layered quilted cotton pillow cover for comfortable texture, very durable yet very smooth to sleep on. Also, this pillow includes a zipper to allow you the option of removing hulls and adjusting the pillow to fit your exact needs. Cost: $49.99

Organic Buckwheat Pillow – Queen Size Filled with 100% US Grown Organic Buckwheat Hulls and 100% Natural Unbleached Cotton. Will conform and adjust perfectly to your head, neck, and spine. It will NOT collapse like foam. The buckwheat hulls allow air to circulate throughout the pillow. Cooling it off quickly. The Buckwheat pillow is a natural alternative to anyone with foam and feather allergies. Cost: $62.97

You might also try making your own pillow… just add buckwheat!

Organic Buckwheat Hulls 5 lbs – 100% Organic, US Grown Hulls. Triple cleaned and roasted. Excellent for Pillows and Crafts. Cost: $29.99

What are you sleeping on?

Recommended: Get Your Dream On Without Toxins |  Natural Pillow Types and Comparison

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

7 Comments on Buckwheat Pillows