By Katharine Ferrera
Welcome, conscientious consumer! If you clicked on this article, you may be looking for a new pillow. But you are probably also aware that most are made from synthetic materials that can emit toxic VOCs which damage your quality of sleep and have long-term health effects. You want to make the right choice for yourself and your planet, but you’re having trouble finding the perfect pillow? Don’t worry! There are plenty of great, natural options out there, and you don’t need to sacrifice sustainability in order to get a good night’s sleep.
Before we get into our top picks, here are four things to look for when choosing a pillow.
1 – Certifications: Look for independent, third-party certifications. GREENGUARD Gold and OEKO-TEX are the toughest standards for a pillow as a whole. Latex should be eco-INSTITUT® and/or Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) certified. Wool should be OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100 certified. Cotton should be 100% organic and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified. Ideally, the product as a whole will be certified MADE SAFE®, which means that it has been evaluated to ensure it is made without harmful chemicals.
Note: Be wary of non-independent certifications like CertiPUR-US, which sounds good but is actually administered by the Alliance for Flexible Polyurethane Foam, Inc. Nearly all petroleum-based polyurethane foams will qualify.
2 – Transparency: If a company isn’t clearly stating what materials are used in their mattresses, they’re probably trying to hide something. You’ll find that the truly eco-friendly mattress brands shout it from the mountaintops because they’re proud of what they’ve created.
3 – Vegan: Nowadays, “vegan” is a bit of a buzzword among environmentalists, but for good reason. Vegan products are generally better for the environment than animal products, because livestock and farm animals are a major source of carbon and methane emissions. Plus, when you buy vegan you don’t need to worry that your purchase is harming animals—it is, by definition, cruelty-free!
4 – Goodness: Making a great product is one thing, but what about the big picture of how the business operates? Do they manufacture in the USA? Do they use recycled/minimal packaging? Do they give back? Support brands that go above and beyond.
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Avocado Green Mattress
Our Favorites – Avocado Green Pillow
Materials – GOLS certified organic latex, GOTS certified kapok, GOTS certified organic cotton
Vegan? – Yes! No animal products here.
Price – $109
Certifications – GREENGUARD Gold, MADE SAFE®, eco-INSTITUT®, USDA Organic, Formaldehyde Free, Vegan Certified, PETA Approved, Green America Certified, Sustainable Furnishings Council, Climate Neutral Certified, …
Guarantee – 100 day trial, limited 1 year warranty
Delivery – Free carbon neutral shipping to all US locations
Goodness – Certified B Corporation. 1% For the Planet (Avocado donates 1% of all revenues to environmental nonprofits)
Avocado boasts that this is the best 100% organic pillow on the market, and their reviews agree! This pillow is made solely out of high quality, certified organic and non-toxic materials – GOLS organic certified latex and GOTS organic certified kapok fill, GOTS organic certified quilted cotton cover. This is one of the most healthy, chemical-free pillows you will find on the market. It is also entirely vegan for extra peace of mind. To top it off, it’s adjustable! Just unzip and add or subtract stuffing to get just the firmness that works best for you. This must be why it was named the best luxury organic pillow in 2023!
Avocado Green Mattress began in 2016. Co-founders Alex and Jeff D’Andrea were looking for an environmentally friendly, non-toxic mattress they could actually afford, but all they could find was greenwashing and loopholes — so they decided to start their own company to provide high-quality, sustainably-sourced bedding products at affordable prices.
Avocado’s pillows are handmade in Los Angeles, by workers who are paid a living wage and given comprehensive benefits. Their factory is one of the five mattress factories in the US to be both GOLS and GOTS Certified, meaning all their fabrics are free of toxic chemicals, protecting workers, customers, and the planet. Avocado is a Carbonfree® Partner, meaning all the carbon emissions from their factory and product shipping are offset annually.
On top of all that, Avocado is Certified B Corp, meaning they are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment.
How is your back doing?
Avocado also makes a line of vegan yoga pillows filled with natural buckwheat hulls held by an inner liner made from GOTS certified organic cotton. The complete line is covered with a removable GOTS certified organic cotton cover. They’ll “bolster” your meditation practice as you bring physical and mental wellness into your life and your home. These handcrafted, MADE SAFE certified yoga cushions deliver enough height and support for all meditation levels, styles, and mantras. So why worry about flame-retardants, toxic adhesives, and forever chemicals?
The Organic Square Meditation Pillow, Organic Yoga Meditation Pillow (in a comfy oval shape), Organic Pranayama Pillow, and Organic Yoga Bolster Pillow can relieve pressure and allow a deep stretch without overextending. Stretch and relax you body and your mind. (And then zip off the cotton covers and wash in cold water, so they’re fresh and clean for your next session.)
Try a wedge, and you may never look back
By elevating the entire upper body, a wide wedge pillow might help you rest easier. Wedges help with sleep apnea, acid reflux, and other conditions where elevating the head helps you breathe easier. (And it’s way more affordable than an adjustable bed.) Many side sleepers find a wedge easier on their neck and back. And leg support while sleeping, reading, or lounging can alleviate leg pain and swelling.
Most wedge pillows contain polyurethane or synthetic memory foam. But Avocado crafts their 7 and 10 inch Organic Latex Wedge Pillows from GOLS certified organic Dunlop latex, sourced from FSC certified sustainable rubber tree farms. They’re breathable, durable, antimicrobial, and hypoallergenic. The GOTS certified organic cotton cover zips off so you can toss it in the washer.
Finding fresh, sleep-friendly pillowcases can be difficult with wedge pillows, but Avocado offers sateen-finish, GOTS certified Organic Cotton Wedge Pillowcases for a smooth feel, plus a zipper to keep it snug.
Remember the little ones
Avocado’s Organic Toddler Pillow is hugely popular because it’s filled with goodness: organic latex and organic kapok fiber, covered in an organic cotton cover. That’s all wrapped in a MADE SAFE nontoxic certification, giving parents peace of mind.
Gentle and breathable, cotton sleeps cooler than synthetics. And you can trust that GOTS certified organic cotton is grown and harvested without pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers. Inside, ribbons of latex are GOLS certified organic, the highest possible standard. GOTS certified organic kapok fiber is the cotton-like fluff harvested from the tropical kapok tree’s seed pods. It’s a softer, lighter, and vegan alternative to down; plus it’s hypoallergenic and nontoxic.
These natural materials provide support and structure along with exceptional resilience. (Though you may choose to protect your pillow with the Organic Waterproof Pillow Protector and/or Organic Mini Pillowcase.) At 20 by 12 inches, this durable lovey is ideal for travel, floor play, naptime, or laptime.
Our Favorites – All of them, but especially their Organic Cotton Pillow
Materials – GOTS certified organic cotton, GOLS certified natural rubber and latex, natural buckwheat hulls, GOTS certified organic wool
Vegan? – Some models
Price – Starting at $99
Certifications – The Organic Cotton Pillow is completely GOTS certified
Guarantee – Unopened products may be returned within 30 days
Delivery – Items ship within 7-10 days
Goodness – No CSR initiatives are mentioned on their website
Lifekind offers many pillows made entirely out of natural and certified organic materials, ensuring that you’ll be able to find the perfect fit without sacrificing sustainability. You will find pillows filled with wool, cotton, natural rubber, down, even buckwheat! Some of their pillows allow you to adjust the firmness, while others, like the Certified Organic Cotton Pillow, come in three loft sizes (light, medium, and full), so that you can choose the support you need. With such a wide assortment of products—including neck, body, toddler, and travel pillows—Lifekind has something for everyone.
Walt Bader had always been chemically sensitive and struggled to find quality products that wouldn’t cause irritation, so in 1997 he founded Lifekind with the goal of making safe household products with transparent, easy to understand ingredient lists. Their products are handmade at their Eco-Factory in California, using GOLS and GOTS certified materials.
Our Favorite – PLA Pillow with Organic Fabric
Materials – Organic cotton cover, PLA from organic sugarcane
Vegan? – Yes
Price – $79
Certifications – OCS 100 (Organic Content Standard), MADE SAFE®, GREENGUARD Gold
Guarantee – Free returns within 30 days; 1 year limited warranty
Delivery – Free shipping to locations in continental US, fee for other locations
Goodness – Naturepedic donates 1% of annual gross income to environmental nonprofits
If you haven’t heard of PLA before, it’s a bioplastic made from fermented plant starch. In addition to being made with renewable resources, it has a low carbon footprint, making it an excellent choice for sustainability. It also makes for wonderful pillow filling: according to Naturepedic, it’s fluffy, supportive, and has excellent moisture wicking properties.
Naturepedic’s mission is to create high quality products free of all toxic chemicals, and their numerous awards and certifications reflect that. Every Naturepedic product is GREENGUARD Gold certified and formaldehyde free, so you can sleep soundly knowing you’re in good hands.
Our Favorites – Organic Kapok Pillow, Shredded Latex Pillow
Materials – Organic kapok, organic cotton, GOLS certified organic Dunlop latex, Cradle-to-Cradle and FSC certified Talalay latex
Vegan? – Yes
Price – Starting at $119
Certifications – GREENGUARD Gold, GOTS, eco-INSTITUT®
Guarantee – Adjustable pillows, but no returns
Delivery – Normally ships within 7 days
Goodness – Savvy Rest has partnered with the Carbonfund.org Foundation
Savvy Rest offers a variety of pillows, so you’re sure to find one that meets your needs. And if you need help choosing, they even have a number of articles on their blog that can help! If you prefer an extra-soft pillow, try the Organic Kapok Pillow. The Shredded Latex Pillow is the firmer choice; they describe it as dense and supportive. Either way, both pillows are customizable, so you can adjust the fill to your liking.
Savvy Rest offers high-quality, long-lasting products that are free of toxic chemicals, pesticides, bleaches, and harmful dyes. They’re one of the few certified B Corporations that are also employee-owned, proving that Savvy Rest is committed to doing good.
Birch By Helix
Our Favorite – Organic Pillow
Materials – Cruelty-free Birch Wool, 100% organic cotton, and eco-INSTITUT certified organic Talalay latex
Vegan? – Other models
Price – Starting at $99
Certifications – GREENGUARD Gold, eco-INSTITUT certified latex, 100% organic, GOTS certified cotton (also Fair Trade Certified), PGC Wrightson Wool Integrity Program.
Guarantee – 100 night sleep trial; 1 year limited warranty
Delivery – Items ship within 3-5 days
Goodness – Birch has pledged to donate 1% of all sales to the National Forest Foundation, supporting NFF’s goal to plant 50 million trees in our National Forests.
The medium-firmness Birch Organic Pillow uses only natural and organic materials, and their website is highly transparent on where and how materials are sourced. This includes cruelty-free Birch wool, which comes direct from New Zealand partner farms; 100% organic American cotton; and Talalay latex, which is known for its plush feel. The Talalay latex is 100% natural and sustainably tapped. This is a safe, nontoxic pillow, that you know was made responsibly.
The shredded-latex core is wrapped in organic wool for breathability and temperature regulation. The springy wool fibers help the pillow retain its shape all over, for proven comfort and durability. The combination contours like memory foam, but cradles like latex. Do you change sleeping positions through the night and hate waking up all the way? A quick fluff of the shredded core will adjust the pillow to suit your needs.
Finally, the pillow cover is made of breathable, organic cotton, with a subtle stretch and soft touch. These natural materials all work to regulate temperature to ensure a full night of restorative sleep.
A nontoxic mattress is equally important
If you would benefit from a more comfortable night’s sleep, be sure to check out this selection of non-toxic mattresses. Rest easy and rest healthy.