Germ-Free Organic Pillows?

Walking through Bed Bath & Beyond yesterday, I found something that seemed rather strange to me.  Organic pillows.
Allergy Luxe Organic Pillow
This started me wondering: “what in the world is an organic pillow?”  I understand that people like “organic” products, but come on, pillows?  And it’s really hard to miss, packaged in a half-burlap, half-plastic sack.  If the manufacturer really wanted to go green, they could very easily have used a whole burlap sack and sew a cloth label onto it!  That way the packaging could be reused for, say, potato storage, grocery bags, covering tomato plants in inclement weather, little Suzie’s art project, and so on.  Hell, you could even use the sack as a pillow case if you’re in a tight spot at the moment (but then, you wouldn’t be getting this particular pillow, I guess).
Now, the more astute reader will notice a couple of things in the photo above.  First of all, the words “organic pillow” appear in large print, capturing and dominating your attention (second only to the brand name, Allergy Luxe).  Below that, it says “Pure Organic”, followed by “100% Organic cotton cover with luxurious down alternative fill” (emphasis mine).  Fankly, unless a shopper is in the habit of reading the entire product label (as I am), I would think it unlikely for this point to be noticed on the first or even the second pass.
I find this claim of being “pure organic” to be very interesting.  Technically, in the chemical sense of the word, the pillow is organic.  That is, it is made with substances composed of carbon compounds.  Manufacturer's label for the organic pillow.However, this is not the way the word “organic” is used in everyday vernacular.  In order for the “pure organic” claim to be anywhere close to true, the fibres of the “luxurious down alternative fill” should have been grown without the use of harmful chemicals.  That’s right, grown.  Not manufactured.

We can see, however, that the pillow (stuffing, I presume) is made of all new material consisting of 100% polyester fiber.  Indeed, towards the bottom of this image we find that it is the pillow covering that is made from 100% organic cotton.  The lining is made from 80% polyester and 20% cotton, presumably not organic.

I should note that this is stated on the packaging, though it is not immediately apparent.  Check on the photo above and see if you can find it.  No?  Check the top right corner of the label.

100% Organic Cotton Cover

So yes, only the cover of this pillow is made with 100% certified organic cotton.

I do not think it should be too much to ask that the entire product be “organic”.  I can think of at least a couple ways to get it started.

  1. Use a natural filler, rather than the synthetic, “down alternative fill”.  No matter how luxurious, it is still junk.  I would much prefer to have a real goose- or duck-down pillow, and know that those feathers came from an animal that was not fed growth hormones, antibiotics, or pesticide-laden food.   That would be organic in both senses!
  2. Get rid of the blended fabric for the lining.  Perhaps using a thicker, coarser cotton for the lining would do the trick, if a lining is really necessary at all.
  3. Since packaging is often necessary to prevent damage to the product, perhaps using a whole burlap sack (as I mentioned above) would be ideal.  There is really no need to have all the plastic as part of the packaging.  A nice cloth product label could easily be affixed to the sack.

The way this product is distributed and marketed, it looks a lot more like greenwashing than eco-friendliness.

One more point I dislike about this product is that it states (see the first photo) that the pillow has “anti-microbial protection”.  I was unable to find any information on any of the labelling as to what form of anti-microbial protection is present.  Based on what I’ve seen from other products, however, I would presume the pillow has been infused with Microban™.  This is one of several trade names for triclosan, which is present in nearly everything from hand soap to tooth brushes, baby change tables to garden hoses.  Unfortunately, this apparent ubiquity makes it exceptionally difficult to remove triclosan from our homes, let alone the rest of daily life.

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