Organic Wool Pillows – Pros and Cons

Written by Leigh Matthews, BA Hons, H.Dip. NT

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Leigh Matthews, BA Hons, H.Dip. NT

Sustainability Expert

Leigh Matthews is a sustainability expert and long time vegan. Her work on solar policy has been published in Canada's National Observer.

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Wool is a popular bedding material but we usually think of it as fill for duvets and fiber for blankets. What are the pros and cons of wool pillows, though? And how sustainable are wool pillows?

Table of Contents
  1. Organic Wool Pillows – Benefits
  2. The Downsides of Wool Pillows
  3. Is Organic Wool Sustainable?
  4. How Much Does an Organic Wool Pillow Cost?

Here’s a quick summary of the benefits and drawbacks of organic wool pillows:

ProsCons
ThermoregulatingToo firm for some sleepers
Moisture-wicking and moisture resistantLoses loft and flattens quickly
Naturally flame-resistantCan be expensive, especially if well certified
Resistant to mold, mildew, and dust mitesNot vegan
AntimicrobialMay be made using toxic chemical processes
DurableHeavy

Organic Wool Pillows – Benefits

Wool is a traditional pillow material that is firmer than kapok and latex and works well all year round, keeping you cool in summer and cozy in winter.

Wool is naturally:

  • Moisture-wicking
  • Water-resistant
  • Thermoregulating
  • Resistant to mold and mildew
  • Flame-resistant
  • Antimicrobial
  • Resistant to dust mites.

It’s very unlikely there will be any flame-retardant chemicals in your wool pillow and this material can be a great choice if you suffer from an allergy to dust mite feces.

The Downsides of Wool Pillows

Wool pillows are best for side-sleepers because they are quite firm, flat, and dense. They don’t conform to your head or body as other pillows might. Expect to move around a bit at first to get comfortable and look for a wool pillow with a zipper that lets you adjust the filling to alter the height and firmness.

Some pillows combine natural latex with wool for better cushioning.

Choose your wool pillow carefully

The resilience, softness, and ability of wool to maintain loft depends a lot on how it is processed. Companies like Rawganique use these traditional techniques like carding and garneting to create higher quality wool pillows that stand the test of time, making their products much more eco-friendly and cost effective in the long-run (View on Rawganique).

Wool is not vegan and the creation of wool pillows can involve cruelty to animals. Most wool in pillows comes from sheep, but some comes from goats, alpacas, or other animals. In rare cases, recycled wool may be used for pillows.

As a vegan, recycled wool is the only kind I’d consider using in a pillow, and I’d look for Global Recycled Standard (GRS) certification to prove it’s actually recycled. I’d also want to see some evidence that the wool hasn’t been sanitized using toxic chemicals and has been tested and found free of other hazardous substances.

Is Organic Wool Sustainable?

Even if you’re not vegan, it may concern you that wool production can damage the environment through overgrazing, pesticide use, and other toxic and harmful processes.

Always look for wool that is processed without the use of any dyes or bleaches. Bleached wool contains toxic compounds including dioxins. Conventional processes used to treat wool include:

  • Carbonizing – a process which uses carbonic acid to dissolve chaff
  • Shrink-proofing
  • Chemical scale removal
  • Moth-proofing.

All of these processes can involve harsh chemicals that contaminate the wool and lead to toxic off-gassing.

Safer, more sustainable wool pillows are those made with organic wool that is GOTS certified or, if produced in Europe, kbT certified. EcoWool or PureGrow are also good indicators that the wool is more sustainable, eco-friendly, and less toxic than conventional wool.

How Much Does an Organic Wool Pillow Cost?

The average price for an organic wool pillow is around $70. If you see a cheaper wool pillow, check to see if it is actually organic by looking for relevant certifications, such as GOTS.

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