Why we use organic cotton grown in the USA

How is cotton grown?

To grow cotton you need a long frost-free period, moderate rainfall (not too much, not too little) and lots of sunshine. These qualities are all found in the South Plains region of Texas, where the organic cotton we get from the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative comes from.

Organic cotton must past these qualifiers:

  1. Plants have not been genetically modified
  2. Plants are grown without the use of synthetic agricultural chemicals
  3. All practices must comply with the National Organic Program standards

Cotton fibers, which are almost pure cellulose, go through a lot between growing in the field and being sewn into our buckwheat pillows. Planting begins as early as February. The shrubs must grow, flower and bare fruit. Cotton seed pods, called bolls, contain hundreds of thousands of fibers that pop out like popcorn when the boll is mature. They are harvested, cleaned of debris and then wound into thread. The thread is woven into fabric, like twill we use to make our buckwheat pillows.

 

The manufacturing process of the fabric we use has a small carbon footprint.

The fabric we use to make our ComfySleep pillows was made using cotton grown in Texas and certified 100% organic by the Texas Department of Agriculture. The yarns were spun in North Carolina and the fabric was woven in South Carolina by a US workforce.

To read about ComfySleep buckwheat hull pillows or to purchase click here.

March 03, 2015 by Claire Collie

ComfySleep pillows - made with organic fabric!

ComfySleep pillows are now made with organic cotton twill fabric that was grown on US farms and woven in US mills!

 

We have been working towards this goal for a long time. Sustainable, fair practices are very important to us at ComfyComfy and we want to reflect our values in the pillows we make. We’ve been contacting growers, and working with weavers to find a fabric that matched all of our needs.

Why organic cotton twill?

The fabric used to make our buckwheat pillows needed to be durable to contain buckwheat hulls for many years without being stiff and uncomfortable. It needed to be soft and create a pleasant experience for all those who would rest their head on our pillow each night. Lastly, this fabric needed to be planted, grown, harvested and woven as close to home as possible.

We found farmers in Texas who produce the majority of organic cotton used the US, and a weaver in South Carolina that is as dedicated to making sustainable products as we are.

Sleep well knowing your ComfySleep pillow was grown in the US and made in the US.

 To purchase a ComfySleep Buckwheat hull pillow click here.

February 19, 2015 by Claire Collie

Making pillows with natural fillers

All ComfyComfy pillows are filled with totally natural fillings. Producing pillows made from plant materials makes us feel wonderful because they are a) renewable resources and b) totally biodegradable.

We make sure that the materials we use to fill our pillows are processed without the use of chemicals or fumigation. Fumigation of grains and other plant materials is a fairly common practice used to kill insects and their larvae. This doesn't mean that our pillows aren't clean! They are throughly cleaned and graded using air and gravity. The flaxseeds we use are food grade quality, although we don't recommend eating flaxseeds that have been microwaved many times.

Like other products made from natural materials, our pillows can attract the attention of insect pests if not properly cared for. Taking care of a ComfyComfy pillow is not hard, and chances are you already practice most of the steps. For details, check out How to care for a flaxseed heat wrap and How to clean a buckwheat pillow.

February 08, 2015 by Claire Collie

Making buckwheat pillows: comparing fabrics

 

Maggie started making buckwheat pillows for family and friends decades ago. Over the years she has tried many fabrics to find the best one. The fabric used to make ComfyComfy buckwheat pillows has to follow these three criteria: durable for years of use, made from natural fibers, and soft enough for comfortable bedtime use.

Here are some of the fabrics Maggie has tried:

 

Cotton muslin fabric is available in many weights. It's commonly used for making pillows because it is inexpensive and widely available. We found that its plain weave was not durable enough for years of use.

 

Cotton ticking is a very tightly woven and durable fabric. Back when mattresses were made from straw, and pillows were filled with feathers, cotton ticking was used to contain these potentially pokey materials. Although this fabric passes our durability criteria we wanted to make pillows from a tighter woven fabric with a softer feel.

 

Twill describes how a fabric's threads are woven together. Threads are woven over an under in an alternating fashion to produce fabric with a diagonal pattern. This allows for a high thread count, and a soft, yet durable fabric. Durability is important to contain the three dimensional buckwheat hulls. Our ComfySleep pillows are made from organic, USA-grown cotton twill.

When choosing a buckwheat pillow, or any pillow, remember to consider what the pillow is made from.

Will it withstand years of use?
Is it made from natural fibers?
Is it soft enough to use at bedtime?
July 15, 2014 by Claire Collie

What is flaxseed?

Have you ever taken linseed oil as a nutritional supplement, worn linen clothing, used linseed oil when painting with oil paints, or had real linoleum floors in your house?

 

 

If so, you've been using products of the flax plant, Linum usitatissiumum, one of the oldest plants cultivated by humans. The fibrous plant stalks have been spun into linen fabric for millennia. The fibers are naturally straight and much stronger than cotton fibers. In North American and Europe flax was the primary source for cloth and paper until the nineteenth century when cotton became predominate.

Many products made from the flax plant are due to the high oil content of the seeds. Flax seeds are small, smooth seeds that ripen in small balloon-like capsules called bolls in the fall. Once harvested the oil is pressed out and processed depending on the product being made. As a vegetable oil food-grade linseed (or flaxseed) oil is high in the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (this is a different omega-3 fatty acid than those found in fish oil). Whole flaxseeds are also ground up into meal for human consumption and to make livestock feed healthier.

 

 

We use flaxseeds as filler in our flaxseed heat wraps because of their high oil content and smooth shape.

The flaxseed we use is 100% organically grown. Flaxseed oil is contained within the seed even when heated and cooled for many years. When flaxseeds are heated in the microwave they retain heat for much longer than other grains, like rice, that do not have such a high oil content. Heat released from our flaxseed pillows is gentle and smooth. The small, smooth shape of flaxseeds allows them to glide fluidly within our flaxseed pillows.

March 12, 2014 by Claire Collie

Balsam fir for our heart pillows

We have spent ample time sourcing quality materials to create our beloved balsam heart pillows. We especially love the soft scent of our pillows now when it is too cold to spend much time outdoors.

Balsam fir trees are fast growing evergreens that are native to a wide part of North American. They are often used as Christmas trees because of their stiff, upright growing habit, ability to retain their needles and fragrance.

Balsam trees have many uses. Balsam bark was an important source of food for some Native American tribes. Inner bark was peeled from the tree and used to make breadstuffs. Tea is made from dried balsam needles, and is said to help sooth sore throats and congestion. The buds and resin are used in folk medicine to treat numerous ailments including bronchitis, burns, colds, heart aliments, scurvy and to heal wounds. The resin was also used as an ingredient in varnish and to fix cover slips to microscope slides. Early campers used piles of young balsam boughs as mattresses.

 

 

 

The balsam we use to fill our pillows is wild harvested from private woodlots in Maine. This ensures that the trees were not sprayed with chemicals that are sometimes used to kill insect pests on balsam trees.

Trees are harvested with full scale logging equipment – tractors, bulldozers, and shredders are all used to process the balsam trees. Once harvested the branches are separated from the trunk of the tree. The log portion of the trees are sold to a local pulp mill, and turned into paper. The branches and needles are dried for a week in a specially designed climate controlled room. All parts of the tree are used so there is very little waste from the whole process.

 

 

 

Balsam is harvested for most of the year. The farmers take the month of June off. This is when the trees are flowering and pollinating. It is a messy time of year and many people are allergic to pollen. Not harvesting at this time of year keeps the balsam from being messy.

 

Thank you to Maine Balsam Fir Products for providing us with balsam and sharing information on their growing and processing techniques!
January 14, 2014 by Claire Collie