When it’s time for bed, we consider a lot of things in our surroundings to create an environment conducive to rest. We turn off lights, close curtains and windows, turn off most electronics, and don comfortable clothing. And while sometimes going shopping for a new mattress can be daunting, we still don’t typically let them get so old that they are counterproductive to getting a good night’s sleep.
But too many people forget that one of the main aspects of assuring you sleep well and wake up rested and recharged is good, comfortable bedding. Finding the right quality sheets and pillowcases at the right price can be difficult enough. Finding organic bedding that maintains these qualities is even harder. West Elm has worked to produce an affordable, organic option for those seeking out the optimal solution to a perfect sleep area.
Let’s Jump In
West Elm is a branch of Williams-Sonoma that was founded in Brooklyn, New York in 2002, with the intention of providing modern but affordable furniture, accessories, and bedding. Most West Elm products are designed in-house (around 90%), and there is a focus to constantly offer more options for organic and sustainable merchandise. The company aims to increase the number of Fair Trade Certified™ products constantly.
While West Elm is now international, with locations abroad in Australia and the UK, as well as stores in Mexico and Canada, they pride themselves in having more than 85 US locations and being the first US home retailer to offer Fair Trade products (in 2014).
Many products offered by West Elm are handcrafted. These are sourced from around the world, with more than 35 artisan groups in their network that employ around 5,000 makers in their groups. In fact, the effort to localize and produce products for the community began in 2013, with the launch of West Elm LOCAL. It started in just two stores but soon expanded so it is included in every location of all fifteen countries. More importantly, the manufacturer strives to use organic materials when possible, reducing their impact on the environment.
West Elm Goals
Even with the great accomplishments they’ve already made, West Elm is dedicated to bettering their products and lessening their impact on the environment further. They have set out with specific goals for 2020, including some related to their organic sheets.
- Have 20% of their entire line of products handcrafted by designers around the world
- Have 40% of all the products offered under the brand name Fair Trade certified
- Have 100% of the cotton sourced for bedding be organic in every line they carry
- Have 50% of the wood sourced for products come from sustainable sources
- Have more than 1,000 makers in the United States working with them to create handcrafted designs
The Need for Sleep
Why should you be concerned about the sheets you use? It’s one of several ingredients to a good sleep environment that produces peaceful and comfortable slumber. Studies have shown that a lack of sleep can cause severe health issues, especially as the missed sleep builds up over time. If you aren’t getting the proper amount of sleep, or your sleep isn’t restful, you could find yourself in very poor health. And with increased risk factors such as insomnia, aging, and other sleep disorders, it’s crucial to do everything you can to improve your chances of sleeping well.
Some of the benefits of getting proper sleep include:
- Healthier heart and less chance for heart disease
- Reduced chance of suffering from depression
- Being more productive in every area of life, whether personal or professional
- Better memory retention as well as higher mental capacity overall
- Reduced levels of anxiety and stress
- Longer and fuller attention span
- Reduced time to heal from both injury and illness
- Less dizziness, especially at night, leading to reduced chance of falling
- Longer life span
When it comes to assuring you get the proper sleep, having the right bedding can go a long way. And this is crucial. Studies show that getting too much or too little sleep can lead to serious health complications. While the recommended amount of sleep after decades of studies is between seven and eight hours a night, a little more or less is mostly harmless. However, those who sleep less than six hours on average or more than nine have a significantly increased risk of heart problems and even death.
Having appropriate bedding can go a long way in helping you drift off sooner and stay asleep longer, without interruptions through the night. There are several properties of bedding that could cause issues with maintaining a peaceful slumber, such as night sweats, scratchy sheets, allergies to materials in the sheets, and sheets that shift or pop off the bed. Reducing the likelihood of any of these problems plaguing you can ease the stress of getting to sleep and staying that way.
People of all ages can benefit. Consider how sensitive a baby’s skin is and how easily babies get rashes. Some of this can be avoided with the proper bedding, especially if it’s organic.
Babies don’t have fully developed immune systems, and making sure they are exposed to fewer chemicals and allergens will go a long way in assuring they don’t develop severe allergies. Teens, too, who are going through changes in life both physical and mental, can benefit from a comfortable sleep space. The proper material will help avoid irritating conditions that develop during these years such as psoriasis and acne. It will also give them one less thing to worry about while their minds are in overdrive when they lay down to get some rest.
Older people already have issues with sleeping because their bodies also change hormonally. Night sweats, overheating, joint pains, and other ailments can make it more difficult to sleep in the first place, but when you add the chemical changes, an older adult who really needs just as much sleep or not more tends to get less. Between the body reacting negatively and the brain always on the go, as well as too many things to do that lessens the amount of time for sleep, they often get less instead of more.
Making sure that the sleep environment is ideal, with the best organic sheets available, can help reduce the amount of sleep lost. In combination with a good mattress and a dark, peaceful area, good sheets and bedding can make sleep something you look forward to.
West Elm Organic Sheets
While West Elm also offers Tencel and linen bedding, their primary concentration is on fully organic sheets, so they focus on collections that are made from 100% organic cotton. Some of the offerings they provide in their collection include:
- Organic washed cotton sheet sets
- Organic percale cotton sheet sets
- Organic sateen sheet sets
Each of these particular versions of organic cotton sheets come with multiple color and design options, so you can literally choose the sheets that are right for you without having to worry about them blending into your home décor. In order to help you make the best choice, you should first know more about the benefits of going organic.
Breaking it Down – What Organic Can Do for You
There’s a lot of debate as to what constitutes organic food because guidelines vary from place to place, and some people take into account more aspects of the growth of the food than others. However, the idea of organic material is a completely different story. It’s pretty easy to define what makes a material organic.
First, the material is naturally sourced, which means it comes from the earth without any genetic modification. Also, any processing of the materials must be done without the use of chemicals. In addition, to achieve a global textile standard, all collection and processing of the materials must be done “with compassion”, creating top of the line, durable products and also assuring that you do so with love and care for the earth from which you sourced your material.
Cotton is one of the most widely produced organic materials, especially where bedding and sheets are concerned. There are numerous benefits of organic sheets to consider:
- Pesticide and Chemical Free – Most plants used for bedding or even eating are treated with pesticides full of chemicals to protect them from destruction by invasions of insects and other pests. These chemicals leave traces of their compounds within the plant, which is then in the fibers of the sheets you buy. Organic sheets are made with cotton (or linen or other material) that is sourced from farms that don’t use pesticides and chemicals, which can keep you from inhaling toxic chemicals, absorbing them into your skin, or sleeping uncomfortably due to the way they may change the feel of the material.
- Hypoallergenic – This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since organic materials are free of pigment, pesticides, and bleach. With no chemicals used in the manufacturing process and a dye process that doesn’t involve the metals typically found in sheet dyes, there are far fewer allergens within the makeup of the sheets. That means that those with allergies, and especially those with asthma, are far less likely to have a reaction these sheets. By not having a possible allergic reaction to your sleep environment, the hypoallergenic properties of organic cotton sheets can make your sleep better and last longer.
- Temperature – This is affected in two ways. Consider that most synthetic materials aren’t particularly breathable and don’t allow for air flow. On the other hand, organic materials, especially cotton, naturally provide ventilation and circulation that assist in keeping your environment cooler. Therefore, the sheets beneath you are less likely to become too hot to stand. In addition, organic cotton has moisture wicking properties, absorbing any sweat and disbursing it so that it can then evaporate into the air around you, never causing you an uncomfortable night sleeping on damp sheets.
- Sustainability – Organic systems of production can keep and replenish the fertility of the soil they use on their own, without chemical fertilizers. In doing so, it often also produces natural deterrents for pests, negating a need for chemical pesticides. And with that ability for sustainability, fewer natural resources are utilized as well, all great for the planet as well as our health. Add to all of that how this can contribute to more diverse agriculture in terms of biology, and the recipe is clearly much more beneficial in all aspects.
- Biodegradability – So many materials today are manufactured in a way that makes them difficult or impossible to break down naturally. Of course, systems of recycling have been employed to reduce waste on these products, but many of them still end up in landfills or strewn as litter throughout the planet. With organic compounds, you don’t have that issue. They are biodegradable, and when it comes to organic sheets, if you decide to throw them out, they are known for their swift breakdown, which sometimes takes as little as two weeks.
- Durability – It may sound like a complete contradiction to how easily they are broken down, but organic materials, such as organic cotton and linen, are far more durable than synthetic materials or those produced with chemicals. Those additives and manmade items are not as structurally sound and are quick to wear and tear with frequent use. Bedding is used every night, and it’s important that it lasts a long time. With organic fibers like cotton, there are no chemicals to compromise their strength, so they hold up against heavy use, making them far more durable than other materials.
- Low Maintenance – Some more expensive materials have special care instructions that make your sheets difficult to deal with. Whether not recommending use of the dryer or warning that they should be dry cleaned, this just adds chaos and complications to your life. Organic cotton is one of the simplest materials to care for. Organic cotton sheets are perfectly safe for both the washing machine and the dryer. Simply remove promptly after drying to avoid any wrinkles, and you’ll have a perfect look on your bed.
Perhaps the best way to determine if your cotton sheets are truly organic, look for the GOTS certification – Global Organic Textile Standard. This is a standard accepted around the world and considered the most thorough assessment. This means that the processing has been monitored from beginning to end. It assures that the raw materials are harvested from a chemical-free environment, utilizing practices that are conscious of the needs of the earth. The manufacturing process is observed to make certain no chemicals are used in the process. Only then is the product labeled with the guarantee of being completely organic.
Properties of the Best Organic Sheets
When determining which of the organic cotton sheets you want to buy, there are particular aspects of the way the sheets are made you want to consider as top priority. Perhaps the three major “buzz words” related to choosing sheets are material, weave, and thread count. Since we’re already focused on organic cotton, there’s no need to discuss that important factor further.
For a long time, thread count was considered the most important element in quality sheets. While it’s still an important factor, though, it’s not the only thing to consider when researching and finding your sheets. What is thread count?
It is defined as the number of threads found in a square inch of fabric and includes threads going both directs – left and right as well as up and down there are referred to as weft (horizontal) and warp (vertical). You’ll find numbers as low as 150 and as high as 1,000 and even 1,200. Of course, in some cases, a higher count is better, but there is a limit to this. Consider how small a space you’re talking about.
A single square inch isn’t very large, so twisting 1,000 threads into that small space seems like overkill. In fact, such a high thread count can cause excess discomfort. You lose a lot of the breathability of the organic cotton this way, and often, the sheets feel rougher, depending on the weave. However, lower counts, such as 150 and 200, are much cheaper and typically used in children’s sheets so they are less harmful to the wallet to replace.
When picking out sheets, try to stay between 400 and 600 thread count. This will give you quality, softness, and durability without removing the breathability of organic cotton. These should be usable for years to come.
You have three options when it comes to the weave used for organic cotton sheets, and all of them are perfectly acceptable. Mostly, it depends on how soft you want the sheets to be, as well as how much you’re willing to spend. A standard weave is usually not labeled, and this is the most common type of weave you’ll find available. It’s going to be soft and comfortable, with all the lovely properties organic cotton offers.
Percale is another weave, with the thread count not really changing from what it would be in a standard weave. However, the cotton for this type of weave has been combed first and then tightly woven. This achieves a very soft but crisp feel that many people find extremely pleasant in bed sheets. Because the tight weave makes the fabric a little heavier, those who like a lighter feel should choose a thread count between 250 and 400, while those who prefer the heavier sensation should stick to between 400 and 600.
Sateen weave sheets require a little more care. A sateen weave changes the ratio of warp to weft threads, with more vertical than horizontal threads at the same thread count. This accomplishes a beautiful sheen and a soft, satiny feel to the sheets. However, you’ll find that a sateen weave is more likely to tear or pill due to the way it’s put together. While this may not be a problem on your bed because you are cautious and take care of your sheets, it it’s recommended for children’s sheets because, though high quality in feel, they aren’t durable enough to withstand the rambunctiousness of children.
West Elm Organic Washed Cotton Sheets
Among the top rated sheet sets within the organic cotton offerings from West Elm is the collection of washed cotton sheets. These are garment washed for the ultimate softness upon arrival, which also makes them more pliable and less stiff when you first put them on the bed. Like all the 100% organic cotton sheet sets by the manufacturer, these are GOTS certified, which means the process of maintaining the organic requirements is guaranteed. The product is made in India and is offered in four sizes (Twin XL which also fits standard Twin, Full, Queen, and King) as well as three colors (stone white, platinum, and pink blush).
The sheet set includes:
- Fitted sheet
- Flat sheet
- Set of 2 pillowcases (only 1 with Twin set)
These 200 thread count sheets also have a nice, slim pinstripe in slate that blends with the soft tones of the fabric while also creating a stylish, sleek design. While these sheets aren’t going to rank among the cheapest on the market, they aren’t incredibly expensive as some organic cotton sheets are.
West Elm Organic Percale Cotton Sheets
This is the highest end offering among the organic line by West Elm. Using percale weave – which is much softer from being combed before getting weaved tightly together – makes these slick and crisp, with a cool and comfortable feel that is still very breathable. Despite the fact that these feel a lot like the luxurious sheets you’d find in a four star hotel, you’ll also find that they are extremely durable and created specifically for daily use. As a Fair Trade Certified™ product, you can assure that the creation and production of these sheets bettered the life of any and all involved in the process.
The sheet set includes:
- Fitted sheet
- Flat sheet
- Set of 2 pillowcases (only 1 with Twin set)
These sheets have a 400 thread count, which is slightly heavier than the washed cotton sheets from the manufacturer. However, they are also slightly softer and created in a way that you aren’t compromising comfort but actually improving it. This collection is available in five sizes (Twin/Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, and California King) and two gorgeous, classy colors (white and platinum). As a bonus, these sheets are reversible, so even though they are extremely sturdy, it’s even easier to assure you won’t wear down a single spot.
West Elm Organic Sateen Cotton Sheets
The silky sheen of the sateen weave organic cotton in this collection from West Elm is even more luxurious, and the satiny feel is incredible. Not only do the sateen sheets retain the same guarantee of being organic, with the GOTS certification as all of the organic lines from the manufacturer that guarantees safe and environmentally friendly practices from start to finish. In addition, the sateen line also incorporates a very subtle scalloped embroidery around the edges that make them seem even more upscale than other sheets, even among the quality linens produced by West Elm.
The sheet set includes:
- Fitted sheet
- Flat sheet
- Set of 2 pillowcases (only 1 with Twin set)
The sateen sheets have a 400 thread count, which helps keep them sturdier with less likelihood of pilling or tearing. You can purchase the sheet set in five sizes (Twin/Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, and California King) and two color options (white and platinum) so that they are easily stylish in a conservative way and blend in with any décor you already have.
You have an option to test the sheets and assure that West Elm organic cotton sheets are the right purchase for you. You can take advantage of a 30 day trial period with no penalty so you aren’t stuck with a set you don’t like. Of course, with the solid quality, the softness, and the organic nature, there are few complaints to make.
The advantages that come with organic sheets include:
Hypoallergenic, leading to fewer breathing problems and no irritation to those with allergies or asthma
Environmentally friendly, with multiple certifications assuring that the harvesting of materials is kind and caring to the earth and that processing doesn’t utilize harmful chemicals
Better for your skin because there are no plastics or other toxins that can irritate or be absorbed by the skin
More breathable because pure organic cotton is naturally thin and allows air flow, which decreases heat retention and wicks away moisture
If you’re looking to go organic and take a little more care of yourself and the environment, you can opt for a number of different organic cotton sheets offered by multiple brands. However, West Elm has several advantages, including their affiliation with artisans for handcrafted originals and their GOTS certification.
Best of all, West Elm offers equal or better quality than other manufacturers at a reasonable price. The cost of organic materials can be highly inflated, but this manufacturer assures that the price tag is not overwhelming and makes the goal of purchasing top quality achievable for more people.