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This or That? | Linen v. Cotton

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

So, the goal here is to create a sustainable lifestyle, right? We talk about clothes, food, skincare, travel, etc. But what about sleep? About ⅓ of a human’s life is spent sleeping. That’s a pretty large portion of our time here that needs attention too.


Why is it so important to choose sustainable products for your bed? If you truly want to incorporate healthy materials in all areas of your life, your bed is a big one. After all, you do spend a lot of time there and whether you know it or not, the fabrics you choose affect you as well as the environment. You’ll want to make the best choice for your health and the health of others.


You may have heard the most common debate about bedding. Linen v. Cotton. Both fabrics are commonly used in the production of bedsheets, comforters, blankets, etc. Both materials are made from natural fibers which are derived from plants. There is definitely a way for both to be made sustainably and ethically. But which one is right for you?




Let's talk about linen!

  • Linen is sourced from flax plants which are actually known for sustainability and durability. It is grown in cooler climates such as France, Belgium, Italy, Ireland, China, and the United States.

  • The linen fibers are stronger, therefore they will end up lasting longer. This makes it a better long term investment, which is important when thinking about sustainability because you won’t have to purchase new very often.

  • Linen has temperature regulating qualities. It will keep you cool on warm nights and warm on cool nights.

  • Linen is hypoallergenic and good for people with sensitive skin. It is highly breathable and because it is moisture wicking bacteria doesn’t build up.

  • No water waste or water contamination! Linen uses no irrigation or fertilization in the growing process.

  • It is biodegradable.

  • Linen becomes softer with use, washing, and age.

Some info on cotton.

  • Cotton fibers come from the cotton plant which is grown in warmer climates such as the United States, China, India, Brazil, and Turkey.

  • Cotton fibers are much finer than linen so they can be weaved into a higher thread count. This adds comfort and can be easily washed.

  • This also makes cotton breathable and less likely to trap dust unlike synthetic fibers or blends.

  • Cotton is good for keeping you warm.

  • Cotton is very low maintenance and easy to care for.

  • 100% cotton bedding is also biodegradable.

  • The growing and production process is much faster and less taxing than linen.


ORGANIC IS IMPORTANT


The flax plant (linen) is naturally organic when farmed in its native region. The plant itself does not need fertilization and is also resistant to pests. Like anything, there is no way to really be sure there are no chemicals used unless it is stated that it is organic. That’s why it’s always so important to go organic!



On the other hand, pesticides and fertilizers are definitely used on non organic cotton farms. However, organic cotton farms do not use those toxic chemicals that can wind up in food, water, and soil. When it comes to bedding, and clothing too, those chemicals stay on the material which has harmful effects on your health. Organic cotton also uses significantly less water than non organic.






Affordability and Accessability


Linen is generally on the more expensive side when it comes to bedding. It requires a costly and more intensive process. The process of harvesting and weaving is more time consuming and flax must be grown in optimal weather conditions. Although linen is generally the more sustainable option, it is not the most practical and accessible material for many.



If you have the budget for it and like the look and feel, invest in quality linen bedding. If you’re looking for a more budget friendly product, go for organic cotton even if it might not last as long as linen. The point is, you can't really go wrong with either option when choosing one that’s organic and from an ethical company.



Here are few brands that I love and trust:


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