How to Buy Sustainable Pillow Inserts

6 Eco-Friendly Pillow Fillers That Will End Sleepless Nights

We all know benefits of a full good night sleep and how important it is for our health; reduces stress, improves your mood, helps you think more clearly and do better in school or at work and get along better with others. So, we should all find the best ways to achieve a good night's sleep. 

At Ecoist, we are always on the lookout for better, healthy, and eco-friendly upgrades for the products we use every day.

One of the most vital products that doesn’t nearly get enough attention is the one that supports our head and neck for rest, the pillow. As our pillows play a huge role in our ability to get a good night’s sleep, it makes sense to choose one that caters to not only our comfort and rest, but our overall health. The good news is that the pillows that are best for us are better for our planet too.

Traditionally, pillows have been filled with down and feather; down is the soft undercoating of geese and ducks. These days, however, modern pillow fillers are often created with synthetic polyester because it is inexpensive. But as a petroleum-based material, polyester is far from being environmentally friendly, and is rarely biodegradable. If this alone weren’t enough to encourage you to replace any old, synthetic pillows, the material itself is not very breathable, and has a tendency to hold on to heat. Since our pillows are what we rest our heads on every night, it makes sense that we would want to use materials that are better for us and for our planet. Many of the new, more sustainable choices for pillows come with the added benefit of being naturally anti-microbial and anti-bacterial. But not all pillows are made the same, and the ideal pillow is often up to personal opinion, be it if your preference is for softness or structure. The materials used for filler inside our pillows have a huge impact on our comfort levels and the way our neck, head, and spine feel as we sleep. Below, we’ll explore the factors that come into play when picking out a new pillow. On our hunt for greener alternatives, we’ve come across many exciting, new materials being used for fillers, which are listed here:


Feathers, like wool, are a long-established go-to for pillow fillers and tend to last much longer than their polyester counterparts. This means down is an easy way to convert your pillow to one of the most durable goods in your home. Since feathers are sourced from birds, they are naturally biodegradable. But the welfare of animals should be high on our list of requirements when searching for environmentally friendly products. That's why we keep an eye out for the ethical treatment of animals. 

When we look for ethically sourced down pillows, we need to ensure that the duck and goose feathers are derived from and raised in compliance with the principles and criteria of animal welfare. 

Retailers certified through Responsible Down Feathers (RDS) encourage positive changes in animal production, and down and feathers are ethically harvested from ducks and geese. Make sure if it has several green certifications, the Responsible Down Standard is one of them.


There's a reason why wool has been another traditional filling in pillows for so long; as a filler, it breathes well and keeps humidity levels low. It is also long-lasting and keeps its shape over time, meaning you don't have to worry about replacing your favorite pillow every few years. 

Wool is also naturally fire-resistant, antimicrobial, anti-bacterial, and without harsh chemicals, which means we sleep easier and healthier, the perfect combination of traditional material and modern greener practices. Try out a sustainable wool pillow filler, and make sure you choose an organic pillow cover.


Cotton is famous for its breathability, making for cooler pillow filler than most pillow types. Cotton filler is exceptionally soft, making for the perfect vegan alternative to down. If you are looking for a firmer feel in your pillows, cotton may not be the right fit for you since its fluffiness makes for a much plusher sleeping experience. 

A GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified 100% organic cotton pillow is moisture-wicking, hypo-allergenic, and antimicrobial. This is the perfect choice for the sensitive sleeper looking to steer clear of synthetic additives and toxic chemicals.

GOTS certified organic pillow is the perfect choice for sensitive sleepers. 


Buckwheat pillows are best known for their support and stability. These pillows are excellent for those who struggle with back or neck issues, as the buckwheat hulls are particularly suited to molding to your head and neck. The hulls don’t retain heat either, keeping you cool as you sleep. It is said that they do come with a crunchier sensation, but they make up for it with their superior support. 100% Organic chemical-based, foam-free and synthetic fire retardant-free buckwheat pillow fillers will ensure a good night’s sleep. There is also 100% Organic Buckwheat Aisling Pillow that is GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), Oeko-Tex, and Fairtrade Certified which are ideal choices.


Like buckwheat pillows, hemp pillows are another great natural alternative for those looking for more stability in their pillows. Hemp hulls are about half the size of buckwheat hulls, giving these pillows a more granular and slightly less structured feel. 

Hemp itself is among the most sustainable crops, as it requires less water, pesticides, and herbicides to grow compared to other popular crops, like cotton. It shares breathability with cotton, as hemp never traps heat or moisture, making it an excellent choice for hotter climates. Hemp fiber is also a natural heat regulator, ideal for balancing your temperature as you sleep.

Hemp never traps heat or moisture, making it an excellent option for pillow inserts.


Kapok fiber, also known as silk cotton, is harvested from the seed pods of the Ceiba tree, which grows in rainforests. The fluff itself is naturally buoyant and, interestingly enough, was used in the original designs for life jackets. 

Kapok makes for an excellent plant-based alternative to down pillows, given its soft texture. Kapok decorative pillow insert made from non-toxic, organic, natural ingredients and made by hand is a great sustainable option for a pillow filler. You can intentionally over-stuff with Kapok fillers or remove as much stuffing as you like to achieve your preferred fluff levels.

Belgium linen bedding


With so many options for good, sustainable pillow fillers out there, why settle for resting your head on a synthetic and petroleum-based one? 

Elevating your pillow is a simple and easy way to improve your bedtime routine and sleep restfully! And while you're upgrading your pillow fillers, why not continue the trend by adding some of Ecoist's favorite Belgium linen bedding to your bedroom. And a new pillow deserves a new pillowcase

Looking for gift ideas? Now's the perfect time to do some shopping for not just yourself, but the bedrooms of your loved ones as well. 

We can all rest easy knowing that our small choices to incorporate better, more ecologically friendly products into your homes make a difference for you and the planet.


Responsible Down:

Global Organic Textile Standards:

Buckwheat Pillow:


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