How Do You Sleep at Night?
In the years prior to launching Hoot, we had been taking various steps to be more environmentally conscious in our lives, but finally realized we knew nothing about the impact of how we spend hours each night (usually 6 for Chris, 8-9 for Laura if she’s lucky).
We knew that if we wanted to talk the talk and walk the walk, we should also sleep the sleep. As we dove into our options for a sustainable bed sheet fabric, we were disappointed to find that no other company was acknowledging the impact of the fibers they were using. So we will.
Let’s start with conventional cotton, one of the most common natural materials found in our closets, and on our mattresses, and in our lives. Considered the world’s dirtiest crop, cotton is extremely pesticide-intensive. Cotton covers just 2.5% of the world’s cultivated land and yet cotton growers use 16% of the world’s pesticides. Cotton is also considered the world’s thirstiest crop, using 198 trillion liters of water each year.
Organic cotton sure sounds better and is a more sustainable option, but is not without its own complications. While organic cotton does not use synthetic pesticides to grow, it does require far more resources to produce the same amount of fiber as conventional cotton. For example, it will take you about 290 gallons of water to grow enough conventional cotton to produce a t-shirt. To grow the same amount of organic cotton for the same t-shirt requires about 660 gallons of water. Not only a strain on water supply and labor requirements, these lower yields have also been linked to higher greenhouse-gas emissions on the industrial farms producing them.
What about bamboo? In the early stages of Hoot, we spent a lot of time exploring this option, due to bamboo’s reputation as a fast-growing crop that requires little water to grow. What we found, however, was that bamboo is extremely tough, so it requires dangerously toxic chemicals to turn into a soft and usable fabric. Chemically produced bamboo fabric commonly comes in the form of viscose rayon. For bamboo to be turned into rayon, it is dissolved in harsh chemicals, 50% of which find their way back into the environment, endangering factory workers, polluting the air, and infecting water systems.
Learning all this discouraging news about natural fibers, we also looked into synthetics, specifically recycled plastics and polyester. Unfortunately, when washed and laundered, these materials shed microscopic pieces of plastic. These microplastics work their way from our washing machines, through treatment plants, and into our oceans. It is estimated that 35% of microplastic pollution in the world comes from washing synthetic textiles.
So we dreamed bigger and better. Hoot sheets are the first and only made with fibers recycled from clothing industry scraps, using a revolutionary technology that reduces human reliance on natural raw materials. These fibers are blended with eucalyptus wood pulp from trees grown on sustainable farms certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Each tree produces a high yield of quality fiber with the least amount of water and without the use of pesticides.
But our work is not complete. Look out for future blogposts outlining our vision for further refining the components of our sheet and ensuring the sustainability of our processing.