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Best Organic Pillows – Top Picks and Buying Guide

Our Research

38
Pillows Considered
29
Hours of Lab Testing
4
Sleep Experts Consulted

Quick Summary

Pillow shoppers today can choose from a wide range of materials and designs. Many prefer pillows that are made entirely or primarily from natural and organic materials such as latex, wool, cotton, and buckwheat hulls. Natural and organic components tend to be more durable than their synthetic counterparts. They are usually more breathable, also making them suitable for hot sleepers.

Best Organic Pillows

Many pillows are described as “natural” or “organic,” but for many models this label is misleading. In order to be considered truly organic, a pillow should receive official certifications such as the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) and/or the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). These certifications require certain percentages of natural and organic materials, and also restrict the use of synthetic fabrics, chemicals, and other manmade components.

This guide will discuss how organic pillows are produced, some pros and cons about using them, and key considerations for first-time buyers. Below, you’ll find our top five picks for organic pillows sold today. These selections are based on verified customer and owner reviews, along with our own product research and analysis.

Our Top 5 Picks

Editor's Pick – Avocado Green Pillow

Editor's Pick – Avocado Green Pillow

Highlights

  • Organic latex and kapok tree fill
  • Organic cotton cover
  • Adjustable loft
  • Vegan-certified
  • 1-year warranty
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Editor’s Pick Overview

Our Editor’s Pick, the Avocado Green Pillow, is a standout model for several reasons. The pillow contains a mix of GOLS-certified shredded latex and GOTS-certified kapok fibers, a downy-soft byproduct of the kapok tree. Owners can add or remove the fill to adjust the loft to their preferred thickness, making the pillow suitable for most sleepers regardless of their body weight or primary sleep position.

The cover is made from breathable, GOTS-certified organic cotton. The pillow’s overall feel is considered ‘medium,’ though adjusting the fill volume can make it feel slightly softer or firmer. In addition to earning GOLS and GOTS certifications, the Avocado Green Pillow has been vegan-certified by the Vegan Awareness Foundation. Avocado has also earned the GREENGUARD Gold certification, thanks to the company’s efforts to curb carbon emissions during manufacturing.

Compared to other organic pillows, the Avocado Green has a relatively low price-point. Avocado also offers free shipping and returns on orders in all 50 states, as well as a one-year warranty for the pillow.

Good for:
  • Sleepers in any position or weight group
  • Those who tend to sleep hot
  • Value-seekers
  • People with fluctuating loft preferences

Runner-Up Pick – Saatva Pillow

Runner-Up Pick – Saatva Pillow

Highlights

  • Shredded latex and microdenier fill
  • Organic cotton cover
  • Adjustable loft and firmness
  • Pillowcase bundle available
  • 45-night sleep trial
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Runner-Up Pick Overview

Our Runner-Up Pick is the Saatva Pillow. While not entirely organic, the pillow is constructed with a 100 percent organic cotton cover and a core made of shredded American Talalay latex, making it more eco-friendly than pillows made entirely from synthetic materials. The Saatva Pillow also has an internal layer of plush microdenier, which has a comparable feel to authentic down.

Owners can remove the internal layers to adjust the pillow’s loft and firmness setting. When completely constructed, it has a ‘medium-soft’ feel. The latex core is ventilated to provide steady airflow, resulting in cool and comfortable temperatures for most sleepers. Prominent gussets help the pillow maintain a full shape with little to no fluffing. And because natural latex is used, the pillow’s expected lifespan is much longer than average.

The Saatva Pillow is somewhat expensive, making it a good option for shoppers with bigger budgets. Saatva backs the pillow with a 45-night sleep trial. Free shipping is also available for all orders.

Good for:
  • Sleepers in any position or weight group
  • Those who tend to sleep hot
  • People with fluctuating loft and firmness preferences
  • Sleepers who enjoy the feeling of sinking into their pillows

Best Value – Beans72 Organic Buckwheat Pillow

Best Value – Beans72 Organic Buckwheat Pillow

Highlights

  • Organic buckwheat hull fill
  • Unbleached cotton cover
  • Adjustable loft
  • Pesticide- and herbicide-free manufacturing
  • 30-night sleep trial
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Best Value Overview

We’ve selected the Beans72 Organic Buckwheat Pillow as our Best Value pick. Its price-point is considerably lower than that of the average buckwheat pillow, but it provides the same durability and resilient support as most of its higher-cost competitors.

The pillow contains up to five pounds of organic buckwheat hulls grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides. Owners can increase or decrease the loft at any time by adding or removing the hulls, but regardless of volume the pillow has an exceptionally firm feel. Beans72 alo sells hulls in bulk for those who need a replenishment. The pillow’s cover is made from breathable, unbleached natural cotton.

Beans72 offers a 30-night sleep trial for the Organic Buckwheat Pillow. Amazon Prime members also qualify for free shipping when they purchase the pillow on Amazon.com.

Good for:
  • Sleepers who prefer very firm pillows
  • People with fluctuating loft preferences
  • Those who tend to sleep hot
  • Sleepers with back and shoulder pain

Best Buckwheat Pillow – Hullo Buckwheat Pillow

Best Buckwheat Pillow – Hullo Buckwheat Pillow

Highlights

  • Buckwheat hull fill
  • Organic cotton cover
  • Adjustable loft
  • Additional hulls available for purchase
  • 60-night sleep trial
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Best Buckwheat Pillow Overview

Buckwheat pillows are a popular organic option for many sleepers. The pillows are filled with hulls, the hard casing around buckwheat kernels, which results in an exceptionally firm and supportive shape. We’ve selected the Hullo as our Best Buckwheat Pillow because it exemplifies all of the variety’s best qualities, including durability, support, and temperature neutrality.

The Hullo can contain up to nine pounds of buckwheat hulls. This makes the pillow rather heavy, but it is also very stable and won’t slip around during the night. The cover is made of organic cotton. Thanks to this breathable outer casing and consistent airflow through the interior, the Hullo sleeps exceptionally cool.

Pillow owners can purchase buckwheat hulls from Hullo in bulk. Ten- and 20-pound shipments are available.

Hullo backs the pillow with a 60-night sleep trial. The company also provides free shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S.

Good for:
  • Sleepers who prefer very firm pillows
  • People with fluctuating loft preferences
  • Those who tend to sleep hot
  • Sleepers with back and shoulder pain

Best Wool Pillow – PlushBeds Natural Luxury Wool Pillow

Best Wool Pillow – PlushBeds Natural Luxury Wool Pillow

Highlights

  • Eco-wool fill
  • Pure cotton cover
  • 5" loft
  • Cruelty-free wool production
  • Free shipping to contiguous U.S.
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Best Wool Pillow Overview

Many sleepers enjoy the feel of wool pillows. The material is naturally soft and durable, resulting in a good balance of conforming and support. Temperature neutrality is another key strength. Wool wicks away moisture from the sleeper’s body for exceptional cooling during hotter times of the year, but it also feels warm and cozy during the colder months.

We’ve chosen the PlushBeds Natural Luxury Wool Pillow in part because it is manufactured using cruelty-free means. The company does not bathe sheep in herbicides to rid them of pests (a process known as dipping), nor are the animals exposed to mulesing or other harmful shearing practices. In addition to the eco-wool fill, the pillow features a cover made of natural cotton sateen.

PlushBeds does not offer a sleep trial for the Natural Luxury Wool Pillow, but shipping is free for all orders within the contiguous U.S. The pillow’s price-point is very reasonable compared to other natural and organic pillows.

Good for:
  • Sleepers who prefer exceptionally soft pillows
  • Those who tend to sleep hot and/or cold
  • Animal-conscious shoppers
  • Value seekers

Buying Guide – How to Shop for an Organic Pillow

Organic pillows are popular among today’s sleepers for several reasons. Because they are made from natural materials such as latex, wool, and/or cotton, they tend to be exceptionally durable and resistant to wear-and-tear. Organic pillows also sleep cooler due to the natural breathability and temperature neutrality of their components.

Responsible production is another strong point. In order to be considered organic, companies must abide by strict international guidelines for manufacturing processes, carbon emissions, and the use of pesticides and herbicides. Additionally, organic pillows containing animal-related materials (such as wool) must be produced using cruelty-free means.

This buying guide will discuss requirements for organic pillows, common materials used to construct them, and some key factors first-time shoppers should take into account.

What Is an Organic Pillow?

By definition, an organic pillow must receive certifications from the GOTS, GOLS, or other certifying bodies. Pillows containing these components that have not earned the certifications should be considered “natural,” not organic. Many pillow brands advertise their products as “organic,” even though they have not earned the proper certifications.

Materials that may be found in an organic pillow include the following:

Natural/Organic Latex

Latex is a rubber-like substance derived from the sap of rubber trees. Once extracted, latex is processed using either the Dunlop or Talalay method to yield a foam that is resilient, breathable, and responsive. Many sleepers find latex more supportive than memory foam, which tends to sink more.

Some pillows contain synthetic latex, which is primarily made of petrochemicals. The latex may also be blended, meaning it contains a mix of natural and synthetic latex. According to the GOLS, latex must be at least 95 percent natural to be considered “organic.” However, it’s important to note that latex is never 100 percent organic because some chemicals are needed to produce latex foam.

The term “natural latex” is not regulated to the same extent as organic latex. Generally, natural latex contains up to 30 percent petrochemicals and at least 70 percent natural sap.

Organic Cotton

Cotton is a natural fiber that may be grown organically, meaning it has not been genetically modified and is grown without chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program (NOP) oversees organic cotton certifications nationwide. According to the NOP, any product seeking certification must consist of at least 95 percent organic materials.

Other organizations oversee organic cotton certification at the international level. In order to receive the GOTS certification, a pillow must contain at least 70 percent organic materials. The remaining 30 percent is also subject to certain material restrictions, such as polyfoam and formaldehyde. The GOTs also covers “the processing, manufacturing, packaging, labelling, trading and distribution” of organic textiles.

The Textile Exchange is another international organization. This entity awards the Organic 100 Content Standard (OE 100) to products made entirely from organic materials, and the Organic Blended Content Standard (OE Blended) to products containing some organic components.

Natural/Organic Wool

Wool is commonly used as a pillow fill because it is very soft, but also fairly supportive. The material is also highly breathable, and can wick away moisture from the sleeper’s body.

Natural wool must be sheared from sheep, lambs, or goats. In order to be considered organic, the USDA lists the following conditions:

  • The wool may not be genetically engineered in any way.
  • Beginning in the third trimester of gestation, each individual animal must receive organic-certified food, foraging/pasture, and bedding.
  • At least 30 percent of the animal’s diet must consist of dry matter consumed while grazing in an outdoor pasture environment.
  • Synthetic hormones and medicines are mostly prohibited. For approved synthetic medicines, livestock owners must first attempt to treat their animals using disease prevention methods. Furthermore, any pasture where animals graze cannot be treated with chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers.

For wool producers seeking an organic certification, the USDA also prohibits the practice of dipping, which involves bathing sheep in pesticides to rid them of pests. Mulesing, or the removal of skin around the animal’s hindquarters to prevent flystrike, is also prohibited.

The GOTS oversees certification of organic wool at the international level. A product containing wool must be at least 70 percent organic to receive this certification.

Down and Feathers

Some pillows contain down, the soft inner plumage found on ducks and geese. The material is very soft and lightweight. Although some pills contain only down, most supplement the down with coarser outer feathers from the same birds.

In recent years, down and feather producers have come under fire for certain practices that are considered cruel. This includes the removal of down and feathers from live birds, which may also be known as “live-plucking” or “molt-harvesting,” as well as force-feeding and unsanitary living conditions.

The Responsible Down Standard was created to protect ducks and geese from these practices. Brands selling 100 percent down products can seek this certification, which involves an onsite audit of all farm and slaughterhouse facilities.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also regulates how down and feather products are sold. According to the FTC, a pillow or other product listed as “100 percent down” or “pure down” cannot contain any feather fill. For products with a mix of down and feathers, an accurate ratio – such as 70 percent down, 30 percent feathers – must be listed when selling the product.

Other Pillow Materials

In addition to latex, cotton, wool, and down/feathers, the following materials may be found in organic and natural pillows:

  • Buckwheat Hulls: Buckwheat hulls are the hard exterior casings around buckwheat kernels. As a pillow fill, the hulls provide a very firm surface with resilient support. Organic buckwheat pillows must be made from hulls grown and harvested without chemical agents. Most buckwheat pillows have organic cotton covers, as well.
  • Kapok Fibers: Fibers from the kapok tree have a light, feathery consistency that makes the material a good substitute for goose or duck down.
  • Silk: Silk is a fibrous material produced by the silkworm for building cocoons. When processed into a fabric, silk is exceptionally soft and lightweight. For pillows, silk is normally used as a cover material.

Lastly, it’s important to note that some materials should never be considered natural or organic, despite  marketing claims to the contrary. For example, memory foam is a purely synthetic material. Although some brands tout “eco-friendly” or “green” memory foam, it is almost always made entirely from chemicals and other synthetic components.

Another material to question is “bamboo fabric,” also known as rayon from bamboo. The material is relatively eco-friendly because bamboo does not require chemical fertilizers or pesticides. However, the fabric is technically a synthetic because chemical processes are used during production.

Additional Certifications

When looking for a new pillow, shoppers may notice other green certifications for materials and manufacturing processes. These certifications do not necessarily mean the pillow is organic, or even all-natural, but eco-conscious buyers can use them to compare different models. These certifications include:

  • OEKO-TEX Standard 100: The International Association for Research and Testing in the Field of Textile and Leather Ecology (also known as OEKO-TEX) awards this certification. It is granted to companies that meet acceptable emission levels for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, and other substances that are harmful to humans. OEKO-TEX also awards the OEKO-TEX Made in Green certification to companies that use sustainable manufacturing processes.
  • CertiPUR-US: This certification is most commonly associated with polyfoam and memory foam products. It tests for harmful substances in foam, such as lead and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), as well as harmful emission levels. CertiPUR-US is considered a top certification for products with polyfoam because this material is completely synthetic, making it ineligible for GOTS certification.
  • Eco-Institut: Eco-Institut is headquartered in Germany. The organization tests mattresses, pillows, and other bedding materials for harmful substances and emission levels.
  • GreenGuard: GreenGuard tests mattresses and other bedding products for levels of VOC off-gassing. The standard GreenGuard certification indicates acceptable off-gassing levels, while the GreenGuard Gold certification is awarded for products that produce little to no off-gassing.
  • Cradle to Cradle: This organization evaluates organic materials based on how sustainably they are produced. Specific criteria include carbon emissions, water conservation, and ecological footprint.
  • Global Recycled Standard: In addition to the Organic Content Standard, Textile Exchange also provides this certification for products that contain recycled, sustainably produced components.

This list of certifications is not exhaustive. Consumers should take note of all certifications listed for a pillow model, then research each one to ensure they are trustworthy, unbiased, and independent.

Organic Pillow Performance Ratings

The term “organic pillow” is fairly broad, since a pillow with this distinction can contain a wide range of different materials. The table below lists some construction details, pricing information, and pros and cons for four of the most common natural/organic pillow types.

Pillow Type Buckwheat Down/Feather Latex Wool
Construction Pillows contain hulls, the hard outer casings found around buckwheat kernels. Pillows contain a combination of down, the softer inner plumage of geese and ducks, and coarser outer feathers. Some pillows are 100% down, and others are 100% feathers, but most contain a blend of the two. Pillows contain latex, a material derived from rubber tree sap. The latex may be shredded or consist of a single piece. Pillows contain wool sheared from sheep, lambs, or goats.
Pros Very supportive Consistent temperature neutrality thanks to steady interior airflow Adjustable loft by adding or removing hulls Exceptionally soft and lightweight Very durable Sleeps cool for most people Durable and resistant to wear-and-tear Strong temperature neutrality Comfortable balance of conforming and support Very breathable, with moisture-wicking properties Very soft and lightweight Adjustable loft by adding or removing fill
Cons Pillows are too firm and heavy for some Some odor potential May feel too soft and be prone to excessive sinkage Moderate to strong odor potential Pillows can be very heavy and difficult to adjust Strong odor potential Not as durable as other organic/natural pillow materials Moderate odor potential
Availability Rare Wide Wide Rare
Average Price Range $50 to $75 $70 to $100 (all/mostly down) $25 to $50 (all/mostly feathers) $40 to $80 $60 to $90

Important Considerations for Organic Pillow Shoppers

When shopping for an organic pillow and browsing different brands and models, here are a few factors to keep in mind:

  • Which Certifications (if Any) Has the Pillow Received? In order to be considered organic, a pillow should be certified by the GOTS/GOLS, the Organic Content Standard, or another prominent certifying body. Pillows advertised as organic without certifications to back up the claim should be questioned.
  • Which Type of Organic Pillow Will Work Best for You? Each subcategory of organic pillow carries specific pros and cons. Latex pillows, for example, are ideal for hot sleepers and those who enjoy supportive, responsive surfaces for their head and neck. A down/feather pillow may be more suitable for sleepers who prefer very soft surfaces, while buckwheat pillows are the best option for those who like very firm surfaces.
  • What Is Your Shopping Budget? Organic pillows are generally more expensive than those made from synthetic components. This is due in part to the costly manufacturing inputs and processes needed to ensure organic production. The most expensive pillow types include organic latex, all-down, and buckwheat. Wool, down/feather, and natural latex pillows tend to be cheaper by comparison – but still expect to pay at least $60 to $70 for a single model.
  • What Is Your Ideal Pillow Loft? “Loft” refers to the pillow’s thickness when it has been fluffed to a full shape. Some pillow types, such as buckwheat and wool, offer adjustable loft, whereby owners simply add or remove the fill to change the thickness. However, customers seeking a latex or down/feather pillow should make sure the thickness meets their sleep preferences, since very few of these pillows can be adjusted for loft.
  • Do You Prefer Heavy or Light Pillows? Organic pillows tend to be either especially heavy or especially light. Buckwheat pillows, for example, can weigh up to 10 pounds. This makes them difficult for some sleepers to move and adjust during the night, but the pillows are also less prone to slipping around in bed. Latex pillows can also be very heavy. Down/feather and wool pillows tend to be very light, which makes them easier to move but also more likely to slip around in bed.
  • Does the Pillow Seller Offer a Sleep Trial? A sleep trial allows customers to test out a new pillow for a certain length of time (usually 100 nights or less), and then return the pillow for a full or partial refund before the trial expires if they are not satisfied. Sleep trials can be very useful, especially for customers testing out a new pillow type, but some brands do not allow buyers to return pillows.
  • Does the Pillow Come with a Warranty? Most pillow warranties cover the product for three years or less, and many manufacturers do not offer one. If a warranty is important, be sure to research the brand to find out how long the warranty lasts and which defects are covered.

Additional Resources

For more information about pillows and other green bedding products, please visit the following pages on Tuck.com

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