The Modern Dane Makes Beautiful Bedding from Eco-Friendly Linen

Linen comes from flax, which uses fewer inputs than cotton and lasts longer.

Modern Dane bedsheets

The Modern Dane

Sheets are a necessity for any good night's sleep, but not all are created equal. Here at Treehugger we are proponents of natural fibers over synthetics. They are better for the environment (no microplastic fibers shedding in the wash) and nicer for sleep (more breathable and less prone to overheating). But even among natural sheet fibers, there is considerable variation in quality and experience.

If you've always used cotton sheets, now might be a good time to discover the wonders of linen, which comes from the flax plant. Linen takes comfort, quality, and eco-friendliness to the next level, as explained by Jacob Andsager. He is the founder of The Modern Dane, a bedding company that sells sheets, duvet covers, and pillowcases from all-European grown flax linen that adheres to the highest environmental and toxicological standards set by OEKO-TEX. 

Andsager spoke to Treehugger about the differences between cotton and linen, and why linen should be every eco-minded shopper's go-to choice. "Cotton comes from the cotton plant and most of the world’s cotton is grown in the US, Uzbekistan, China and India," he explained. "Linen is fabric made from the fibers of the flax plant, which is native to a specific coastal region of Europe, spanning from northern France to the Netherlands." Cotton, despite its ubiquity, has many serious environmental and ethical problems, which is why it's sometimes called "the world's dirtiest crop."

blue bedsheets

The Modern Dane

Andsager went on, explaining that cotton is "a magnet to insects, requiring $2-3bn of pesticides every year... Cotton also requires an incredible 2,700 liters (713 gallons) of water just to produce one shirt. This causes serious problems considering that 57% of global cotton production takes place in areas of high or extreme water stress, contributing to environmental and health issues in those areas."

Enter flax, which resolves many of those issues just by virtue of being a different plant.

"It is naturally pest-resistant and requires no fertilizers or pesticides. Retting — the process by which the linen fiber is separated from the straw — requires only rain and sunshine to soften the stalks. The result is that the surrounding countryside is spared from toxic runoff and people are spared exposure to harmful chemicals. And flax doesn't require any irrigation other than what it naturally receives through rainfall. This saves 100 billion gallons of water annually over cotton farming."

The benefits don't stop there. The hollow flax fiber allows the body to thermoregulate, meaning it's kept cool in summer and warm in winter; the resulting linen fabric is naturally hypoallergenic and antibacterial, which makes it perfect for sensitive skin; and it can absorb up to 20% of its weight in water, keeping skin dry while sleeping at night.

Linen sheets improve over time, getting softer with every wash. "Instead of pilling and thinning, flax fabric tends to get softer and more luxurious with wash and wear. This is because the pectin that binds the fibers gradually dissolves when in contact with water... without losing its trademark strength." Andsager pointed out that linen bedding often lasts a decade or more, and is sometimes handed down through generations in Europe.

The Modern Dane full bed view

The Modern Dane

While there is some flax production in places like Eastern Europe and China, these crops are outside the plant's native region and thus need more inputs to keep pests away. The Modern Dane, however, uses only flax from Belgium, France, and The Netherlands, which is also known as the "Flax Belt" for its ideal growing conditions, characterized by "loamy soil and a temperature oceanic climate." 

The Modern Dane's fitted sheets, duvet covers, and pillowcases are indeed beautiful, and have five-star reviews online from clients, many of whom say they plan to order more pieces. The designs are simple and minimalist, inspired by Scandinavian design principles and Andsager's own Danish heritage (he grew up there, but now lives in the U.S.). For anyone needing new bedding and who can afford a worthwhile splurge, The Modern Dane is a store worth considering.