Sleep Sustainably With Fair Trade, Organic Cotton Sheets

©. Jamie Barker for Homestead (used with permission)

Homestead is a California-based company that sells high-end ethical bedding at reasonable prices.

One childhood lesson that has stayed with me was my mother's admonition only to use cotton bedsheets. This was disappointing when I was young; I didn't get the Disney princess-themed sheets that my friends had, but instead I got crisp, smooth linens that never felt too hot or too cold. They were just right because, as my mom would say, they didn't have any polyester in them.

Her rule has stayed with me through adulthood. I still do not buy sheets with polyester because they don't breathe and they pill over time. My sheet collection is nice, but it's not fancy, comprised mostly of clean but worn hand-me-downs from friends and second-hand finds.

This fall, however, my collection took a boost with the arrival of a package from Homestead, a company that specializes in gorgeous bedsheets made from fair trade, organic cotton. In one fell swoop, all my boxes were ticked -- snowy-white cotton bedding that's ethically made and as environmentally friendly as it comes.

Those sheets went onto my bed, and they haven't come off it since, aside from washing. As soon as they're dry, I put those sheets right back on the bed because I don't want to use any others. Perhaps I've become spoiled, but I prefer to think of it as becoming aware of what a difference high-end, ethical construction can make.

woman with Homestead bedsheets

© Jamie Barker for Homestead (used with permission)

Homestead is a company worth checking out if you're in the market for bedsheets -- and who isn't? Its green standards are impressive. First of all, the cotton is organic and GOTS-certified. Organic cotton farming uses 71 percent less water and 62 percent less energy than conventional methods.

GOTS is a global processing standard for organic fibers and it guarantees that the cotton was grown without GMOs or pesticides; that it was woven without heavy metals in the weaving oil, synthetic sizing agents, or chlorine bleach, all of which are harmful to workers; that only low-impact dyes were used; and that all packaging is paper-based (no PVC allowed). Sure enough, my sheets arrived in a cardboard box with paper stuffing around it and a paper information card.

homestead sheet packaging

© Jamie Barker for Homestead (used with permission)

Second, the sheets are fair-trade certified. This means that the workers involved in growing, harvesting, and processing cotton, as well as the weavers and sewers, are treated well and paid fairly for their work. From the Homestead website:

"There is no forced, compulsory or child labor, a right to collective bargaining, no discrimination or abuse, a safe work environment, fair hours, fair wages, ethical recruiting, access to basic needs and services, and a channel to air grievances and concerns."

As far as quality is concerned, I've only had my sheets for a month now, but they've seen steady use and are getting softer with every wash. I chose percale, which is known for its cool, crisp, hotel-like feel, but sateen is Homestead's other option, with a softer, silkier feel. The company uses cotton from the Gossypium barbadense species, which is known for its unusually long cotton fibers. A longer fiber results in a finer, stronger yarn with minimal pilling, more durable weave, and really soft texture.

stack of sheets

© Jamie Barker for Homestead (used with permission)

Prices range from $199 to $249 for a full sheet set, depending on the size. This is comparable to brands offering similar products; or, as one friend told me, less than what she's spent on sheets over the years that weren't even close to meeting these production standards.

When I think of the hours spent lying between sheets (one-third of our lives, it's said), it makes sense to invest in a high-quality, non-toxic product.