Why Natural Fibers

Why Natural Fibers

Welcome to Second Nature, a Q+A series with Jute founder, Ali Davin, that explores all things healthy living, with a fond emphasis on that thing she does best—interior design.

Whether you live in a climate that changes with the seasons, your linens wear out, or just because you feel like a change (no judgment!), soft goods come into your home more regularly than anything else. Here’s why you should always choose natural ones. 


Why should you use natural fibers when you decorate?

Natural fibers are the easiest way to not bring chemicals into your house. People buy new bed linens, towels, sofa pillows, and rugs to update their home seasonally or just make little changes. And that’s great, but a lot of times, those items are full of pesticides, fire-retardants, formaldehyde, you name it. If you are constantly refreshing these things, your house may not get a chance to off-gas these toxic chemicals. But if you go for wool, cotton, linen, or anything that’s natural, you can avoid that. 


Where should you start?

Your bedroom is the most important room, because that’s where you recharge. You want breathable fibers in your sleeping environment. Wool mattress toppers are great because wool adjusts to your temperature and wicks away moisture—it’s a naturally intuitive fiber. If you’re allergic to wool, cover it with an organic cotton cover and a few layers of sheets. I like linen sheets because the hand is so soft and similar to wool in that it adjusts to your body temperature. I sleep on a 100% organic latex pillow with a cotton cover—there are all different kinds so you can find one that works for you. 


Are there specific brands you recommend?

Libeco Belgian linens are a favorite. I use their organic line and love it. Coyuchi makes amazing organic cotton towels—they have a great program called Coyuchi for Life. Every year, you send them back your old towels and they recycle them, then you get new ones. Especially if you like white towels, they don’t stay bright for a long time. This way, you get new ones and it’s better for the environment. 


What about your furniture?

Reupholstering something you already own is the most eco-friendly way to approach it. You can buy wool, hemp, or linen fabric and have a local upholstery shop do it. It’s not always more cost-effective, but it’s better for the environment. If the frame is made well, the furniture lasts forever. If you’re refreshing your pillows, same thing—buy fabric online and have it shipped to you. You can even go to the dry-cleaner and have them make you new covers so you don’t have to buy new inserts and waste feathers.


Is it ever ok to use synthetics?

Honestly, no. People get really obsessed with stain-resistant fabrics, but those are coated in a chemical concoction that you don’t want in your home. I have clients who will say, “I need a chemically treated rug because I have a puppy or small children,” so I suggest high-quality wool carpets instead. Wool is easily cleanable and it’s durable.  It’s definitely an investment but if you view it as that and not as something you’re going to replace, it’s just the best material. 


Wool is flame-retardant, naturally intuitive, renewable, and stain-resistant. 

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