Sustainable Ethical Interiors – Bedrooms 2023

In articles on sustainable interiors I looked at living rooms, and bathrooms and now the next stop on this tour of the sustainable ethical home is the bedroom. Considering it’s where we spend up to a third of our day in this room it behooves us to ensure it’s as healthy a space as possible.

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Picking Healthy Sustainable Wall Finishes

If you’re planning on painting your walls, then check out my article on Eco & Natural Paint. If you’re thinking wall paper I’ve listed a few brands to consider in my article on Sustainable Ethical Living Rooms.

If you fancy a feature wall be sure to make sure you don’t buy a plastic coated paper or vinyl. It will mark easier but it’ll be recyclable and often cheaper. If you fancy making your own here’s a quick video on how to make a repeating wallpaper pattern.

Picking Healthy Sustainable Flooring

Based on my research and 15 years of working in the interiors industry in Ireland the least harmful option for flooring would be a solid timber floor that’s only be treated with natural finishes, like linseed or hemp oil or beeswax. Solid timber flooring will expand and contract more than engineered flooring but I’m specifically mentioning solid because laminated / engineered flooring is bonded with glue, which will emit VOC‘s. In terms of sustainability it would be best if you could source second-hand flooring but if that’s not possible select timber flooring that’s be certified as being sustainably grown and grown in Europe if possible to limit the travel distance.

I have managed to find a couple of wood flooring brands with an Eco Label, which is awarded to companies with products that use recycled fibers or virgin fibers from sustainably managed forests, limit substances harmful to health and the environment, increase quality control and product durability and limit energy consumption during production.

There are natural fibre carpet on the market made from 100% wool, or jute or sisal but unless they’ve been certified as being free of toxic chemicals you can’t really assume that they’re as healthy as you might first imagine. If you do want to go for a natural fibre carpet then contact Natural Flooring or Deco Designs in Dublin, or if in the UK, Alternative Flooring.

The only ‘greenish’ carpet underlay I’ve see on offer in Ireland is PU underlay made from foam offcuts bonded together. The traditional type of underlay was made from wool and hair and you can still source it but it’s 3 times the price of the recon underlay I have come across the company UK Texfelt that makes a range of underlays, almost all of which are made from recycled materials. 

Natural & Recycled Fibre Rugs

If you need a rug to warm up that timber flooring or carpet then check out the previous article on sustainable ethical living rooms where I mention some sustainable suppliers.

Wooden & Metal Bedroom Furniture

Naturally the main feature in a bedroom is the bed and when choosing one you have two sustainable options, buy pre-loved or buy from a brand that minimises it’s impact on the planet.

Unfortunately vintage bed frames are a lot narrower than modern ones and so have fallen out of favour with home owners so if you want the comfort of a modern bed with the sustainability of buying second hand the best thing to do is probably buy something relatively modern. You’ll find a list of places in my article on Where to buy Second-life Furniture

Metal is a long-lasting, durable and infinitely recyclable material so makes a good option when it comes to bedframes. I couldn’t find any suppliers in Ireland but in the UK there is the Original Bedstead Company, who offer iron and brass beds and deliver to Ireland.

Another family run metal bed company, this time in the UK, is the Wrought Iron and Brass Bed Company. Their beds also come with a lifetime guarantee.

Feel Good Eco Beds hand make beds with a lifetime guarantee in Devon from certified sustainably sourced solid wood. They are sold in flat pack form and according to the company, are very easy to assemble. The company guarantees that the beds will never squeak or weaken from the day they are put together. They also state that all of their finishes are non-toxic and are either low or zero VOC rated. The company use timber off-cuts in wood stoves that heat the workshops and shavings and sawdust are given to local stables as horse bedding.

At UK company The Natural Bed Company (see photo above) they only use timber from sustainable sources and never use endangered tropical hardwoods. Their pine is from Scandinavia and their hardwoods – ash, oak, maple, cherry, walnut and beech are from the USA or northern Europe. All beds are made in their factory in the UK and are guaranteed for 12 years.

German company Dormiente make a range of beds from sustainably harvested hardwoods, mostly from Europe, finished with natural oil. Their beds are made in Germany and can be bought through a range of resellers, including one in Ireland called Healthbuild.

Revival beds make a range of long-lasting beds in Nottinghamshire from oak grown in sustainably managed forests in Europe, finishes in natural wax. They also use leather sourced from Scotland. Some of their beds are made from American timber too, which would naturally have a higher carbon footprint.

If you’re sourcing built in furniture for your bedroom ask for untreated solid timber or formaldehyde free-mdf. A couple in the UK had to rip out £18,000 worth of custom made furniture after tests in their bedroom revealed it to have more than 13 times the air quality limit for formaldehyde.

Sustainable Bed Linen

Where to buy Natural Organic

I’ve written a separate article on where to buy organic cotton bedlinen in Europe. Click on the link to visit it.

Vintage Bedlinen

Not necessarily natural and definitely not organic but something that I’m in love with is the original vintage 60s & 70s bedlinen from Groovy Duvet

Etsy is also a good spot to source vintage bedlinen, particularly French linen sheets.

Where to buy Eco Duvets, Mattress Toppers & Pillows

One main consideration when choosing these items is air-miles. Ideally choose a brand as local as possible and one that sources it’s materials as close to home as possible. Also make sure that down or feather filled items are ethically sourced and avoid the horrendous practice of live plucking.

  • Baavat (Ireland and UK – duvets, pillows and mattress toppers filled with locally sourced wool)
  • Woolow (Ireland – pillows in a cotton casing filled with wool from sheep kept on the estate of Dunblaney House. The wool has been certified by ENCO Global testing Services Ltd Laboratories in the UK in 2018 and confirmed to be 100% natural and chemical free.
  • Marks & Spencer (Ireland & UK – duvet made from recycled polyester in a polyester cover)
  • Fine Bedding company (UK – recycled filling in either sustainable sourced cotton cover or recycled plastic cover)
  • Alpaca Comfort (UK – duvets, pillows and mattress shoppers filled with UK alpaca wool)
  • Devon Duvets (UK – duvets, pillows and mattress shoppers filled with UK wool and organic bamboo duvets)
  • Peony Box (UK – OEKO-TEX certified mulberry silk pillows and duvets)
  • Adam Curtis (UK – Shetland wool filled pillows and duvets)
  • The Natural Store (UK – etailer of silk filled duvets)
  • The Natural Bed Company (UK – etailer of natural fibre and organic duvets, mattress toppers and pillows)
  • Natural Sleep (UK)

Where to buy Natural Mattresses

In addition to concern over the air miles of your mattress you’re also going to want to consider the health implication of what it’s made from and what it’s been treated with. Unfortunately some mattresses, including some organic ones, have to use fire retardants in order to comply with legislation. There is great concern over these chemicals and their impact on our health. Although chemicals are banned once they’re found to be harmful, they get replaced with new un-tested chemicals, which is hardly ideal. Some companies have started to devise chemical-free fire retardants or use materials that are inherently fire retardant like wool.

  • The Spinery (Ireland – mattress made from natural latex, wool and Tencel and completely free of chemical fire treatment and adhesives)
  • Natural Sleep (Ireland – mattresses made from natural and organic materials, free of toxins including fire-retardant. They offer and 5 year warranty and use recyclable plastic and cardboard packaging)
  • Compass Furniture Ireland (Ireland – mattresses made from natural materials, including organic cotton)
  • Cottonsafe (UK – natural and organic mattresses completely free of chemical fire treatment and adhesives)
  • Latexsense (UK – This company told me by email that they don’t need to use FR chemicals on some of their mattresses but this information isn’t visible on their website, which is strange to say the least)
  • Natural Sleep Company (Ireland – natural latex, organic cotton mattresses)
  • Natural Mat (UK -mattresses made from natural and organic materials)
  • Dojo Eco – (UK – natural and organic mattresses)
  • Abaca (UK – natural and organic mattresses)
  • Myakka (UK – mattresses made with natural materials)
  • Feel Good Eco Beds (UK – mattresses made from local sheep’s wool)
  • Natural Sleep (UK – natural fibre mattresses)
  • Hypnos (UK – made with natural, recyclable materials. The company has also been carbon neutral since 2011, offsetting it’s emissions through environmental charities)
  • John Ryan by Design (UK – made with natural materials. some locally sourced)
  • Herdy Sleep (UK – natural mattresses made with fair-trade British wool)
  • The Wool Room (UK – glue-free mattresses made with traceable British wool)
  • Dormiente (Germany – natural materials and metal-free orthopaedic mattresses)
  • Coco-Mat (Global but closest store would be Holland – natural materials i.e. coconut fibre and latex)

Where to buy Less Harmful Mattresses

  • IKEA (Ireland – mattresses made with natural materials, with some synthetic)
  • Silentnight (UK – Foam and FR chemical free mattresses made with from recycled plastic bottles. They have also reduced their carbon emissions by 49% since 2018 and offset the remainder. They also aim to be carbon neutral by 2040. )

Natural and Recycled Throws / Blankets

We have some beautiful weavers in Ireland and a lot use natural fibres but the source of the fibres is not clearly expressed on their websites so I emailed a few to ask where they get their fibres from. For me using organic fibre is the top of the tree in terms of sustainability but only if it’s locally sourced and i’ve yet to find a weaver in Ireland working with locally-grown organic fibre. So the next best thing is to buy locally made throws from locally sourced material.

Zwartbles Ireland sell undyed, un-treated rugs made from the yarn of Irish Zwartbles sheep.

Connemara Wool is a new start-up offering a few 100% natural products include hand knit blankets made with Irish wool woven in Donegal.

Kilkenny based Cushendale Woollen Mills create blankets from 100% wool, a large proportion of which is sourced from Irish sheep farmers.

Studio Donegal in Ireland do a range of throws made with Irish wool, just be advised that Irish wool tends to be thicker and so throws made from it will be coarser than finer yarn, as well as the fact that these throws are handwoven.

John Hanley & Co in Ireland also use natural fibres to make their throws in Ireland from renewable energy. Their own water turbine produces approx. 30 percent of their electricity requirements with the balance provided by a company that produces all of their electricity from hydro generation.  I’ve emailed them to ask about the source of their fibre but never heard back.

Blarney Woollen Mills have a beautiful range of throws made from yarn salvaged from production off-cuts.

Made & Good (see photo) in the UK, which donates to charity with every purchase made, has some throws made in the UK from locally sourced natural fibres and fellow brit Aerende  stocks textiles made from natural fibres by people in the UK who have experienced disadvantage or are living with a disability.

Adam Curtis in the UK sells 100% British Wool Throw Collections made in Britain.

Celtic and Co in the UK sells wool blankets and sheepskin rugs. Their rugs are handmade in Cornwall and use a by-product of the food industry that would otherwise go to waste. They use sustainable natural and organic fabrics and they aim to source as much as possible in the UK in order to keep their carbon footprint as low as possible. They recycle widely in the company and print all catalogues and promotional literature on FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper, and offer a Carbon Neutral delivery service.

If you really want organic then White and Green have lovely pastle coloured organic cotton throws.

Further afield the Swedish jean company Nudie Jeans sells a recycled denim and cotton blanket.

Organic & Natural Fibre Curtains

Chandni Chowk in the UK sell ready-made Fairtrade hand-printed curtains but if you want to have your own made the following companies offer organic and natural fabrics by the metre.

If none of these stock what you need try searching organic fabrics on Etsy. 

Alternatively I’ve found in Murphy Sheehy in Montrose, D4 to be a great supplier of OEKO-TEX (free from toxins) natural fibre fabric.

Sustainable Lighting Options

In the bedroom light levels are of less of a concern than in other parts of the house so you can afford to be a bit playful with fittings and lamp shades you choose. Star Light Lanterns have been making star lamp shades out of paper since 1996. They are made durable high-quality paper, tested to British Standard tested and comply with BS EN 60598-1: 2008. The lanterns are hand made and printed by a small family business in India under fair working conditions, and the company have some very interesting points to make on their approach to fair trade on their website including ensuring that products shouldn’t just be for export only. The fact that the lamp shades are collapsible means they can be transported efficiently meaning less carbon emissions.

I’ve mentioned a few other lamp shade or lighting options in my article on Sustainable Ethical Living Room. Something with fringing or tassels from Shady and the Lamp would be particularly apt if you’re going for a boudoir feel, the paper lamps from Owl Paper lamps in Portugal would give a lovely soft light and a quirky decoration.

If nothing above tickles your fancy aim to buy fittings that

  • can take energy-efficient bulbs,
  • allow bulbs to be changed (a lot of lower-end models don’t facilitate this) and
  • are made of materials that are compostable and/or infinitely recyclable, like metal or unvarnished wood. Unfortunately glass components on lamps aren’t generally recyclable so best to avoid.

Sustainable Bedroom Accessories

If you’re not one of those individuals that hides their laundry baskets in a luxurious walk-in closet then you’re going to want something that looks nice while it does it’s dirty job.

Alternatively opt for a woven basket, which will be compostable at the end of it’s life. There are lots of fairtrade options on the market and stunning Irish made wicker ones, but given the bulky nature of these items there’s little point in me listing e-tailers that stock them. Better to seek out the sturdiest one you can find in a bricks and mortar shop or market in your locality.

Made & Good in the UK sell a gorgeous range of small planters, and as mentioned above, this company donates to charity for every purchase made.

Scottish company The Braided Rug Company also do a colourful range of dip-dyed organic jute baskets. On their website they explain that although not ‘fair trade’ accredited, they have visited and worked with the supplier of the jute, and can confidently say that their products are ethically sourced.

I think you’ve enough to be getting on with now. Sleep soundly and have a fabulous Christmas. Sugar, almost got away without mentioning it !!!!


PS – This time in previous years I published some ideas for Last Minute Christmas Crafts, Stunning Sustainable (and easy) Christmas Decorations and How to Wrap your Gifts the Eco Way

Published by Elaine Butler

I am a circular design consultant helping manfacturers prepare for the circular economy

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