Organic bedding – sweet dreams are made of this!
Is your bed harming your health? If you are one of millions of people in the UK suffering from allergies than the answer may be yes.
Already more than 150 million people throughout Europe suffer from some form of chronic hypersensitivity and, according to the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI), more than 50 per cent of all Europeans will be susceptible to at least one condition by 2021.The UK is one of the top three countries in the world for allergies with more than 21 million adults suffering. The number of people being diagnosed is growing at a rate of about 5 per cent a year and half of those are children. It’s estimated that about 50 percent of youngsters develop one or more allergies within the first 18 years of life.
In Scotland around one in three of the population is affected by allergies at some point in their lives, particularly conditions such as eczema, asthma and hay fever, compared to one in four south of the border.
Allergic diseases cost NHS Scotland over £130million a year and account for more than 4 per cent of GP consultations. And, these figures don’t include the even bigger cost to society from days off work or youngsters who end up under performing in exams and whose careers are blighted as a result.
While food accounts for many allergic reactions textiles can also play a major part. More than 8,000 synthetic chemicals are used in the textile industry leading to claims that some may contribute to various illnesses, including infertility, respiratory diseases, contact dermatitis and cancer.
According to the the Swedish Chemical Agency (Kemi), which recently issued a global warning over the poor knowledge about the chemical content of textiles, there is a need for tighter EU legislation.A report compiled by the agency reveals that 10 percent of textile-related substances are of potential concern to human health, a number of which are associated with developmental effects or increasing allergy risks.
One of the most common sources of allergy is bedding. Many modern sheets, duvet covers and pillow cases are sprayed with insecticides and pesticides or dyed using heavy metals and then treated with more chemicals to make them “easy care”, crease resistant and easy to iron. This treatment contains chemicals which can seep into the body creating a ‘toxic soup’ which can have unpredictable negative health effects.
Changing to organic bedding may help counteract the threat. Not only is organic cotton beautifully soft and comforting for sensitive skin it is guaranteed to be 100 percent toxic-free. It’s great for allergy sufferers, those with chemical sensitivities or children suffering from eczema.
Children are especially sensitive to chemical overload as their growing skin is more porous than that of an adult and has the potential to absorb residues more easily. Considering babies spend about 70 per cent of their first year in bed the quality of their bedding is really important.“All our bed linen is carefully monitored and tested at each stage of the manufacturing process to check the level of chemical residue to ensure it is indeed a natural product and the risk of allergic reaction on skin contact is reduced,” said Stephanie McIntosh of Fou Furnishings, a Glasgow-based organic bed, bath and table linens company certified by the Fairtrade Foundation and the UK Soil Association to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).
“It’s amazing how many chemicals there are in every single step of the textile process from what’s grown in the ground right through to manufacturing. A lot of our customers have severe chemical sensitivity but can use our products.”
“When I started there was no Global Organic Textile Standard. Good things take time and patience,” said Stephanie, who has spent the last several years creating a truly international business.
“After a long time searching product and bed linen specifications and designs I found three organic suppliers who could make what I wanted to the specified quality and design.”
Available in a number of stores throughout the UK Fou Furnishings’ products can be found in a growing number of homes, hotels, B&Bs and lodges from Iceland to the Isle of Islay and Cornwall to Canada.
In addition to being healthier organic cotton bedding has the advantage of being more durable and longer lasting as it is made from long fibres which keep it looking fresh even with frequent laundering. The high-quality thread count means the linen does not need to be replaced as frequently and because it is from organic and Fair Trade sources it is more socially responsible.