I woke up one morning to find a hole ripped in my sheets. My husband quickly put on his detective hat to get to the bottom of it. Sure, he wasn’t pacing around the room rubbing his chin, but he certainly had a hunch. He believed it was my wedding ring to blame. However, as a dutiful Watson, I reminded him that we have a two-year-old who believes our bed is a jungle gym. Either way, it was time to buy some new sheets.

I woke up one morning to find a hole ripped in my sheets. My husband quickly put on his detective hat to get to the bottom of it. Sure, he wasn’t pacing around the room rubbing his chin, but he certainly had a hunch. He believed it was my wedding ring to blame. However, as a dutiful Watson, I reminded him that we have a two-year-old who believes our bed is a jungle gym. Either way, it was time to buy some new sheets.

Having spent a lot of time lately thinking about DFL, I immediately jumped to the conclusion that this was a blessing in disguise. It’s my opportunity to be a conscious shopper. No really, I did that. You know, because I’m a huge nerd.

First, let’s consider my old way of shopping – how I had gotten these sheets that are now making their way to the rag pile in our garage. They’re 100% cotton sheets from HomeGoods. I got them as our summer set when we purchased our new king-size bed. (I live in New England, our winter sheets are flannel). We were moving into our new house and I had been spending lots of money on furnishings, so there wasn’t much in the way of a sheet budget. My husband and I needed something to sleep on, and while I had spent weeks trying to find the bed I was going to be using for the next 30 years, I didn’t have that kind of time to research sheets. Finally. I think colors, or at least color coordination, is a requirement for any sheets purchased. So my list of requirements was set as follows: Summer weight, price, how quickly I could get them, and color.

Thankfully, this time I have the opportunity to really delve into the details. I notice too that, while I have always cared about sustainability, it just wasn’t on my radar when buying something like sheets. I certainly understand now, where I didn’t last time I was in the market for sheets, that our purchases show the values we want to support. We’re all speaking with our wallets, consciously or unconsciously. So, this time, I’m trying to be more deliberate in what values my wallet supports in the marketplace.

Let us consider my new conscious frame for buying my replacement sheets using the 8 DFL tenets:

  • Lovable – I am looking for soft sheets that feel cool when you get into them, also anything that would make me more inclined to a particular company such as lengthy return periods or product-giving matches would be great.
  • Maintainable – The criteria here are machine-washable and either wrinkle-resistant or looks good wrinkled. I don’t care what Martha says, I’m not taking a cool iron to my sheets. 
  • Sustainable – I’m looking for sheets made from renewable materials with good-growing practices.
  • Guarantee-able – My consideration here is, how long will my sheets last before I have to replace them again? 
  • Changeable – Sheets are an inherently changeable element of a bed, so while I’m not expecting to find sheets that can change colors, or are somehow reconfigurable from king to queen-size, I am expecting to find sheets that coordinate with the colors in my room.
  • Upgradeable – Though it would be cool to find sheets that can make the bed for me, what I’m expecting to see in this category is features like European envelope closure on pillowcases or other smart designs.
  • Sustain-able – I am looking for a good value in sheets, that might mean something more expensive, but if they add value to my life for a long time, that’s worth it. I’m ready to make an investment and not just get a quick placeholder. 
  • End-of-life-able – King-sized sheets are great things to have around the garage to use for drop cloths, or even a makeshift fort for small children, etc. so that’s definitely where my currently defunct sheets are headed. But after that, I would want to know that, as long as I don’t get chemicals on them in my repurposing, the sheets would be biodegradable. So, I’m really looking for natural fibers. Unless I find a company that has some other specific end-of-life plan.

Before I dive into the fun stuff, or as some other people call it, shopping, I realized I had to do a little research of these criteria to be able to judge specific sheet sets and companies. Specifically for guarantee-able, I needed to understand the average lifetime for sheets. Secondly, I needed to understand the world of sustainability for sheets – what types of certifications could I be looking for, and what are the most sustainable materials?

When it comes to how long sheets should last, the information differs greatly. Google’s top result said 2-3 years, but detailed sources suggest 5-6, 7-8, or even 10-12. Most of the sites with longer timescales came with a caveat that they refer to how long cotton fiber sheets should last while advocating that you wash the sheets in cold water with light detergents to prolong their lifespan. Of course, some of these figures come from the blogs of bedding companies themselves, so we’ll have to take that into consideration. But, I think I can safely say, 3 years is the low end of the spectrum and 6 years seems to be a safe average.

Cotton, Bamboo, Eucalyptus and Flax (which Linen is made from) growing in the wild.

The next thing I looked at was sustainability. Apparently, they make sheets out of eucalyptus, I didn’t know that. (I want to note here that I’m writing this as a consumer, I’m relying on any certifications or marketing materials the companies are sharing. I do not have an understanding of their full supply chain or environmental impact). Generally, I found 4 materials out there that are naturally renewable: Cotton (Including Percale and long-staple cotton), linen, bamboo, and eucalyptus. Buffy claims eucalyptus uses 10-times less water than cotton during production, and I know bamboo has a shorter growing cycle than cotton as well, so I’m rating those higher than cotton. Many of the companies stated they were Oeko-Tex Certified, which means all of the components of the textile from fabric and thread, even the labels have been tested and contain no harmful chemicals. This is great, but that’s pretty much table stakes of what I would expect.

After this framing and research, I came up with the below chart for 6 different sheet sets. However, I wasn’t able to fill in every category based on the information I found on the company’s website. These sheets range in price from $80 to $280 (though I did see a set of Belgium Linen Sheets for over $600 out there) and come with various durability ratings. Only one of these companies had any specific reference to the end of the life of the product, which to me was one of the most eye-opening parts of this process; the idea that these companies are promoting consumption with no thought to what happens to the end of that consumption.

Sheet SetLovableSustainableGuarantee-ableChangeableUpgradeableSustain-ableEnd-of-life-able
Parachute PercaleCool to the touch

60- day return

Bedding made in family-owned factories
Long-Staple Cotton grown in Egypt, sewn in Portugal. Shipping mailers made from 80% recycled content and recyclable

Oeko-Tex certified
Not covered by WarrantyDark Greys I likeChoice of back open or side open$239
Estimate 3-5 years
Brooklinen Luxe Core SateenButtery smooth

365-day return
100% long-staple cotton

Oeko-Tex Certified
Lifetime Warranty. If our product rips or frays, we’ll make it rightDark Greys I likeEnvelope Closures

Short Side label on fitted sheets
$179

Estimate 3-5 years
Buffy
Eucalyptus lyocell
Cool to the touch, softer with every wash100% Eucalyptus, which uses 10 x less water than cotton in growing. Dyed from pomegranate and tea

Hypoallergenic

We offset the CO2 emissions of all shipments from our factory partners to our distribution center to your doorstep and in the future, we aim to offset the emissions generated by our entire supply chain
Eucalyptus lyocell is as durable as cotton

No Warranty mentioned
Light grey will work in room $229

Estimate 4-7 years
Our road map to a closed-loop supply chain includes plans for a return take-back program that will allow us to turn worn Buffy products into new comfy essentials

Currently Biodegradable
West Elm Belgian LinenCool to the touch, softer with every wash

30-day return
100% Belgian Flax

Fairtrade certified

Constructed in china
Stronger and more durable than cotton

Not covered by Warranty
Dark greys I like$280

Estimate 4-7 years
EttitudeCool to the touch, softer with every wash

30-day return
100% organic bamboo FSC-certified sustainable forests

Packaging is designed to be resealed, which means it can be reused to reduce waste. We utilize every extra inch of our 100% biodegradable fabric to create the reusable drawstring bags

Oeko-Tex certified

Hypoallergenic
No Warranty mentionedDark greys I likeEuropean closures

Charcoal embedded in sheets
$198

Estimate 4-7 years
Macy’s Parcel Cotton90-day return policy100% percale cottonNot covered by WarrantyGrey and white pattern I like$180 on sale for $80

Estimate 3-5 years

* Note: I do not have a column for maintainable because all were machine-washable and suggested using cold water and mild detergent. However, some of these brands did go to lengths trying to encourage their consumers to air dry or use wool dryer balls to reduce energy used in the dryer

Photo by Sidekix Media on Unsplash

I’m not going to share which set I ended up getting, but I will share that looking at this purchase through the DFL lens certainly expanded where I went to look for products. It also made me more critical in evaluating them. I will also share that I did not choose the most sustainable product. That’s because I was not willing to settle for a color other than what I wanted. But I think this speaks to the importance consumers place on design.

The point of DFL is not to be a militant hippie who only wears clothing they sew themselves. The point is to find products that utilize good design to make life easy and enjoyable. It’s about products that are good for the planet because of the decisions made during the design phase. Products that allow consumers to change their habits in more sustainable less consumptive ways. I never would have thought a hole in my sheets would lead to all of this. But I know I can feel good about my purchase decisions. And I now have a foundation for many of my future product purchases as well.

Jessie Schwartz

About Jessie Schwartz

Jessie Schwartz-Kwasnik joined the Product Design team at Lovesac in 2017. Before that she spent six years in management consulting working on PLM implementations including new product launch processes.  Her passion for sustainable design started from reading the Lorax as a child and continued through her education at Dartmouth College. She was excited to put her beliefs into reality while working at Lovesac and to try to live up to the DFL principals.

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