The environmental bed
The researches in the context of the transnational educational partnership-project have shown that the global agriculture is contributing with a substantial part to the over exploitation and pollution of the drinking water world-wide. A major part has the cotton-production, which additionally is mainly produced in areas with a shortage of drinking water. The usage of animal products, such as down represents likewise a huge problem for us: On the one hand because the production of animal products has a major part of the encumbrance of water, on the other hand, the problems of animal husbandry are inextricable and we would like to support the idea of not using animal products.
The most spread alternatives on the market are products made from polyester (synthetic substance). But also this carries a number of problems with itself: First of all, these products are based on the resource oil/ petroleum. Additionally, the production process needs a lot of energy, uses a remarkably big amount of water and produces a lot of co2. Furthermore, polyester is not an ideal product as a bed cover for its characteristics with respect to the transportation of moisture.
Some producers already changed their production by using recycled polyester (made from used plastic bottles) which is improving the impact on the environment at least.
Fibers of Viscose represent an interesting alternative product. Viscose has very good characteristics with respect to the transportation of moisture and therefore is very suitable for bed covers. Additionally, there are modern ways of production, already in use on a large industrial scale in Austria. They have a positive environmental usage of water and energy could be reduced on a minimal level. The fibers are sold under the label “Tencel” and are increasingly used for beds. A current “life-circle study” has shown, that these Austrian tencel-products are very environmental friendly and even show positive effects on the climate. Also, the usage of water is reduced to a minimum.
Therefore we classify this product as the best choice for bed covers and pillows. At this point, the product is mainly sold in combination with cotton. Consequently, we compared the different kinds of production of cotton and their influences on the usage of water as well as the ecosystems in the producing countries. The small rural production of cotton, especially following ecological standards, shows the best environmental and water balance. But also conventional small farms normally use little pesticides and do not water the plants artificial, but with rainwater.
During our researches, we discovered the project “Cotton made in Africa” of the “Aid by Trade-Foundation”, which was set up by the “Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer technische Zusammenarbeit” (GIZ) (German Society for Technical Cooperation) in cooperation with numerous companies of the textile industry. Cotton made in Africa guarantees small-scale-farming in African countries. More than 270.000 farmers participate in this project and are profiting additionally of the social as well as educational projects and the minimum standards of the initiative. However, the standards of fair trade or of controlled ecological cultivation are not fulfilled.
But also ecologically produced cotton neither guarantees small-farming, nor does it meets the standards of fair trade criteria, but the observance of ecological cultivation is the focus.
Our conclusion: Ecological cotton, produced by small farms, sold under the conditions of fair trade, would be the ideal choice.*
Unfortunately, the determined optimal standards of production on the market are connected to an unjustifiable input and expenses. We made an analysis of the market of products with a price up to 100 Euro. We summarized our conclusion the following table, which is comparing and evaluating the products in regard to their characteristics.**
Based on the table, we decided to purchase the following products:
- Badenia “Trendline Steppbett Tencel”
- f.a.n. “Cotton made in Africa Tencel”
- Badenia “Irisette Tencel”The final production of the bed cover and the pillow of these products takes place in Germany.
*The product “Catona” of the ecological mail order house “allnatura” used ecological cotton from fair trade, the price is noticeably over the sighted price of a maximum of 100 Euro. Furthermore 100 % cotton is used, which we do not consider to be the best mix of materials, as also ecologically produced cotton is often an encumbrance for the water resources. Additionally, the artificial watering following Eco-criteria (kbA) does not demand any standards. Beyond all that, allnatura does not identify the origin of the cotton.
**The table does not claim to be scientific of “objective”, but summarizes the intermediate results of our Partnership. It is not a (scientific) evaluation of products as other big foundations and institutions carry out.