When I lived in the US, I used to see Philippe Cousteau, Jr. at sustainability events every now and then. He always wore the same belt on the same pair of jeans, and he kept no cotton sheets or towels at his house. I thought this was a French thing, but en fait, there are 101 gallons of water hidden in every pound of cotton. It's toxin-laden and potentially mutagenic and considered one of the world's dirtiest crops. The rest of our beds might be even worse- endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, formaldehyde and respiratory irritants fill every polyurethane, memory foam, or latex mattress.
This isn't to say that as your body flushes out the day's toxins during a night's sleep, your bedding replaces them with fresh phthalates and VOCs- no one knows what effect these chemical levels have in the long run. Still, it's a good excuse to promote beautiful, handmade natural wool and linen bedding. French people get a bad rap when it comes to cleanliness, but the wool duvets and mattresses they make are inherently antimicrobial. Remember that scary Northern Exposure episode where Maggie was obsessed with dust mites? In France, generations of artisans divert hundreds of thousands of tons of steel from landfills with wool mattresses that regulate temperature and require little maintenance. Just wash, re-fluff, and service at a literie every ten years. In Paris, I like Special Literie, 19 bis Rue de Cotte 75012. It's right next door to Puerto Cacao, so you can eat bulk chocolate while you wait.
Linen sheets are perfect for Paris apartments lacking air conditioning and adequate heaters- clean and comfortable on the sweatiest summer nights and cozy in the dead of winter, when La France Mutualiste gets stingy with the radiator. Harvested from cellulose flax fibers, linen production uses minimal water and energy inputs. Since French washer/dryers don't really dry anything, the moisture-wicking properties of linen help on cold, humid laundry days. The more I wash and use them, the better they look- best of all, Kar and Toffel love their silky washed texture!
To learn more about artisanal wool mattress production, click here.