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Glossary - What is Organic, Define Natural, Green and Allergy Free Terms

Jump to:  bambooBPAbuckwheat pillowcarbon footprint - certified organic - cotton jersey - cotton pillowdamask fabric - Dunlop process - dust mite - ECOCERTecological footprintenvironmental allergyEnvironmental ChoiceEnvironmental DefensefairtradefoamformaldehydeGOTSGreenguardheavy metalhemphypoallergenicinnerspring mattressjacquardkapokKravlatexleadLEEDlow impact dyemattress covermattress padmattress toppermoisture padMCSnon-toxicOeko-texoff-gasorganicorganic cottonorganic woolPBDEphlalate - PLAPVCsateenshredded rubber pillowSkalsweatshop free - synthetic latex - TalalayveganVOC
What is bamboo?

1) Bamboo leaves and the soft, inner pith from the hard bamboo trunk are extracted using a steaming process and then mechanically crushed

2) The crushed bamboo is soaked in sodium hydroxide to produce cellulose. A common misconception is that sodium hydroxide is a harmful chemical. If used in a responsible manner sodium hydroxide has little known effect on the environment and health of workers. It is routinely used in the processing of organic cotton into fibre and is approved by the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) and the UK Soil Association. Sodium hydroxide does not remain as a residue on clothing as it easily washes away and can be neutralised to harmless and non-toxic sodium sulphate salt.

3) The bamboo cellulose is forced through spinneret nozzles (like a sieve) into a sulphuric acid bath that hardens the solution into viscose fibre threads and neutralizes the caustic sodium hydroxide to form Glauber's salt, sodium sulphate, which is used e.g. as a filler in lessive detergents. The process is the standard viscose process. This process is also used to manufacture fibres from wood pulp.

4) The fibre threads are spun into viscose yarn and rolled onto spools. According to textile classification so called bamboo is standard viscose.

 REF Wikipedia: Bamboo Textiles
 REF Organic Clothing Blog by the owners of White Lotus
What is Bisphenol A or BPA?BPA is controversial because it exerts weak, but detectable, hormone-like properties, raising concerns about its presence in consumer products and foods contained in such products. In September 2010, Canada became the first country to declare BPA a toxic substance.In the European Union and Canada, BPA use is banned in baby bottles.
 REF Wikipedia: BPA
What is a buckwheat pillow?Buckwheat hulls are used as filling for a variety of upholstered goods, including pillows and zafu. The hulls are durable and do not conduct or reflect heat as much as synthetic fills.
 REF Wikipedia: Buckwheat
What is a carbon footprint?A carbon footprint is the measure of the impact that living our daily lives has on the environment. In particular it refers to the amount of greenhouse gases an individual produces through their use of fossil fuels, electricity, household chemicals, etc.
 REF Carbonfootprint.com Information
What is certified organic?An agricultural product that is certified organic meets governmental standards for organic production, thereby allowing the producer of the product to legally state that it is organic. Different countries have their own standards for organic certification.
 REF Wikipedia: Certified Organic
What is cotton jersey? Refers to a specific type of cotton weaving technique - known for its super soft feel, often used in T-shirts.
What is a cotton pillow?The Organic Cotton Pillow is made from plants, that are grown without the use of any synthetic agricultural chemicals such as fertilizers or pesticides. Carded and then rolled, the organic cotton filling is surrounded by a strong organic cotton fabric.
 REF Wikipedia: Organic Cotton
What is damask fabric?Refers to a specific type of cotton weaving technique.
What is Dunlop process in rubber manufacturing?Dunlop is a method of producing molded pieces of natural latex foam rubber. The thick rubber sap, or serum, is whipped into a froth in a centrifuge, poured into a mold, covered, and steam baked. Natural sediments in the mixture settle to the bottom of the mold. How does it compare to Talalay? The Dunlop process produces a latex foam that is more dense, while the Talalay process produces a latex foam that is lighter and has more air in it. Using a cake as an analogy, Dunlop would be like pound cake and Talalay would be like angel food cake. If you were to weigh each as latex cores, the Dunlop would be heavier because it has more latex in it. Pick Dunlop because it's dense cell structure will hold the shape of the pillow better over time and will be less prone to sagging or indentations especially if you're a back sleeper and prefer a firmer feel.
What is a dust mite?

House dust mites are a common cause of asthma and allergic symptoms worldwide. The mite's gut contains potent digestive enzymes that persist in their feces and are major inducers of allergic reactions such as wheezing. The mite's exoskeleton can also contribute to allergic reactions. To avoid dust mites in the bedroom, a foam mattress and hypoallergenic bedding are recommended.

 REF Wikipedia: Dust Mites
What is ECOCERT?ECOCERT is a French organic and fair trade certification organization. ECOCERT primarily certifies food and food products, but also certifies cosmetics, detergents, perfumes, and textiles.
 REF Wikipedia: ECOCERT
What is an ecological footprint or environmental footprint?The Ecological Footprint has emerged as the world's premier measure of humanity's demand on nature. It measures how much land and water area a human population requires to produce the resource it consumes and to absorb its carbon dioxide emissions, using prevailing technology. A person can make informed choices about purchases, transportation and personal use of resources in order to reduce their personal ecological footprint.
 REF Footprint Network
What is an environmental allergy?Environmental allergies are an allergic response to substances a person inhales at home, school or workplace. They can be caused by dust, animal dander, mold spores or mildew, or feathers.
What is Environmental Choice?Environmental Choice is a Canadian governmental organization that has created the EcoLogo program, North America's largest, most respected environmental standard and certification mark.
 REF Environmental Choice
What is Environmental Defense?Environmental Defence is a Canadian-based non-profit environmental advocacy group that works on issues such as global warming, ecosystem restoration, oceans, and human health. The organization creates partnerships and offers market incentives to achieve its environmental goals.

REF Environmental Defence Canada

REF Organic Lifestyle: Environmental Defence Recommends

What is fair trade?Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach that advocates the payment of a higher price to third-world exporters of goods, as well as higher social and environmental standards for those goods. The goal is to help producers in developing countries to make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. Despite its great intentions, its not without its criticisms - Read More
 REF Wikipedia: Fair Trade
What is foam?Foam (latex) is often used in pillows and mattresses. The foam is extremely durable, flexible, resilient and molds to your body. Foam is also naturally resistant to moisture build up, naturally antibacterial and hypoallergenic and mold and dust free.
 REF Wikipedia: Latex
What is formaldehyde?Formaldehyde is a chemical that is a known and labelled by US National Toxicology Program as a human carcinogen. Most commonly known for its use as an embalming agent for preserving human tissue, Clothing is often treated with resins which give off formaldehyde in order to make them wrinkle free, retain color, or avoid mildew in overseas transport. Formaldehyde is also often used in bed frames to enhance longevity and reduce mildew in wooden bed frames.
 REF Wikipedia: Formaldehyde
What is GOTS or Global Organic Textile Standard?

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is an organic certification standard for textiles used in clothing. The standard defines world-wide recognized requirements that ensure organic status of textiles, from harvesting of the raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing up to labeling in order to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer. The salient features of GOTS are:

1) Certification of the entire textile supply chain,

2) Environmental Criteria (eg., All chemical inputs (e.g. dyes, auxiliaries and process chemicals) must be evaluated and meeting basic requirements on toxicity and biodegradability/eliminability. All chemical inputs must be procured from GOTS certified suppliers.)

3) Environmental management (eg., Waste water from all wet processing sites must be treated in an internal or external functional waste water treatment plant before discharged to surface waters.)

4) Storage, packaging and transport (eg., Organic textile products must be stored and transported in such a manner as to prevent contamination by prohibited substances and commingling with conventional products or substitution of the contents.)

5) Record keeping & internal quality assurance

6) Technical Quality and Human Toxicity Criteria

7) Social Criteria (eg., sweatshop free)

8) Quality assurance system

9) Testing of Technical Quality Parameters and Residues

10) Principles of the Review and Revision Process.

11) On-site inspection and certification of processors, manufacturers and traders performed by independent specially accredited bodies is the basis of the GOTS monitoring system in order to provide a credible assurance for the integrity of GOTS certified textiles.


REF Global Organic Textile Standard

What is Greenguard?The Greenguard Environmental Institute is organization that aims to protect human health and improve quality of life by enhancing indoor air quality and reducing people's exposure to chemicals and other pollutants. Greenguard Certification ensures that a product has met some of the world's most rigorous and comprehensive standards for low emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
 REF Greenguard Environmental Institute
What is a heavy metal?Many metals, particularly heavy metals are toxic, including cadmium, lead, mercury and the radioactive metals. Why be concerned? These metals can imitate the action of an essential element in the body, interfering with the metabolic process to cause illness. Non-organic cotton clothing can sometimes be treated with dyes that include heavy metals.
 REF Wikipedia: Toxic Metals
What is hemp?Hemp fiber is very strong and durable, and is naturally resistant to mold and mildew. Hemp also requires few pesticides and herbicides to grow.
 REF Wikipedia: Hemp
What is hypoallergenic?Hypoallergenic textiles are those that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Cotton bedding is often used as a hypoallergenic alternative to wool or foam bedding.
 REF Wikipedia: Hypoallergenic
What is an innerspring mattress?This is a mattress made with coils, surrounded with quilted layers of organic cotton and wool that with extra tufting to achieve a firm mattress.
What is jacquard?Refers to a specific type of cotton weaving technique - the fabric with an intricately woven pattern.
 REF Wikipedia: Jacquard
What is a kapok pillow?Kapok fibre comes from the pods of the Ceiba tree. The fibre is very light, making the pillows comfortable, soft and malleable. The fibres repel dust mites and are not treated with toxic chemicals. They also repel moisture and are resistent to mold and mildrew. Finally, since only the pods are harvested, the crop is sustainable and does not need any pesticides or irrigation.
 REF Wikipedia: Kapok
What is Krav?Krav is a Swedish organization that develops and maintains regulations for ecological sustainable agriculture, and has created a labeling system for organic products. This certification is being gradually transitioned to GOTS where applicable.
 REF Krav Sweden
What is latex?Latex is natural rubber that comes from a tree. Inside the tree it is a milky substance comprised of proteins, alkaloids, starches, sugars, oils, tannins, resins, and gums that coagulates on exposure to air. Natural rubber is the most important product obtained from latex and is often used to make mattresses and pillows that are naturally antibacterial, hypoallergenic and dust mite repellent. Latexes may be natural or synthetic.

REF Wikipedia: Latex

 REF Annual Reviews: Latex
What is lead?Lead is a poisonous metal that can damage nervous connections (especially in young children) and cause blood and brain disorders. Lead poisoning typically results from ingestion of food or water contaminated with lead, but may also occur after accidental ingestion of contaminated soil, dust, or lead based paint. Lead can affect almost every organ and system in the body. The main target for lead toxicity is the nervous system, both in adults and children. Why is this important? Lead was a component of the paint used on children's toys - now restricted in the United States and across Europe- however, toys imported from China have been getting alot of attention in the media for containing lead based paints. Lead Free Toys
 REF Wikipedia: Lead
What is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified?LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building, home or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
 REF LEED Certification
What is low impact dye?A low-impact dye is a dye that has been classified by the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 (an international certification process) as eco-friendly. Generally, low impact dyes do not contain toxic chemicals or mordants (which fix the dye to the fabric), require less rinsing and have a high absorption rate in the fabric (~70%). High absorption rates and a decreased use of rinse water create less waste water.
 REF Fibre Reactive / Low Impact Dyes
What is a mattress cover?Mattress covers increase the life of a mattress by protecting it from spills, sweat stains, and wear and tear. Cotton covers are comfortable and durable, and breathe well, preventing overheating.
What is a mattress pad?Mattress pads protect a mattress, can be easily laundered and provide extra padding to make the mattress more comfortable.
 REF Wikipedia: Mattress Pad
What is a mattress topper?Mattress toppers enhance the comfort of a mattress. They are made of moisture-resistant wool, or dust mite-resistent latex foam.
 REF Wikipedia: Mattress Topper
What is a moisture pad?Moisture pads are generally made of 100% pure wool. It provides excellent protection to your mattress making it an ideal choice for children, the elderly or infirm sleepers. The wool is naturally water resistant and dries naturally.
What is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or MCS?Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) is a chronic medical condition attributed to a person's exposure to chemicals in their household, work, and other environments where they spend time. Chemicals causing the sensitivity may include pesticides, plastics, synthetic fabrics, scented products, petroleum products, paints and chemicals used in the manufacturing processes of furniture, clothing and other household goods. Symptoms may include nausea, fatigue and headaches.

REF Wikipedia: MCS

 REF Introduction to Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome
What is non-toxic?Non-toxic implies that a product, substance, or chemical will not cause adverse health effects, either immediately or over the long-term. There are no specific standards for the 'non-toxic' term, so it is important to seek products which meet the standards of certification bodies for organic or chemical-free goods.
 REF Wikipedia: Non-toxic
What is Oeko-tex?The International Oeko-Tex Association comprises textile
representatives from Europe and Japan that create standards for textiles and is responsible for independent tests for harmful substances. The Oeko-Tex criteria catalogue provides a uniform, scientifically founded evaluation standard for the human ecological safety of textiles. Raw materials, intermediate and end products at all stages of processing throughout the manufacturing chain are tested and certified.
 REF Oeko-tex
What is off-gas?Off-gas refers to to chemicals that are used in building or in the process of manufacturing household goods that continually give off noxious fumes over long periods of time.  Culprits can include paints, varnishes, sealants and glues.
What is organic?Organic products are made of plant or animal sources that are grown using organic farming methods. These methods strictly limit the use of manufactured (synthetic) fertilizers, pesticides (which include herbicides, insecticides and fungicides), plant growth regulators such as hormones, livestock antibiotics, food additives, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), human sewage sludge, and nanomaterials. This production system sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects.
 REF Wikipedia: Organic
What is organic cotton?Organic cotton is grown without the use of any synthetic agricultural chemicals such as fertilizers or pesticides. Its production also promotes and enhances biodiversity and biological cycles.
 REF Wikipedia: Organic Cotton
What is organic wool?Organic wool yarn is wool that is from sheep that have not been exposed to chemicals like pesticides and are kept in humane and good farm conditions.
 REF Organic Trade Association: Organic Wool
What is PBDE or Polybrominated diphenyl ethers?Polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDE are used as flame retardants in building materials, furnishings, plastics, polyurethane foams, and textiles. Studies with animals have shown significant health effects including thyroid hormone disruption, permanent learning and memory impairment, behavioral changes, hearing deficits, delayed puberty onset, decreased sperm count, fetal malformations and, possibly, cancer.
 REF Wikipedia: PBDE
What is a phthalate?Phthlalates are chemicals commonly added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity.  They can be found in products such as building materials, children's toys, paints and textiles.  Health risks include problems with adult infertility, cancer, and risks to fetal development.
 REF Wikipedia: Phlalate
What is PLA?PLA fiber starts with an abundant, natural and renewable resource - plants. The starch gets isolated from the other components of the plant and gets turned into sugar. The sugar is fermented in a process similar to making yogurt, to create lactic acid. Lactic acid is a naturally occurring material that gives the "tang" to yogurt and makes your muscles ache after a work-out. From lactic acid a molecule called lactide is created. Water is then removed and it gets crystallized to create the high-performance polymer - polylactide (PLA).
PLA performs extremely well in the wash and is therefore offered as an alternative to organic cotton. Our PLA fiber does not off-gas harmful chemicals and maintains its resiliency through repeated washings.
What is PVC or polyvinyl chloride?PVC is the third most commonly used plastic in the world and is commonly used in clothing and upholstery, electrical cable insulation, inflatable products and many applications in which it replaces rubber.  Health risks include cancer, endocrine disruption, endometriosis, neurological damage, birth defects and impaired child development and reproductive and immune system damage.

REF Healthy Building: PVC Facts

 REF Wikipedia: PVC
What is sateen?Sateen is a cotton fabric with a luster resembling that of satin. It is used for sheets and apparel.
 REF Wikipedia: Sateen
What is a shredded rubber pillow?A pillow made from shredded natural rubber (aka latex foam), can be shaped to fit your neck and is antibacterial, hypoallergenic and dust mite repellent. The organic cotton cover is removable and fully machine-washable.
 REF Wikipedia: Rubber
What is Skal?Skal is an independent inspection body for organic production in the Netherlands that works in accordance with the public law, based on EU regulation. SKAL strives to ensure that organic products truly originate from an organic production process by means of inspection and certification. SKAL is the legal holder of the EKO quality symbol, which stands for organic production certified by SKAL that meets the requirements of the EU-regulation for organic production.
 REF Skal
What is sweatshop free?Workers in a sweatshop can be forced to work long hours, work for very low pay (sometimes less than minimum wage) and be denied overtime pay. Sweatshops may violate child labor laws, and workers may face hazardous materials and situations.
 REF Wikipedia: Sweatshops
What is synthetic latex?Synthetic latex is created from two oil-derivatives: styrene and butadiene. There are many manufacturers who tout their mattress as "natural" latex, when in fact it's a blend of natural AND synthetic. Dunlop and Talalay latex can be either natural or synthetic. Synthetic latex, has a tendency to break down very quickly, and in fact the average queen-sized polyurethane foam mattress covered in polyester fabric loses HALF its weight over ten years of use as its polyurethane is oxidized into the air as dust. Synthetic latex and polyurethanes also have a tendency to off-gas. Finally, synthetic latex is unable to absorb and release moisture properly, causing heat problems for sleepers, as well as growth of molds and mildews.

REF Wikipedia: Latex

 REF Annual Reviews: Latex
What is Talalay process in rubber manufacturing?Talalay is a method of producing molded pieces of natural latex foam rubber. Process - A natural liquid latex rubber base is introduced to a closed mold that has been vacuumed of air. The mold is then frozen to stabilize the cell structure. How does it differ from the Dunlop process? The formulation uses many of the same base components as the Dunlop formulation, but without gellation reagents. The result is marketed as a healthier alternative to petroleum-based foams since petroleum-based foams give off volatile organic compounds as they age. In the marketing of products such as beds that include natural latex foams created with the Talalay process, these products are sometimes characterised as 'organic' or as completely natural. However this claim may not be completely true since unspecified curing agents are used in the Talalay process and ammonia is commonly used to stabilize liquid rubber. Pick Talalay if you typically prefer pressure relief because it's less dense than Dunlop.
 REF Wikipedia: Talalay Process
What is vegan?Vegan refers to a person who does not consume animal products, neither as food nor in their purchase of clothing and household goods.
 REF Wikipedia: Vegan
What is a VOC or volatile organic compound?Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids including paints and lacquers.  Health effects can include eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea, damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system.

REF U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): VOCs


 REF Wikipedia: VOC
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