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4 Environmental Benefits of Using A Buckwheat Pillow

Shutterstock Photo License - By Zayats Svetlana



If you’re striving to have better quality sleep each night, your priority is most likely finding the right mattress. However, there are other important sleep products that you need as well. You may end up forgetting the importance the right pillow also plays in enhancing the quality of your sleep. With an excellent and comfortable pillow, both your upper back and neck get the much-needed support that enhances your sleep quality. 

However, this might seem like a pipe dream to you after trying out different pillows yet to no avail. But before thinking of giving up, you might want to hear about a less popular alternative and its claimed environmental benefits. It’s a new entrant to the US market, known as the buckwheat pillow

What’s A Buckwheat Pillow?

Before diving deeper into buckwheat pillows, you might want to know what buckwheat is in the first place. Buckwheat is a seed-like grain originating from southwest China that had for centuries been used for human and animal consumption. It’s regarded as a fruit and grows inside a husk, a shell-like casing where the seeds are protected as they mature. The shell isn’t edible, but it’s the one used as filling inside mattresses and pillows due to its durability and comfort.  It can really do a lot to help you sleep better while leading a green lifestyle.

Across Asian cultures, this trend has been practiced for hundreds of years due to the malleable nature of this upholstery filling. This has led to the use of buckwheat hulls in making different items from pillows to mattresses to furniture. Today, Western countries are starting to embrace this concept in place of the less eco-friendly synthetic materials and feathers. 

These appealing traits of the shells have led to the upsurge in their use in making buckwheat pillows, also referred to as ‘sobakawa,’ a Japanese term meaning ‘buckwheat leather.’ The use of these pillows originated from the Japanese concept of having the healthiest body state, known as ‘Zu-Kan-Soku-Netsu.’ Translated to English, the phrase means cold heat and warm feet.  

How Are Buckwheat Pillows Made?

Although the process of making buckwheat pillows filled with thousands of small hulls might sound fairly complex, this isn’t the case. What the manufacturers do is simply take out the seeds from the shells then proceed to clean them. The cases are usually made using skin-friendly and natural fibers, like silk and cotton.

You can remove, add, or refresh the hulls in these cases throughout the lifetime of the pillow. After the pillow’s useful life—as long as 10 years if the hulls are replaced regularly—it can be recycled, considering it’s sustainable and environmentally friendly. 

If you’re curious to know what a buckwheat pillow looks like, here’s a video you might want to check out:

What Are the Environmental Benefits of Getting A Buckwheat Pillow?

Now that you have better insights into what buckwheat pillows are, you’re more likely wondering whether to go ahead and buy one. Despite their expensive price tag, consumers believe they provide great value in the long run because of their durability. 

While many products are nowadays touted to be environmentally friendly, sometimes this turns out to be merely a sales pitch. But this may not be the case with buckwheat pillows as the hulls are said to be sustainable and don’t negatively impact the environment. Here’s a more detailed discussion of some of the environmental benefits of these pillows:  

1. They’re Toxin Free

The number of fatal diseases is on the rise due to increased exposure to toxic fumes from synthetic products used today. This is the case with traditional pillows made from synthetic fibers, which are sprayed with flame retardants to avert the start and growth of fire. While these fibers might be easy to clean, toxic flame retardants produce toxic fumes. And this plays a part in environmental degradation. To make matters worse, extended exposure to these fumes can cause issues to the reproductive, nervous, and immune systems. 

This might not be a concern when it comes to buckwheat pillows as they’re claimed to be all-natural and organic and therefore free from any chemicals that might harm the health. For some, investing in these kinds of pillows are a no-brainer as they believe they’re protecting the environment from toxic fumes while protecting themselves from inhaling or coming in contact with these fumes. 

Buckwheat is a strong plant that thrives even without needing herbicides, pesticides, or a large quantity of fertilizer. Therefore, even buckwheat hulls that aren’t certified can still grow well without the use of chemicals that might expose the plant to toxic residue. These chemicals could also lead to soil poisoning. 

2. They’re Biodegradable

Most pillows nowadays are synthetic and therefore not biodegradable. Because such pillows contain polyester or polyurethane, they don’t emit carcinogens and toxins and fill the landfills all over. This then results in the release of these toxic fumes into the environment, which hampers measures to help make the environment more sustainable. 

Consumers don’t associate buckwheat pillows with such issues. This is because the hulls are compostable, meaning they won’t end up filling the landfills and destroying the soil’s integrity. Moreover, it is claimed that only an insignificant amount of chemical fertilizers is used on the crops. So they’re said not to contain contaminants that are usually found in other crops. 

The buckwheat’s hulls are believed to be sustainable as they follow an energy-efficient process when air-cleaned and air-dried. This means no fertilizers or chemicals are used on the hulls that might have an adverse impact on the environment. And for people into a vegan lifestyle, these pillows would not be a cause of worry as they’re said to contain no animal products. 

3. They’re Recyclable

Buckwheat pillows also have an advantage in terms of their recyclability as the hulls can be continuously refreshed with fresh ones. This means you can continuously use your pillow after replacing the old shells with new ones. 

This could also be a great leisure activity if you’re a DIY enthusiast. Consequently, you can get a pillow you have put your time and effort into and also one that’s attractive to the eye. 

4. They’re Durable

As said, buckwheat pillow could last for around 10 years while still being in excellent condition. This is because, unlike traditional pillows, they don’t fold or flatten over time. Instead, they retain their original shape. 

Therefore, you won’t end up using a lot of these pillows over your lifetime and filling up the landfills. This could also mean you could play a part in helping reduce the level of environmental degradation.

Will Using Buckwheat Pillows Improve Your Sleep?

Getting quality sleep is priceless as it’s healthy for your normal body function and leaves you feeling refreshed. However, this could be a struggle if you’re using a traditional synthetic pillow that doesn’t offer your neck firm and comfortable support while asleep. 

Because of this, investing in a buckwheat pillow might be a good idea if you’re after a good night’s rest. If you’re unsure whether investing in a buckwheat pillow is a prudent move, here are some of the benefits you’ll probably enjoy from investing in one: 

1. They Have A Great Smell

If you’re sensitive to smell, you might want to stay away from traditional pillows that produce the smell of plastic or chemicals used when filling them. In contrast, consumers enjoy the earthy and natural smell said to come from buckwheat pillows, which makes them feel relaxed and enjoy better quality sleep.

The hulls of the buckwheat are said to be thoroughly cleaned during manufacturing to ensure the earthy smell is at a desirable level, such that they’re assumed to be odorless. How strong the buckwheat scent is usually depending on the kind of pillow. However, consumers are assured that the intensity of the smell wouldn’t be a disturbance to their sleep. 

2. They’re Moldable 

The preferred sleeping position differs from one individual to another. For some, the ideal position is sleeping on their back, others on their stomach, while some on their side. Knowing that poor sleeping posture is a reason for back and neck pain, investing in a quality pillow may sound reasonable. This could give your head and neck the much-needed support. Traditional pillows usually don’t achieve this as they’re too thick or thin and collapse when pressed against the weight of your head. 

A buckwheat pillow could prevent this from happening as it’s said to provide the neck and head with the right support. Appearing to be extremely moldable, it adjusts itself accordingly depending on the head and neck position. This unique attribute could mean that buckwheat hulls would do a superb job of offering your body support as you try and find the right posture to sleep in.  

This could allow your spine, muscle, and other tissues to maintain an ideal position while asleep, hence allowing optimal relaxation. Buckwheat pillows are said to achieve this by ensuring your body remains in a neutral alignment throughout the night. This means all areas of your spine would remain in their exact position and avoid placing unnecessary pressure on your nerves, muscles, and discs. Thus, any tenderness or uncomfortable pain in your ligaments, tendons, and muscles from using traditional pillows could be alleviated. 

3. They Could Help Reduce Snoring

Although snoring isn’t classified as a severe issue, it shouldn’t be ignored. Otherwise, it could result in numerous complications such as higher risk of stroke, heart disease, hard time concentrating, daytime sleepiness, and high blood pressure. It’s not an issue you would want to overlook.

Investing in a quality pillow is perhaps one way of dealing with this issue. This is because poor sleeping position could cause snoring, along with other conditions such as sleep apnea. 

Getting a buckwheat pillow is believed to help with these snoring issues by helping improve your sleeping posture, keeping your airways open the entire night. This could lead to a drastic improvement in the quality of your sleep. 

4. They’re Breathable 

If you’ve slept on a foam, down, or other kinds of pillows before, you know they usually retain heat. Due to this, they could quickly become uncomfortable as they become hot later in the night. This could force you to turn your pillow during the night to get a cooler surface. 

But worrying about such discomfort could perhaps be lessened by investing in a buckwheat pillow. The triangular-shaped, slightly cupped, and smooth hulls inside have thousands of small air pockets in between them. Therefore, they don’t compress together except when there’s some weight placed over the pillow. This could be one way to ensure there’s excellent air conditioning inside the pillow, which would prevent it from overheating. 

Also, the hulls do not conduct heat, which could bring comfort to the user throughout the night. The breathable nature of these pillows would perhaps make them suitable for use in hot and humid areas. Therefore, you could enjoy quality sleep free from the uncomfortable heat buildup, especially if your body temperature rises during the night. 

5. They Could Help Relieve Migraines

When you’re experiencing a headache, it can be very difficult to enjoy a good night’s rest. Such migraines can become so extreme, causing you to experience vomiting, extreme light sensitivity, and nausea. 

Having a buckwheat pillow could help ease these migraines and consequently help you enjoy better sleep at night. These pillows are said to do this by offering the airways and soft tissues proper support. They’re also said to promote specific pleasures around certain points of the skull and neck. This could result to a relaxing sleep as it’s said to regulate endorphins and blood in the body, hence helping a user feel better.  


The fight for environmental sustainability is one that everyone might strive to achieve for the sake of future generations. If you’re committed to this fight, then investing in a buckwheat pillow could be the right step to take.

This pillow is also said to offer greater comfort and durability, unlike synthetic pillows available on the market. If you were slightly skeptical at first, this detailed post has highlighted everything you may want to know about buckwheat pillows and their claimed environmental benefits.


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