I consider myself pretty environmentally aware: on a crunchy scale from homemade raw granola to marshmallows, I’m somewhere in the range of heath food bulk bins to organic oatmeal.
But when I started designing the Lotus Leaf, function was my highest concern. I wanted to make sure that what I created truly helped pregnant women sleep. My second concern was cost: the cheaper I could make it, I reasoned, the more women could benefit. There were niggling questions in the back of my mind about our carbon footprint but I justified it to myself thinking that the health benefits to pregnant women outweighed the environmental cost.
Last fall I was literally weeks from launching the product under a different name, and made from conventional cotton fabric, regular pillows, and memory/polyurethane (fossil fuel-based) foam.
Then my daughter asked me to read The Lorax, one of our family’s faves. (We, of course, identify with the Lorax, the good, er, guy, or whatever he is.) As I read about the Thneeds (that Everyone Needs!) I started picturing all that polyurethane foam, tens of thousands of base cushions and wedges, filling up landfills year after year, and I imagined the amount of (ever-diminishing) fossil fuel required to make them.
I found myself outwardly reading calmly and steadily on to my daughter. But inwardly, a growing realization was coming to me, not without horror: “I’m not the Lorax in this story! I’m the Once-ler! I CAN’T be the Onceler!!!! I CAN’T BE THE ONCE-LER!!!!””
I asked myself a new question: what would it look like if I found materials that were sustainable-produced, non-toxic and biodegradable? This was my new starting point, from which came the Lotus Leaf.
Latex foam is harvested sustainably by tapping rubber trees; taking a few years to break down in a landfill, not thousands. Modal fabric is created from wood pulp from sustainably managed forests, and is manufactured in a closed loop process that creates no toxic residues. Our pillows are made from post-consumer/post-industrial recycled polyfil fibers, extending the life of polyfil already created that would otherwise go directly to a landfill.
Inevitably, eco-friendly materials cost more to produce. So I was left with a problem. I decided, as I do in my massage practice, to start aligned with the axiom, “first do no harm”. To pregnant women, to our planet.
I won’t greenwash and say the Lotus Leaf has the carbon footprint of sleeping on a bed of moss in the forest, but it is a huge improvement over conventional bedding materials. I can sleep at night knowing I’ve made a good-faith effort to help pregnant women and to protect the environment. Best of all, I can read my daughter The Lorax safe and secure in the knowledge that I am definitely not the Once-ler.