Whether it is our clothing, bath towels or bed sheets – cotton is one of the most important resources for textiles of all kind. As a natural material, cotton fibers are at first glance more ecological than synthetic fibers. Additionally, cotton is a renewable raw material and biodegradable, but its production and processing are often dangerous for the environment and the people involved in the production process. Pesticides, fertilization, genetic engineering, enormous water consumption, exploitation are some of the many problems in the cultivation of cotton (utopia). Organic cotton, on the other hand, is much more sustainable and eco-friendlier than conventional cotton in many ways. Which is why the bed and bath textile manufacturer Yumeko is using organic cotton and other materials with a much smaller market share to make these environmentally friendly alternatives the new standard.
The idea for Yumeko (Japanese for “dreamgirl”) arose in 2010, when founders Stephan Zeijlenmaker and Rob van den Dool were looking for more sustainability in their personal, but also business lives. Their aim was to produce high quality textiles for bed and bath that are sustainable and affordable at the same time, make life a little more pleasant and comfortable and finally, make the world a little cleaner and fairer. Yumeko does not want to follow fast-fashion trends, but rather focus on building a permanent collection of meaningful products: the softest bed and bathroom textiles of the highest quality, manufactured with the greatest care for the environment, people and animals.
All of Yumeko’s products come from a clean and fair retail chain, a FairChain. Together with Green Story, an external company that does analysis of various materials, Yumeko takes a closer look at the environmental impact of their products. Thus, the entire supply chain for their materials is examined: from the fields in which the raw materials grow, to processing them into bed linen and transporting them to the warehouse in the Netherlands. All products have an organic and/or fair-trade label and have passed Yumeko's strict selection process. Their products are made uniquely for Yumeko in India, the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Austria, Turkey and Peru. Yumeko strives for a switch from a conventional production chain characterized by inhuman practices and unnecessary pollution, especially in the textile industry, to better, more beautiful and greener products – with every stitch and thread. The Amsterdam based brand is convinced that positive, social changes can be set in motion by companies and their customers. Therefore, it is important to Yumeko to be able to show their customers how positive each of their purchases are for the environment to prove that a sustainable business model can work.
To be able to guarantee their customers that a product has been produced sustainably and that as little damage as possible has been caused to people, animals or the environment, Yumeko uses quality seals for their materials and production processes wherever possible. For example, their GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) seal guarantees that the cotton and wool are organic and the entire production chain, from the cotton plant and the sheep to the bed linen and duvet, meets the strictest biological requirements. Everything is produced sustainably, from the farm to the bedroom. Their Fair-Trade seal guarantees that their cotton farmers and the specialists who manufacture their products are being paid fairly, get pension and health insurance while working normal hours. Women are treated in the same way as men within cotton cooperations, from voting rights to wages. Where there are no quality seals, Yumeko makes the entire production chain transparent to assign their own seal of approval: "Yumeko says: OK".
One of the company’s main ways to ensure high quality and meet their standards is by choosing the right materials for their products. For Yumeko, it is important to minimize their environmental footprint by reducing or fully dispense the use of water, pesticides, chemicals, carbon dioxide but also to ensure a healthy environment for their farmers and workers. Worldwide, less than one percent of all bed linen is made from organic cotton. At Yumeko, only in 2019, they have used more than 27.000 kilogram organic cotton. So far, compared to conventional cotton, Yumeko’s bed linen, cotton covers for duvets and pillows made of organic cotton saved over 250 million liters of water, almost 900.000 kilograms of carbon dioxide and prevented the use of pesticides on over two million m². Other materials such as natural latex made from the sap of the rubber tree, flax, the raw material for linen, or TencelTM made from wood pulp from unsprayed trees, play their part in making the production more sustainable, environmentally friendly and fair.
As simple as it is: Yumeko makes use of nature, uses existing intelligent methods of organic farming and, with their products, contributes to making the world a little better – in their sleep.
– by Marie Klimczak