An organic bed linen subscription and recycling service sounds like the ultimate hipster indulgence, but considering the massive amount of textiles that end up in landfills every year, it might actually have an impact. Coyuchi, which was one of the first companies to offer organic sheets when it was founded in 1991, launched Coyuchi For Life this week. Subscriptions start at $5 a month and let customers pick how often they want new sheets and towels delivered to them.
When subscribers want to get rid of their linens, Coyuchi takes them back and, depending on their condition, recycles them or—for fabrics that still have some life left in them—launders them in a process that uses carbon dioxide instead of dry cleaning solvents to sell secondhand.
According to the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association, about 95 percent of textile waste can be recycled or reused. But more than 15 million tons of fabric ended up in landfills in 2013 and, of that amount, just 15 percent was recovered for recycling.
Coyuchi is among several companies that want consumers to rethink bedtime. For example, Utah-based startup Purple may reach unicorn valuation for its mattresses, which are made without toxic materials, while Brooklinen, Parachute and Boll & Branch, which sell high-quality bed linens, have each recently received funding.
Eileen Mockus, Coyuchi’s CEO, tells TechCrunch that the company’s subscription service “really allows customers to engage with us in a long-term way around sustainability.”
Coyuchi For Life customers receive new sheets, towels or comforters every six, 12 or 24 months. Mockus says those increments of time were based on consumer habits. For example, a lot of people swap out their bed linen based on the weather and buy new sets every year or two.
Coyuchi’s products are relatively straightforward to recycle into new yarn because they are made only from cotton and don’t use finishers like formaldehyde or chlorine bleach. Mockus hopes, however, that the subscription/recycling business model can be applied to other categories of textile products.
“What we are trying to get it is what are those opportunities as we look at how the current supply chain is set up,” she says. “Getting into a more circular system is what sustainability eventually needs to drive and that’s what we want to accomplish as we put this model together.”