For this CEO and founder, problem-solving design led to the launch of an eco-friendly bedding company.
By Rachel Gallaher
Eucalypso offers bedding made with fibers from the wood of natural eucalyptus for a cooler, more hygienic sleep.
Like many in the design world, Elle Liu’s company, Eucalypso—eco-friendly bedding made from eucalyptus fibers—started as a solution to a personal problem. “I love sleep as much as the next person (maybe even more so),” Liu says, “but I'm a hot sleeper and I have sensitive skin. I would wake up with night sweats and mysterious breakouts on my back and wasn't sure what was causing it.”
After a trip to her dermatologist, Liu started looking into possible triggers for night sweats and various issues associated with difficulty sleeping, eventually discovering that cotton sheets can often be the source of the problems. “I also found out that cotton is one of the dirtiest and thirstiest crops in the world given how much water and pesticides it takes to grow, and how polluting the chemical runoff is. I knew there had to be a better solution.”
Liu, who is based in Vancouver, Washington, spent the next year traveling around the world, speaking to different mills and manufacturers about ecofriendly alternatives to traditional cotton bedding. “The difficulty of the search was that I wanted something that was both sustainable and also comfortable to sleep in,” she says. “It had to be breathable, soft, and gentle on the skin, which was a difficult combination to find. I finally found a mill in Austria that has been creating sustainable fabrics for over 100 years, and since sustainability is at the center of everything we do, we knew it was the perfect partnership.”
After learning that cotton is woven in a way that traps sweat and bacteria, which can cause skin irritation and breakouts—and that pillowcases unwashed for a week harbored 17,000 times more colonies of bacteria than samples taken from a toilet seat—Liu opted to use eucalyptus fibers as a more sustainable, breathable option. Eucalypso bedding is made with TENCEL™ fibers, which are produced from the pulp of eucalyptus wood and made from sustainably sourced wood which are FSC & PEFC certified. The end product is antibacterial, antimicrobial, hypoallergenic, and 70% more moisture-wicking than cotton, which helps with body temperature regulation.
Eucalypso bedding is currently available in four colors.
“Sustainability is at the core of everything we do, so it's the most important part of every aspect of Eucalypso from beginning to end,” Liu says. “This is the reason we chose to go with eucalyptus in the first place. Did you know that for one-tenth of the water it takes to make cotton sheets, we can make 10 times more eucalyptus sheets?”
Eucalypso’s products are released in limited runs because the eucalyptus used to create them is harvested sustainably in small batches to prevent land degradation. “This is why we are sometimes sold out,” Liu notes. “Not because we don't want to make more, but because we want to be thoughtful about how we are treating the land they come from.” The bedding is manufactured in a closed-loop process, which means that 99% of the water, solvent, and source materials are reused and recycled, minimizing the pollution and runoff that are damaging to the planet. But for Liu, there is always opportunity to do better.
“We are currently looking for ways to create a zero-carbon fabric,” she says. “That's the great thing about being a small family-owned eco-conscious business. We can be thoughtful and curious about what we're creating. It's even better that we are based in the Pacific Northwest, so we are always learning about new sustainable methods and talking to people who are likeminded about being eco-conscious and the things they purchase.”
Eucalypso bedding is available in standard sizes and in four colorways (white, gray, light blue, and blush pink). The company also offers crib sheets, a comforter, and a duvet cover.