kapok ceiba pentandra magicful homeHi, it's Veronika here!

I'll cut to the chase: For the sake of my Rainbow Sea Turtle Pillow Covers, I decided to find the best vegan and eco-friendly pillow inserts. As you may have read in my previous article, pillows - as much as they may look completely innocent - are actually pretty hard to be both vegan and eco-friendly at the same time.

UPDATE: Watch a video - how to stuff your pillow with kapok!

My pillow research led me to something called 'kapok tree fibres' - a soft padding around the seeds of a tropical tree called kapok or in Latin Ceiba Pentandra - with such lovely colourful flowers as you can see on the picture. And I must say, WOW! There really is an organic, unbleached, non-allergenic, natural, cruelty-free and sustainable alternative to down, cotton and polyester fibres - the three most common pillow stuffings.

So briefly, here's what I find bad about those above:

Down is obviously not vegan, as it comes from animals, and even if you are not concern about that let me share with you one thing: 80% of all down on the market comes from live-plucked geese and ducks (source: Vegan Design 101 class, VeganDesign). Is there anyone who wouldn't find that cruel? Knowing how it hurts when we pull our hair, imagine this is happening to geese every 6 weeks. Surely it's a no-brainer.

Cotton is great when it comes to clothing and ideally, should be organic. Excessive demand for cotton asks for a higher usage of pesticides, which is allowed for non-organic products but must not be used for products labelled as organic. We all know that using pesticides is not good for the environment. But even if we'd skip this fact, cotton is attracting too many bugs, moulds, and other allergens which makes cotton less appropriate for use in pillow inserts.

Polyester fibres - plastic - these are only acceptable to me when made from recycled materials because we simply have to do something with all the plastic waste. Recycling, for example, plastic bottles into plastic fibres to create so-called rPET pillow stuffing, that's reasonable. But rPET pillow inserts are surprisingly still more expensive than pillow inserts using virgin plastic fibres! That's nuts! And to be frank, I just don't want to be taking naps on a mass of plastic when I can use an amazing natural alternative! =)

So finally... Let me tell you all about my Kapok adventure:

How Veronika hand-made her own kapok pillow insert

Firstly I wanted to buy a single sample premade kapok insert to fill my Rainbow Sea Turtle Pillow Cover to see whether I can be offering pillows with inserts, but even though I found what I believe was a good source for a reasonable price (100% Natural Kapok Pillow Insert on Etsy), the delivery cost put me off any experimenting. If I was just buying one pillow insert for my personal use then sure, but I needed to compare more options and keep expenses reasonable.

So what did I do? I watched a quick instructional video on YouTube and saw that sewing a pillow cover really isn't a big deal, so I simply purchased the materials and started the magic =)

kapok ceiba pentandra magicful home

My Rainbow Sea Turtle Pillow Cover with a muslin fabric - turned later into pillow insert, sewn on sides to create a pocket which was later filled my kapok fibers

For one pillow insert, filling a Rainbow Sea Turtle Cover of a size approx. 16x16 inches, I bought:

1) 330g of pure organic kapok - I simply keep filling till it's all puffy so this is just an approximate measure.
It came in a 1kg pack, but that's fine. I'll use the rest for other pillows later.
This kapok is organic, unbleached, you know - all natural! It feels amazing, fluffy, soft and simply feels like the right candidate to put into a vegan eco-friendly pillow that I'm happy to sell. It totally corresponds to the core values of mine.

2)* Natural cotton muslin fabric - it's light, unbleached, natural - perfect for the eco-friendly pillow. It came in a size suitable for two pillows. It's good to wash it first as it shrinks a lot. I got a sheet of size 93.5 cm x 105.5 cm and when washed and dried, I was left with 90 cm x 96 cm sheet. No big deal, I knew this might happen, but if you don't take it into account you may not have enough fabric to work with.
I cut this sheet in half, then this rectangle (approx 90 x 48 cm) was folded in half, the two and a half-open sides were sewed together (the third one was obviously naturally already "there"), leaving a reasonably big hole for stuffing as I left about half of the side open.
After sewing, you will want to turn it inside out to make it look better, hide the seams and make it less prone to defects.

* This is how I made first few cases, now I have organic cotton inner pillowcases with zipper, so it's easier to add (or take away) kapok as you please.

Stuffing the kapok is an adventure on its own! The kapok came in a very dense form, I found out quickly it wouldn't work well like this as it would be making ugly uncomfortable lumps in the pillow, so I had to "fluff it up". A lot! You can see in the pictures how a small lump makes a huge fluff. This is where it gets messy - kapok is naturally so fluffy, soft and very cuddleable, but the fluffing process left me all cover in fibres - I had to put a mask on me for the rest of the process, there was so much in my nose =) Next time I will do this outside in the garden, the birds will thank me for their free nesting material and I will not have so much mess to clear up at home. It was helpful to do the fluffing-up in a big bowl, but even with an open window mini fluffs were all over me. So if you decide to make your own kapok pillow, do the fluffing outside! =)

kapok ceiba pentandra magicful home

kapok ceiba pentandra magicful home

Fluffing took ages as I wanted it to be perfect. When I felt happy with it, I finished the sewing making sure all corners were nicely poking out so they will fill the pillow cover perfectly when the insert goes in the cushion cover.

You can see the stuffed pillow in my photo documentation. It's soft, responsive to squeeze, but bouncing back and most importantly very, very comfortable when I use it behind my back. I simply love it!

kapok ceiba pentandra magicful home

It's a lot of work, but it's worth it if you don't want to purchase the kapok insert pre-finished and ready to use. So if you feel creative, go for it and make your own kapok pillow insert. If you think you'd rather get a finished product, here, or wherever you choose to buy it, it really is worth the money!

I decided I will be offering kapok pillow inserts paired with my Rainbow Sea Turtle Pillow Cover as an option in my shop. The insert will be made to order by myself whilst the kapok stuffing lasts, so please be patient when ordering pillow covers with inserts as I will be undergoing the same process I've described above =)

If you make your own kapok pillow insert, please share your work below in the comments!

Hi, it's Veronika, your vegan friend and content creator of Veronika Honestly (no, not my surname).
I'm mathemagician (making money as maths tutor! ?), a bit of an artist (well, trying to get back to art) and also animal and adventure lover.
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