For Kids in Need, Sweet Dreams are Possible with PJs Made of Westin Heavenly Bed SheetsBy Matt Villano
You don’t need a Ph.D. to understand the link between sleep and wellness. Get good sleep, and your health improves. Sleep poorly (or, perhaps, not long enough), and your likelihood for health problems increases — regardless of age.
It stands to reason, then, that one way to improve the health of children worldwide is to put them in positions to get more sleep — starting with the routine of putting on pajamas. In fact, donning a pair of cozy PJs each night before bed gives children a feeling of safety and security, and prepares them for a good night’s sleep.
Still, it’s a hard truth that not all kids — particularly those from low income families — have access to something that so many take for granted. Above all else, this is the basic idea behind a revolutionary new sustainability program from Westin.
The program, dubbed Project Rise: ThreadForward, was unveiled last month and revolves around upcycling linens that have reached the end of their lifecycle from the brand’s signature Heavenly Bed.
Though these linens would have once been discarded, as part of a partnership with a nonprofit named Clean the World, Westin collects, processes and reweaves used bed linens, transforming a certain percentage of the linens into pajamas that are then donated to children in underserved communities.
It also affords Westin and Marriott guests the opportunity to purchase the pajamas and send a portion of every sale directly to the charity, Delivering Good.
According to Catherine Flint, senior manager for Brand Management & Marketing at Westin, the initiative represents the hotel industry’s first large-scale textile upcycling program.
“When we were determining what product to make from the discarded linens, it was a no brainer to create pajamas, as this idea addresses a wellness issue of sleep deprivation in children and also keeps textiles out of landfills,” she says. “All of us are excited to see the impact this program will have on the industry.”
A Journey from Linens to PJs Unfolds
The success of Project Rise: ThreadForward requires a true team effort and makes use of a groundbreaking technology.
First, housekeepers at individual Westin properties will collect soiled and unusable linens and send them to a centralized spot.
Next, with the help of Clean the World, Westin breaks down the linens to their most basic fibers, and reweaves them into a new thread that is soft and also compliant with strict U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines that govern children’s clothes.
Shawn Seipler, founder and CEO of Orlando-based Clean the World, says the reweaving step is infinitely more complicated than it sounds because the process involves separating textiles down to their basic fibers, such as polyester and cotton, and then building them back up again.
He added that the technology behind reweaving textiles is brand-new.
“Only one percent of textiles globally are recycled this way,” says Seipler, whose organization has recycled soaps and other bottled bathroom amenities from hotels around the world since 2009. “It’s pretty exciting to be at the cutting edge of something that could change the way we think about recycling forever.”
Once the pajamas are ready for distribution, a second nonprofit called Delivering Good will step in and donate them to underserved and disadvantaged communities.
An Idea Sprung to Life
The ThreadForward concept has been more than two years in the making.
The idea first emerged from a global initiative involving Westin associates across 220 properties. Named “Project Rise,” Flint says the program served as a rallying cry to help the brand determine how Westin could spread well-being around the world and help the communities in which associates serve.
Employees were challenged to come up with ideas to empower these communities. One of the suggestions that emerged from brainstorming sessions: Recycling linens and bedding to help those in need.
This trash-into-treasure notion resonated. According to Flint, two aspects stuck out in particular: (1) As more people integrate wellness into their lifestyles, giving back to the community has become increasingly important in people’s overall sense of well-being, and (2) sleep is the foundation of well-being, and research indicates that the simple act of putting on pajamas as part of a bedtime routine can improve a child’s quality of sleep.
“When you have a program that’s better for the Earth and good for kids, everybody wins,” says Flint.
The Greater Impact
Flint expects the project to produce thousands pairs of pajamas, and a minimum of 1,500 of those would be earmarked for charity this year. With Delivering Good and their network of community partners, Westin will begin donating the first 1500 pajamas next month to children in need, who are most prone to suffer sleep anxieties, in markets around the world.
Now that ThreadForward is online, the next push will be to grow the model. For Seipler at Clean the World, the hope is that upcycling like ThreadForward is eventually adopted across the industry by a variety of brands.
Travelers also can support the brand’s efforts directly by purchasing pajamas on Westinstore.com. A portion of every sale will support Delivering Good — and help ensure little ones a restful sleep.