Are you in the market for a new mattress?
You need to replace your mattress every 10 years, at least, and with so many options available, choosing a new one is no easy feat. It probably doesn’t make it any less intimidating to learn that your conventional mattress isn’t very good for the environment – or your health.
For several decades now, mattresses have been manufactured using a range of synthetic materials, harsh chemical solvents, and flame retardants that aren’t very good for your body or the Earth.
You may never have thought of the environmental impact of your bed, but it’s very real.
There aren’t many regulations to protect consumers from the potentially harmful effects of mattress materials, but many companies are seeing the need for healthy, sustainable beds and addressing it with organic mattresses made sustainably with natural materials.
How can you choose such a mattress?
First, you should understand what types of organic mattresses are available, and what kinds of natural materials they’re made of.
It also helps to know what the labels on these mattresses mean, so you can choose a bed that truly meets your standards for safety and sustainability.
1. Types of Organic Mattresses
Organic mattress manufacturers make the same kinds of mattresses that conventional mattress makers do.
The most popular choice is inner spring mattresses, which use coiled springs for support and firmness and layers of soft padding material for comfort.
If you like a mattress that hugs your body like a foam mattress, you can choose a natural latex mattress – it’s similar to a memory foam mattress, in that it gives support without using springs, but it’s made from natural latex, processed from the sap of the rubber tree.
You should avoid memory foam, however, because it’s made from synthetic polyurethane and can off-gas toxic chemicals into your home.
If you need a mattress that will fold up easily, you might try a futon mattress.
An organic futon mattress made with organic cotton or wool has natural flame-retardant properties, but since flame retardants are required in all mattresses sold in the United States, you should avoid mattresses with organohalogen flame retardants (OFRs), as the Consumer Product Safety Commission has found that the risks of these chemicals outweigh their limited benefits.
2. Organic Mattress Materials
Organic mattresses are made with natural materials, including wool, cotton, and natural latex. They don’t contain synthetic latex, polyurethane foam, or other potentially toxic, synthetic products.
And because organic mattresses use organic materials, they’re more sustainable. Since natural materials are also more inherently flame retardant than synthetic materials, there’s less need for manufacturers to drench them in dangerous chemicals.
Take cotton, for example. Cotton is normally grown with a lot of pesticides – so much so that it’s considered the world’s dirtiest crop.
Cotton growers use 16 percent of the world’s pesticides, and it’s one of the world’s top four GMO crops, with as much as 98 percent of cotton grown in nine of 11 cotton-producing countries genetically engineered.
An organic cotton mattress, however, uses organic, non-GMO cotton that is grown without dangerous pesticides. That means you don’t have to worry about potentially dangerous pesticides in the fibers of the mattresses you and your family sleep on. You can also rest easy in the knowledge that your mattress isn’t harming the Earth.
3. Understanding Organic Mattress Labeling and Certification
In order to buy a quality organic mattress that really is made with sustainably, safe materials, you need to know what to look for in terms of labeling. The certifications manufacturers use on their products are far from transparent.
The highest-quality organic mattresses bear the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) label or, for mattresses that contain natural latex, the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS). These labels verify that your mattress is made with more than 95 percent organic textiles or latex.
Other labels you should look for on an organic mattress include Greenguard, or the more stringent Greenguard Gold.
These labels indicate that a mattress has been tested for off-gassing of formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can cause short- and long-term health effects, including skin irritation and breathing problems.
The Organic Content Standard 100 certification will let you know what percentage of organic materials your mattress contains.
A sustainable, non-toxic mattress is a must if you care about your family’s health and that of your planet.
Conventional mattresses are made with synthetic materials and drenched in chemicals, and can release those toxins into your home. Protect your health and the environment – made your next mattress a non-toxic, sustainable one.