There are a lot of things to consider when it comes time to buy any mattress, not just eco-friendly mattress: size, type, budget, extra features. You need to spend a lot of time thinking about how the mattress will impact your sleep, your relationships, and your home … but what about the impact it will have beyond the walls of your bedroom? How will your mattress impact the environment?
It may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but the production and ultimate of mattress disposal can take its toll on the environment, as well as your own health — and for years, there was no way around this. But fortunately, as mattress technology has improved and we’ve become more aware of the importance of taking care of our environment, eco-friendly organic mattress options have grown.
Of course, these options require a lot of decisions and research on your part. To help you out, we’ve put together this quick guide on what to consider as you look for your eco-friendly mattress. In no time, you’ll be on your way to minimizing your environmental footprint as you maximize your nightly Z’s:
Look at the whole mattress.
Finding a true organic mattress can be challenging. Looking for the label “organic” is a good first step to finding an eco-friendly mattress. However, keep in mind that the word may only refer to one component of the mattress—for instance, the filling may be organic, but the mattress cover is made with toxic materials. If you can’t find this information on the label, be sure to ask one of the salespeople for further information.
Know what you’re avoiding.
“Eco-friendly” is a useful term, but it doesn’t mean all that much. When you’re looking at mattresses, either online or in a store, you’ll want to know just what you don’t want. Specifically: mattresses that have not been bleached, dyed, or treated with chemicals. You’ll want to be doubly sure to avoid VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which are associated with a number of health problems as well as emitting a distinctive smell that some find unpleasant.
Know what you’re looking for.
You’ll also want to know what materials and terms you want to see on the label. Eco-friendly mattress materials are many, but here are some you’ll want to keep an eye out for: plant-based oils, bamboo, aloe vera, soy, organic cotton, and natural latex, which comes from the sap of a rubber tree plant like the one shown above. Organic wool is also a smart option, as it contains natural fire retardant properties that allow manufacturers to avoid treating their mattresses with toxic chemicals (mattresses are required by law to be fire-retardant).
Know the trade-offs.
If you want to go fully green, you’ll need to make a few concessions. Your mattress may have some wrinkles, as chemical treatments are used to make materials wrinkle-free. You also may need to opt for a lower thread count, since the thin threads required for high-thread-count sheets are often strengthened with chemicals.
Seek third-party certification.
The words “organic” and “natural” gets tossed around a lot. Make sure there’s some meaning attached to them by looking for a 100% organic certification from a third-party like Oeko-Tex Standard 100, which certifies textiles free from harmful substances, or Global Organic Textile Standard, which certifies that a natural fiber was grown organically and processed sustainably.