The Ultimate Green Mattress Guide: Shopping for Organic Mattresses
Buying organic food may be commonplace, but shopping for an organic mattress can be a bit trickier as it isn’t something most people do very often. How do you know which is the best or most eco-friendly mattress? Is there some way to verify a retailer’s claims? To answer these questions and more, have a look at our green mattress guide.
People seek organic beds for a variety of reasons, from the health aspects they offer to their environmentally-friendly nature. Organic mattresses are quite possibly the greenest beds available. Whatever your reason for seeking a green mattress, do some reading before making a commitment.
Best Organic Mattress
The Harmony Bed is a 100% organic mattress and is available at Astrabeds.com.
Astrabeds makes some incredibly green mattresses. Not only are they eco-friendly, they are 100% organic, inside and out. The heart of Harmony Bed is made from three layers of organic dunlop latex which is sustainably raised and harvested, and independently certified to the Global Organic Latex Standard. Each side of the bed is customizable with latex of different firmnesses so everyone is happy.
Over the latex is an organic wool fire barrier with no synthetic chemicals. An organic cotton cover wraps the Harmony bed, making it completely organic, inside and out. This is one of the most eco-friendly mattresses you can buy and it is a fraction of the price of many others.
Types of Organic Mattresses
Organic mattresses are typically either innerspring or latex support systems. Innersprings have metal frames with layers of organic materials used for padding. Organic latex mattresses have layers of latex for support instead of coils. Obviously metal cannot be certified organic, so innerspring beds are not composed entirely of organic materials.
Organic latex is made from the sap of the rubber tree. These trees can be harvested in a sustainable fashion for around 30 years. When you read “natural” or “organic” latex, this is where it originates, though natural latex is not necessarily organic. The only recognized standard for finished latex foam is the GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard), and any company claiming to use organic latex should be able to provide third-party certification from an independent testing board approved to certify latex to the GOLS. Textiles like cotton and wool can be certified to a variety of different standards, but always be sure to look for certifications.
Some latex beds are made from petroleum instead of rubber sap. Others are made with a blend of petroleum and rubber sap. These synthetic beds cannot be labeled organic, though you may still see some labeled “natural.” Be careful when you see this label as there are no standards for labeling a product as natural. It is essentially a meaningless label, so don’t attribute value or health benefits with it.
What to Look for in a Green Mattress
As you start looking into the various brands and models of organic beds, you will see some terms or materials you aren’t familiar with. Let’s take a closer look at what may be in your green mattress.
Eco-Friendly Mattress Materials
There are some components to look for when shopping for an organic mattress. These are the types of materials you’ll find in many organic beds.
Organic wool – This soft sheep or goat hair is often used as a natural fire barrier in organic mattresses. In order to adhere to fire safety standards, mattress companies have to have a fire barrier. Many of these barriers consist of toxic chemicals that have been associated with health issues. Wool performs well without having to expose sleepers to toxic chemicals.
Organic cotton – This fibrous plant material is often used as fill or in the ticking or cover. Organic cotton is sustainably grown and harvested using fewer toxic pesticides and herbicides than with conventional methods.
Organic latex – Sap from the rubber tree is essentially baked to make latex. Organic latex is produced from sustainably growing rubber trees and harvesting the sap they produce over as long as 30 years a tree. Only organic methods are used for the life of the trees.
Green Mattress Certifications
How do you know if the bed you’re looking at lives up to the claims they make? Thankfully, there are organizations dedicated to helping customers cut through the marketing claims to get to the facts.
Here are some of the product certifications you will likely see on your quest to find a green mattress:
Control Union Certified Organic – This certifies the entire manufacturing process of the bed is organic from beginning to end. Control Union is a widely accepted global standardization organization.
eco-Institut Certified Latex – This certification from independent testing organization, eco-Institut, ensures a product is 100% organic and volatile organic compound (VOC) free.
GOLS – The Global Organic Latex Standard is a division of the Control Union that has a focus on latex. For a product to receive this certification the raw materials, latex processing and packaging have to be assessed. Working conditions and environmental impacts are also evaluated.
GOTS – The Global Organic Textile Standard is one of the leading organic certifications for textiles of all types.
Oeko-Tex Standard 100 – This isn’t an organic certification, but you often see it with organic products. It sets limits for harmful chemical emissions and other VOCs.
Oregon Tilth Certification – This organization provides organic sustainability certification for agricultural and textile products.
Organic Content Standard – OCS verifies organically grown materials by looking where they are grown and produced. They are a globally recognized standard.
TÜV Rheinland – This is an international standard, not for organics, but for durability.
USDA Organic– The United States Department of Agriculture has strict standards for labeling organic products and are recognized globally.
Here are some popular brands with their various certifications.
Data from individual retail sites.
Why Buy Sustainable Furniture?
Buying organic sustainable furniture is good for you and the environment. Organic products are grown using methods based on natural process and using few synthetic chemicals. This is a more eco-friendly approach than most contemporary agricultural processes, which are often chemical and energy intensive. Using less petroleum, which is what synthetics are made from, reduces our carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions.
Is an Eco-Friendly Mattress a Healthy Mattress?
Natural products grown organically are healthier to be around than their synthetic counterparts, typically. Humans have consumed natural, plant-based products our entire history. Many synthetic chemicals haven’t been around long or tested much. Some are even known to be toxic and should be avoided. A green mattress can limit your exposure to these toxins.
One of the best health aspects of eco-friendly mattresses is they are typically low-VOC products. If you aren’t familiar with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) you should get to know about them. VOCs are cases emitted from certain solids and liquids. They are a diverse group of chemicals, some of which have adverse health effects. Some of the health effects from VOC exposure include:
- Loss of coordination and nausea
- Irritation of eyes, nose and throats
- Liver, kidney and central nervous system damage
- Various types of cancers
Indoor concentrations of VOCs are often up to ten times higher than those of outdoors. They come from a number of different products, including mattresses. To help decrease the amount of VOCs you and your loved ones are exposed to, you should be mindful of the products in your home. Green beds tend to emit far fewer VOCs than their synthetic counterparts.
If you are looking for a healthier bed, an organic mattress is a very good choice. Make sure while you are shopping to pay attention to the certifications and read the claims made by the retailer carefully. Before you make your decision also be familiar with the warranty and return policy for the bed you are looking at.
These are great times to shop for sustainable sleep. There have never been so many eco-friendly options, especially with online shopping, which enables you to find organic mattresses almost anywhere in the country. If you pay attention and take your time, you will have no trouble finding a quality green mattress.