Today more than ever before, people are trying to implement a clean, natural lifestyle in all areas of their lives. From the food that you eat to the items you purchase for in and around your home, you want it all to be as close to natural as possible. Organic foods with no toxic pesticides and grown with eco-friendly farming methods are becoming more popular. In the home, natural textiles, foams and woods are also becoming more popular as people seek to live cleaner lifestyles. It only makes sense to consider your mattress when trying to go green as well, as approximately 1/3 of your life is spent there.
Unfortunately, a large percentage of mattresses made today are made up of a combination of petroleum-based nylon, polyester, press board, polyurethane foam and vinyl, and are treated with flame retardants of chemical origin like, phosphates, silicon, and boric acid. They are also sometimes wrapped in flame-resistant fibers like, polyvinylidene chloride and melamine. Those substances aren’t really what you want on your skin for 8 hours a day.
Chemically treated materials commonly used in mattresses can negatively affect human health. By releasing toxic chemicals, these materials contaminate our air, water, food supplies and environment through the processes of volatilization (off-gassing), abrasion, leaching and oxidation. These toxins get into our bodies by inhalation (the most common method), as well as ingestion, breastfeeding, hand-to-mouth contact and skin absorption. The associated health impacts can be significant. In addition to headaches and fatigue, research shows that increases in asthma, cancer, infertility, preterm birth, autism, obesity, lower IQ, memory and learning problems, and advanced puberty may be directly related to the release of toxic chemicals into our bodies and the environment.
Some mattresses on the market today use an increased proportion of natural materials, like natural latex, plant-based poly foams, and other natural fabrics. These mattresses are not completely organic, but do use more natural materials than what other traditional mattresses use. However, these types of mattresses are not truly organic, and can still cause health issues. Every time you move on a polyurethane foam mattress, it compresses. Then as it expands to its original shape, it sucks in dust, old skin, bacteria, and moisture. Not only does polyurethane foam fail to resist moisture, leading to dust mites, mold and mildew, it also consists of an open cell honeycomb structure that provides the perfect living space for dust mites. Synthetic mattresses containing the less expensive polyurethane will degrade and compress more quickly as well.
True organic mattresses however, are manufactured by combining natural and non-toxic materials like organic wool, organic cotton, and organic latex and do not contain the chemicals that traditional mattresses have. Organic cotton and wool are the most common sources of padding and fabric. These natural materials are processed with mechanical means, grown without dangerous chemical products, and used in the manufacturing process without the addition of any toxic substances.
Organic latex mattresses are often recommended for people with allergies and respiratory issues. Often, allergy and respiratory problems are caused by chemical toxins or pesticides that are incorporated in the conventional mattress manufacturing process. Organic latex mattresses are pesticide-free, chemical-free, and thus, hypoallergenic. Organic latex is inherently hypoallergenic, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, and resistant to water. It is resistant to dust mites, bacteria, fungus, mold, mildew, bedbugs and other allergens. Natural latex has also been proven to increase respiratory health.
Organic wool mattresses are also beneficial for people who have allergies because the wool is not dipped in abusive chemicals. In its natural form, wool is 100% hypoallergenic and it resists bacteria, mold, mildew and dust mites. Wool fibers contain scales that act as a self-cleaning mechanism and ventilating system that transport moisture and allergens away. Because wool readily releases moisture, it does not allow for the damp conditions that mold and dust mites thrive on.
Organic fabrics and fibers are grown and processed differently than traditional versions, without toxic pesticides, chemical dyes, and other treatments. Organic cotton is considered one of the most hypoallergenic materials, used in most organic mattresses. Organically grown wool and natural latex are also hypoallergenic for most people, and are also produced without the pesticides and other chemicals used in traditional methods. In addition to not using chemicals in their materials, most organic mattresses are also made without adhesives or glues, which are a strong source of chemical odors and off-gassing. This results in an organic bed that is more likely to keep your indoor air clean and healthy, while not irritating individuals sensitive to chemicals.
By purchasing an organic mattress, you will also be helping the environment by reducing your carbon footprint and supporting our ecosystem. Organic mattresses are both sustainable and biodegradable. Considering mattresses contribute 450 million pounds of waste, and fill more than 100 million cubic feet of landfill space every year1, this is even more reason to go green. By creating more awareness, transparency and demand for green products in general, we can all help to keep this beautiful green earth green.
With so many benefits in purchasing an organic mattress, the purchase of one seems an obvious choice, as they are eco-friendly, free of chemicals, and non-toxic. With about one third of your lives spent in bed, what you sleep on does affect you, and your mattress is a long-term investment, not only in comfort, but also in your health.
1 Recycling v Landfill, Greenbedrecycling.com (visited on February 13, 2017)