Making a Smart Mattress Purchase: Find the Certifications, Read Labels, and Go Natural

(Guest post by Best Mattress Reviews)


Making a smart mattress purchase can be tough when the term “green mattress” doesn’t have a strict definition. Finding a sustainable option may take a little investigative work, but you can find a mattress with natural components that are biodegradable. Knowing the terms, looking for natural materials, and understanding sustainable mattress options will help you make a purchasing decision that leaves a smaller environmental footprint.


When “Green” Doesn’t Always Mean Green

Green isn’t the only mattress label that can be misleading. All-natural, organic, eco-friendly, and natural labels, too, may lead you to believe your mattress has a smaller impact on the environment than it does. Unfortunately, there are no established standards for what constitutes a “green mattress”, which means the mattress may be covered in a fabric made from organic cotton, but the whole mattress gets an organic label.

However, there are organizations that certify certain aspects of the mattress that help you wade through your choices. For example:

Eco-Institut is a German organization that looks for harmful emissions and chemical substances in textiles and building materials.

Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) checks latex products and only certifies those that are 95% organically produced.

GreenGuard checks for harmful emissions in finished mattresses, though it doesn’t guarantee from odors once the mattress is removed from the packaging.

USDA Organic applies only to the raw materials used to make the mattress, but it’s a start.

Once you’ve checked the certifications, it’s time to take a close look at the label.


Importance of Natural Materials

Because of the complex nature of making a mattress, no mattress is 100% green or organic. It will have some synthetic components or have been through some manufacturing processes. However, you can find mattresses that are made of 60% to 90% natural or organic materials, which are more sustainable. If the mattress finds its way to a landfill, natural materials will break down eventually.  

Check labels for as many natural materials as possible including organic farming methods and harvesting of the raw materials. True green materials to watch for include:

• Natural latex (not synthetic, which is made from petrochemicals)

• Plant-based polyfoam and memory foam

• Organic wool and cotton fibers in the outer cover

• Fire socks made of wool, thistle, cotton, or Kevlar

A green mattress should not be treated with any chemical flame retardants. Instead, they should have a fire sock over the mattress made from natural materials like organic wool, cotton, or thistle. Kevlar fire socks are still considered green because they don’t go through any chemical treatment during manufacturing. Some mattresses are not treated with flame retardants nor do they use a fire sock. However, their materials burn slow enough that they still meet fire safety standards.


Sustainable Mattress Options

Beyond the manufacturing process, mattresses take up a lot of space in landfills. Their compaction rate is 400% less than other household items. To increase sustainability and reduce the environmental impact of your mattress, you might want to consider latex.

Natural latex mattresses start from rubber harvested from rubber trees. Once harvested, the rubber can either go through Dunlop or Talalay process to produce the latex. Dunlop latex is denser and goes through fewer chemical treatments than Talalay, but both are still considered sustainable latex. Natural latex is biodegradable, so even if it does end up in a landfill, it breaks down eventually.

Latex mattresses come with a high price, but they offer the most environmentally friendly choice. If a latex mattress is out of your price range, look for a mattress with as many natural, organic materials as possible and check for certifications that ensure environmentally and socially responsible practices.

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