By Rick Blanchard, BestMattressReviews.com.
Large and bulky, mattresses pose a serious hazard when sent to the landfill. They don’t crush or compact easily and often clog machinery. Mattresses also tend to last a long time because of the steel and synthetic materials used to make them. So how do you find a true green mattress that’s environmentally friendly, made with sustainable methods, and biodegradable? You look for the right certifications and understand what methods and components make a mattress truly green.
1. Look for Certifications. The mattress industry doesn’t have regulations surrounding labels that read “green”, “natural”, “all-natural”, or “organic”. However, there are many national and international organizations that monitor and certify certain aspects of the manufacturing process from the harvesting of raw materials to the off-gassing of the finished product. Certifications often have a very specific focus like human health or environmental impact. When looking for a sustainable mattress option, a few to watch for include:
OEKO-TEX MADE IN GREEN: OEKO-TEX monitors the sustainability of the processes used to make the products. They have another certification called the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 that tests for harmful substances and emissions but does account for sustainability.
Cradle to Cradle: The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute requires materials and fibers to meet a number of sustainable criteria. They monitor carbon emissions, water conservation, and ecological impact amongst other things. They may certify components of the mattress such as the latex or cover materials.
The Global Recycle Standard: This certification comes from the Textile Exchange. It certifies that materials have been produced through environmentally healthy and sustainable methods.
Other certifications like the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) certify that the materials in the mattress are organic or have been produced using organic methods. If you don’t recognize the certification on a mattress, take the time to look it up so you know exactly what it means.
2. Know Your Biodegradable Options. No mattress is 100 percent biodegradable, but there are options that are 95 percent natural and organic, which makes them the most biodegradable mattresses on the market. These mattresses have components that break down over time. While they may not disappear like a loaf of the bread, these mattresses won’t leave behind residue for decades to come.
Of the most common mattress options—innerspring, foam, hybrid, latex—natural latex is the most biodegradable. Natural latex, not synthetic which is derived from petrochemicals, is made from the sap of the rubber tree. The latex goes through a manufacturing process that produces mattresses that are anywhere from 60 to 95 percent natural. They’re comfortable and durable, though they may come with a high price tag.
3. Balance Sustainability with Durability and Price. Look for a mattress made with as many natural and organic components as your budget can afford. The durability of the mattress makes a big difference too. A mattress that needs to be replaced every five years rather than every ten may not be the best choice even if it’s made of natural materials.
You’ll also have to balance sustainability with your budget and price range. Natural latex mattresses have incredible durability, but they are also expensive. If natural latex isn’t an option, you might consider a latex hybrid that has innersprings or other synthetic materials to reduce the cost but still offers excellent comfort and a lower environmental impact.