Are Green Mattresses Really Biodegradable?
In an environmentally conscious society, “green, “organic” and “eco-friendly” have become buzzwords and their meanings can be confusing. At this time, the mattress industry does not have any federal standards when it comes to green labels. However, you do have some pretty good options. Let’s take a look at some eco-friendly options when you are looking for a new mattresses that are healthy for you and the environment.
Can you buy a biodegradable mattress?
The short answer is no, but the more correct answer is sort of. Mattresses are a large, complex product made with many components that have to go through several manufacturing processes. For that reason, there’s no mattress on the market today that’s 100 percent biodegradable. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find an environmentally responsible model. And, of course, some models are more “green” than others.
Look for Natural, Organic Materials
Mattresses made with natural and/or organic materials throughout the comfort layers, support core, and cover are far more eco-friendly than mattresses of the past. You can look for:
- Natural Latex: Derived from the sap of the rubber tree, natural latex is a key component of the only mattresses that are considered biodegradable. However, biodegradable is relative when it comes to mattresses. Natural latex mattresses leave behind a milky white film so they’re not as biodegradable as something like a banana peel. They also have a small percentage of synthetic latex derived from petrochemicals. The most bridgeable models are composed of 95 percent natural latex.
- Plant-Based Foams: Plant-based foams are made using plant oils rather than chemicals. They reduce exposure to harmful emissions but aren’t necessarily biodegradable.
- Organic Fibers in Mattress Cover: Organic cotton and wool mattress covers are biodegradable and made through environmentally safe practices.
- Fire Socks: Many manufacturers choose to use chemical flame retardants to meet strict flammability standards. These flame retardants expose people to harmful chemicals and emissions. Fire socks made of materials such as wool, cotton, thistle, or Kevlar are a natural alternative. (Kevlar is a synthetic material but its manufacturing does not use any chemicals.
How Do I Know If a Mattress is Green or Biodegradable?
Because all those green buzzwords don’t mean much in the mattress industry, you have to rely on certifications from independent organizations. These organizations may focus on environmental sustainability or human health factors. A few we recommend include:
- Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): This certification focuses on both the raw materials and derivative products of organic fibers. A mattress with a GOTS certification will be made of at least 70 percent certified organic materials. Certain harmful chemicals such as polyfoam or formaldehyde cannot be found in the remaining 30 percent of the mattress.
- Global Latex Standard (GOLS): GOLS only applies to latex products. A mattress with a GOLS certification will be one of the most environmentally friendly models on the market as the latex must be 95 percent organically produced. Natural latex mattresses can have both a GOTS and GOLS certification.
- OEKO-MADE IN GREEN: This certification comes from a group of 18 research and testing institutes from around the world. These mattresses have been evaluated for sustainable practices throughout the manufacturing process.
- Cradle to Cradle: Latex and mattresses with organic covers are the most commonly evaluated for this certification. It covers carbon emissions, water conservation, and the overall ecological impact of the manufacturing process.
Is Latex My Only Option?
While latex mattresses are biodegradable, they can be expensive. If latex isn’t in your budget, innerspring and hybrid mattresses are your next best option. Hybrids may combine innerspring technology with latex foam so you get more biodegradability.
No matter what kind of mattress you buy, search for those natural, organic materials and check the certifications. They’ll give you a better idea of the how the mattress was made along with its biodegradability.
What type of mattress do you have – is it biodegradable? Leave your suggestions or comment below!