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I have something admit. My mattress is not eco-friendly.
Well, it is in the sense that I bought it used. Three years ago, I was sleeping on the Ikea mattress I had bought off the girl who lived in my room before me. When a downstairs neighbor had to abruptly move out and sell all his furniture, I picked up a Tempur-Pedic mattress for $300 (! They usually start at $1,600).
That mattress is now covered with organic sheets, pillows, and pillow covers. But I never seriously considered getting a new one, even though I know most mattresses contain fire retardants, volatile organic compounds, and formaldehyde which off-gas into our air while we sleep on them. Hours a night. Almost every night. For years.
In fact, my mattress must be the most toxic thing in my home.
And yet, mattresses are expensive. Unfortunately, getting rid of a mattress often means throwing it out – because of bed bugs, nobody wants to buy or even take an old mattress. However, now that you can recycle your mattress, I might be ready to switch mine out.
But buyer beware: Not all mattress companies who bill themselves as eco-friendly are truly sustainable and non-toxic. “A lot of our customers are coming to us and saying we were burned by another mattress company,” Jeff D’Andrea, co-founder of Avocado Mattress, told me.
The problem is that many mattress companies that claim they are green use memory foam. They call it “eco foam,” but it’s still petroleum-based, and off-gasses VOCs (volatile organic compounds) into your home. Then there are chemical-based fire retardants (which are so toxic and don’t even really work), and glues.
“They may use a foam that mixes these traditional chemicals with something greener, but it isn’t even better. Unless you’re using 100% latex, or 100% organic, you’re still going to run into these issues,” D’Andrea says. “It’s like putting vitamin C in Coca-Cola and calling it a health drink.” The health effects of these chemicals include red eyes, a stuffy nose and throat, all the way up to respiratory issues and even certain types of cancers.
Of course, mattresses are legally required to include a tag with the chemical components. But mattress companies are not required to post this information online. So often, conscious consumers will buy a supposedly eco mattress, then see the tag and realize they’ve been duped. (Avocado is one of the few, if not only, companies that post their legal tag on their website to show the chemical composition.)
So if you’re looking at a mattress company that claims to be green, don’t buy unless they can answer these questions:
- What are the core components made of? To start, you’re looking for natural latex, organic cotton, and organic wool, instead of toxic polyester fill.
- Where do they come from? Many of the materials – cotton, latex, wool – can come from the U.S.
- Are you using glues to bind the layers together? Glue can be toxic. Some mattress companies handmake their mattresses and bind them physically with buttons or other materials.
- Are you using fire retardant? What kind? You’re looking for a natural fire retardant (like wool, for example), not a man-made, chemical one.
- What certifications do you have? USDA-Certified organic materials are just a start. GOTS is a step up for organic certification, in that it covers the whole supply chain, including labor. OEKO-TEX tells you that the mattress is free from toxic, off-gassing materials that can harm your health. GREENGUARD gold means chemical emissions low enough to make it suitable for use around children or the elderly.
- Can you send me a full copy of the legal tag? Just so you know for sure they are telling you the whole ingredient list.
That being said, here are some mattress companies to consider for your next huge home purchase.
$959 – $1,599
Avocado’s mattresses are GREENGUARD Gold Certified, made with natural and organic materials, including eco-INSTITUT-certified, Dunlop latex from tree-tapped and sustainable sources; GOTS certified wool from their very own herd of sheep in India (learn more about the sustainability and performance of wool); and GOTS-certified organic cotton. Avocado exceeds all federal flammability and CPSC standards without using chemical flame retardants. It combines the finest natural cushioning with an internal, zoned, pressure-point support system for proper back support and extended durability, making the mattress last twice as long as a conventional mattress. And the direct-to-consumer model (more about what this is here) brings the price down to the affordable region.
$829 – $1,519
My Green Mattress is a family-owned, certified organic, and made in the USA company. It was founded by a father who needed to make a hypoallergenic and non-toxic crib mattress that was up to his standards for his infant daughter who was suffering from severe allergies and eczema. They actually use a hand-tufting process to eliminate the need for toxic adhesives!
Crafted by hand with a 5-zone pocketed coil innerspring that offers lumbar support and a supportive edge, The Natural Escape is their most luxurious handcrafted organic mattress. It is handmade with a pocketed coil innerspring and all-natural and hypoallergenic materials, including: GOTS certified organic cotton, GOTS certified organic wool, and GOLS certified organic Dunlop latex.
Customers can get a risk-free, 120-night sleep trial, with a 20-year warranty. Everything is made to order and shipped free across the country in about one week. Plus, veterans can apply for an additional $50 off their order.
$299 – $2,448
PlushBeds mattresses are made of only high-quality, non-toxic materials. They are GreenGuard Certified, which means they go above and beyond when it comes to eliminating any and all harmful chemicals. They’re also certified by GOTS Organic, USDA Organic, and OEKO-TEX. They have quite a selection of different organic, natural, and hybrid mattresses so you can find one that fits your budget. Whether you prefer natural latex, memory foam, cooling, temperature regulating, or even a sofa-bed, they’ve got it! Plus, you have a 100-night money-back guarantee so you don’t have to worry about whether or not the mattress will be a good fit for you — you can try it yourself!
$1,299 – $2,499
Saatva sells more conventional mattresses, but also has several non-toxic, eco-friendly collections as well, such as their 100% natural and organic Saatva Latex Hybrid and their Zenhaven. These mattresses are handcrafted in American and Canadian factories of 100% natural American Talalay latex, layered with 100% organic New Zealand wool, and wrapped in organic cotton. They are also OEKO-TEX certified.
$899 – $1,399
Awara’s organic luxury mattress is made from natural latex foam (instead of the toxic synthetic), humanely-sourced New Zealand wool (for a natural fire retardant), and organic cotton (for moisture-wicking and breathability). Their Natural Dunlop latex foam is sourced from thoughtfully-grown, Rainforest Alliance certified rubber trees and actually has temperature regulating qualities to keep you cool. Plus, the system of individually-wrapped pocketed coils can help keep weight distributed and prevent neck, back, and hip pain. You get a 365-night trial when you buy an Awara mattress, and 10 trees will be planted with your purchase too!
$1,199 – $4,799
Naturepedic mattresses are made of U.S.-grown, GOTS-certified organic cotton, GOTS-certified organic wool, GOLS-certified (Global Organic Latex Standard) latex, and a steel innerspring. The mattresses are manufactured in their own facility in Ohio. Their other certifications include: GREENGUARD gold, Forest Stewardship Council, Rainforest Alliance, and Made Safe, which means their mattresses have been made with ingredients not known or suspected to cause human health harm. They’re also a 1% For the Planet member, as well as a whole slew of other associations, certifications, and awards. They offer adult, kid, and crib mattresses.
$999 – $2,299
Amerisleep’s memory foam is made mainly from Greenguard certified soybean extracts in a Variable Pressure Foaming (VPF) chamber, which is a way of production that creates virtually zero emissions. The foam comes together in a sealed chamber so that any pollutants are trapped in a carbon filter instead of escaping into the air we breathe. It’s more efficient too, which means they can make more foam out of fewer raw materials, limiting waste and lowering costs. For returned mattresses, they work with local partners to ensure that any returned mattresses get recycled instead of thrown away.
$799 – $1,799
Brentwood Home’s selection of eco-friendly mattresses like their Cedar Natural Luxe or Hybrid Latex are made in L.A. out of sustainable and non-toxic materials like organic wool and cotton, buckwheat, natural latex, and kapok (a natural fiber similar to cotton). They offer a 1-year sleep trial with free, carbon-offset shipping and returns, plus they plant trees and donate relief beds with every purchase.
$899 – $1,124.25
EcoSleep mattresses, by Brooklyn Bedding, are made of sustainably sourced Joma wool and 100% organic cotton. Their natural shell composition promotes breathability and comfort. On the inside, the structure consists of a triple layer of pure, Rain Forest Alliance-certified latex. They are made in the U.S.A and shipped in cardboard boxes. Each mattress comes with a 10-year warranty.
$899 – $1,699
Spindle mattresses are manufactured in England of OEKO-TEX-certified Dunlop latex from Pennsylvania; organic cotton grown in Texas, New Mexico and sometimes India that is knit in South Carolina; and wool from sheep raised according to Eco-Wool standards in the Pacific Northwest that is carded by Woolgatherers Carding Mill in California. You assemble the shipped mattress yourself in order to get it to your exact firmness specifications, and you can easily swap out latex layers later to make it softer or firmer.
$1,799 – $3,599
The Nest Certified Organic Mattress is designed and hand-crafted in partnership with OMI in OMI’s Eco-Factory™ out of certified organic materials like GOLS-Certified Organic Natural Rubber Latex, Quilted GOTS-Certified Organic Wool, and a GOTS-Certified Organic Cotton Cover. There are no synthetic fire retardants used, the raw materials are sanitized with ozone, and the professionals assembling each layer aren’t even able to wear scented deodorants or perfumes!
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COCO-MAT mattresses are made with natural fibers mainly sourced in Europe: natural rubber latex, coconut fiber, organic cotton, seaweed (to release a subtle iodine scent, which helps with breathing and allergies), wool, eucalyptus leaves, cactus fiber, and horsehair. They make a wide variety of mattress types to choose from, from simple to multi-layered, kids and cribs mattresses—plus pillows, duvets and even furniture. There are no metal springs, which can be noisy and uneven, or toxic components. All of their mattresses, pillows, and sleep products are handmade at their privately owned factory in Xanthi, Northern Greece, which has a virtually neutral carbon footprint, recycling rates of 96%, and is certified according to ISO 9001:2008 (quality management system) and ISO 14001:2009 (environmental management system). Their certifications include Forest Stewardship Council, OEKO-TEX, GOTS, and Sustainable Furnishing Council.
$1,349 – $3,799
SavvyRest’s organic mattresses are made with layers of Soft, Medium, or Firm natural latex foam rubber, in a wide range of custom combinations. They can even customize each side of a mattress if you’re one-half of a couple! The core components are layers of natural Dunlop or Talalay latex foam, with casings of pure organic cotton and organic wool batting quilted inside. They also manufacture a natural innerspring made of recycled steel, an organic wool-filled mattress, organic bedding, and organic mattress toppers. Their Virginia-made organic sofas, loveseat, and armchairs feature the finest natural, non-toxic, and organic materials throughout, including solid hardwood, organic hemp and cotton fabrics, organic wool batting, pure natural latex foam, natural jute webbing, coconut fiber, and zero-VOC finishes. Savvy Rest’s mattresses were rated “Greenest” in a natural mattress review by National Geographic’s Green Guide, and their certifications include GREENGUARD gold, GOTS, Cradle to Cradle, Eco-Institut, USDA Organic, and OEKO-TEX, plus, they are a B Corp.