We spend over half of our life on a mattress and therefore, it is in ones best interest to make sure that your mattress is non-toxic, organic and made of materials that are healthy for you.
The Roomhints organic mattress buying guide will help you understand the basics when buying an organic mattress and a deeper dive into the different organic mattress companies.
We hope this organic mattress buying guide helps you in your search for the perfect mattress.
1. Materials: Organic Latex, Organic Cotton, Organic Wool
Just like all the ingredients in one single food items from the grocery store – mattresses can have hundreds of different combinations of materials. What do they all mean? And are they good for you?
Used as a filling in pillowtop mattresses and mattress covers. Polyester is a synthetic material that has toxic chemicals embedded in it.
Can be found in some mattresses for extra padding and temperature regulation. Be sure to look out for a companies wool certifications.
A breathable material used both inside and outside of the mattress. Look out for the GOTS certification on the brands site.
GOTS is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.
Used in mattresses to bond layers, materials and seams together for the perfect fit. Quilting is often used in combination with adhesives to further strengthen the bond between layers.
Found in most mattresses sold in the United States due to flammability laws for fire resistance. But not to worry, there are organic ways in which fire resistance in a mattress can be obtained without using toxic flame retardants.
Either formed as open coils or individually wrapped coils (also called pocketed coils), these are a key structural components that establish firm support at the base of the mattress. Look for companies that use recycled steel coils, such as, Saatva.
Did You Know?
Taking a deeper look into the materials of a mattress led to Barry Cik starting Naturepedic. As an environmental engineer, founder Barry Cik, had been chasing chemicals for his entire career. In anticipation of his first grandchild, Barry went to purchase a baby crib mattress and found that most of the crib mattresses on the market used harmful chemicals and materials in both the assembly process and the final products.
“I knew all about vinyl/PVC, polyurethane foam, and the various chemicals contained in them, and there was no way I was going to put my grandchild to sleep within a few inches of these chemicals.”Barry Cik, Founder, Naturepedic.
Together with his two sons, Barry set out to found Naturepedic, a non-toxic and organic mattress manufacturer dedicated to providing parents with a better alternative. They created the first and only organic baby crib mattress designed with a patented food-grade waterproof surface made from non-GMO sugarcane with various breathable options.
2. Mattress Types: Innerspring, Memory Foam, and Hybrid Mattresses
Memory Foam Mattress
These mattresses are known for lush layers of memory foam and polyurethane material which conform to your body.
ProHINT: Look out for more natural materials like latex.
These beds do not have coils in them! This benefit is great for those who prefer to settle into the mattress with less of a bounce factor because the firmer core layer of foam helps provide a balanced support system.
Innerspring mattresses come in two different systems: open coil or individually pocketed springs. The outer quilting is typically made of traditional cotton fabric blends that give each mattress a unique look, fitted with steel coil springs for a firm base support.
A Hybrid mattress is built with two or more different support constructions. Commonly hybrid mattresses feature a foam set of top layers over an innerspring system or individually wrapped pocket coils.
3. Flame Retardant, is it toxic? Can it be avoided?
It is not illegal for a mattress to not have a chemical-laden flame retardant. Some salespeople may tell you that this is a requirement in order to push a mattress, but it’s not. For instance, some certified organic mattresses opt to use wool, latex or rayon as a flame retardant option.
For example, Naturepedic completely eliminates all flame retardant chemicals and barriers from its products while still passing all government flammability standards. This means safer, healthier sleep.
Wool is being used in abundance for this purpose now because its innate properties are naturally fire retardant. Wool can hold as much as 30 percent of its total weight in moisture, which means that a significantly higher temperature is required to ignite. It burns very slowly, smoldering and charring. This gives off minimal heat.
Wool’s structure is very unique. Microscopic scales that look a lot like pinecones cover every fiber. These scales rub against one another and get tangled. This ultimately holds the wood together and this unique composition is what makes it so resistant to burning.
Since fibers are crammed together and entwined an environment is created with very little oxygen. Wool is a breathable fabric, which keeps you cooler when you sleep. However, it does offer a firmer sleeping surface than what you may be used to, so just keep that in mind.
Latex is another popular option. Natural latex mattresses are created from the sap of a rubber tree. Don’t assume that just because a mattress is latex that it is free of fire retardants. There are synthetic latex mattresses available, as well as blends, so it is important that you fully read the label of the exact mattress you intend on buying.
Inherent rayon is a fiber that is also becoming increasingly popular because it can pass flammability tests successfully and it has a low cost to manufacture. High quality wool on average costs $15 per linear yard, but inherent rayon costs about $2 for the same amount.
It should be noted that inherent rayon is not 100 percent natural like some will have you believe. Chemically altered purified cellulose is involved in the production process. Rayon is essentially regenerated cellulose fiber that has been bonded to silica. So, it is not entirely eco-friendly or natural, but it is free of carcinogenic chemicals.
To choose a safe flame retardant mattress, be sure to stay away from mattresses made with toxic chemicals like PBDEs and instead search for certified mattresses that use materials like wool and rayon.
Harmful Mattress Flame Retardants To Avoid
There are a few flame retardant chemicals that stand out as more dangerous and toxic than others. These harmful flame retardants include:
- Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)
- Boric acid
- Antimony trioxide
- Decabromodiphenyl oxide
- Vinylidene Chloride
4. Certifications & Awards that are important?
Today, each mattress company has listed clearly on their site which certifications and awards it has been approved for but what does all this mean?
One certification that we think is super important is GOTS.
What is GOTS?
The company’s certification to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) expressively forbids the use of conventionally produced cotton. A GOTS certification requires a rigorous audit performed three times per year.
For example, Naturepedic’s entire finished product is GOTS certified. Their commitment to organic cotton contributes to healthier soils, decreased pesticide use and other environmental benefits.
“We use organic cotton fiber and fabrics instead of conventionally processed cotton. We source raw organic cotton batting from a collective of organic growers in Texas. Approximately 65% to 70% of the land on which these members grow organic cotton uses only “rainfed” water and no irrigation at all. When irrigation is used, these farms focus on more efficient irrigation techniques, primarily center pivot irrigation systems equipped with low energy precision.”Founder, Naturepedic
Naturepedic’s certifications include: Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard) and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council – Rainforest Alliance/Preferred By Nature),Organic Content Standard (OCS 100), MADE SAFE, GREENGUARD® Gold, USDA National Organic Program (NOP), Vegan by Vegan.org, and PETA.
What is GOLS?
The Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) is a materials and processing standard for organic latex and finished latex foam. These standards define worldwide recognized requirements that ensure organic status of textiles and latex, from harvesting the raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing up to labeling, in order to provide a credible assurance to consumers.
Avocado Green Mattress uses GOLS organic certified Dunlop latex, instead of polyurethane foam, from co-owned farmers’ societies in India, operating under the USDA’s National Organic Program. It’s grown without herbicides and pesticides. The process is elegantly simple: milky white latex sap is harvested in cups by tapping rubberwood trees. In an organic-certified processing facility we also co-own, the latex sap is then whipped, steam-baked and rinsed.
GOTS and GOLS are standards endorsed by the USDA’s National Organic Program.
5. What to look for to find a sustainable mattress company?
Naturepedic mattresses use modular designs to decrease waste yet maximize comfort. The modular designs allow consumers to replace only select components while keeping the majority of the mattress intact. This design feature means that when a consumer desires a change or needs to replace a damaged part, they only need to replace the part they need. Naturepedic luxury mattresses allow for a zip-out top layer that can be replaced as needed. A benefit of this design is that huge amounts of discarded mattresses are diverted from landfills.
Naturepedic holds its vendors to high quality and environmental stewardship standards and seeks businesses with demonstrated commitments to the environment and social justice. Naturepedic vendors collectively hold an impressive collection of certifications for both environmental and social standards. Naturepedic requires that all its suppliers meet organic or non-toxic standards as appropriate for that material.
Naturepedic recycles polyethylene, attained both from scrap collected during the mattress production phase and from scrap collected from damaged products. A 90:1 ratio reduces the material volume of the polyethylene scrap in a machine called a foam densifier and produces a polyethylene “brick”, which is then transferred to material recyclers. Naturepedic uses recycled steel to manufacture its own mattress coil springs. Most recently, Naturepedic has started a cooperative association with recycling companies. With this association, Naturepedic now has nationwide coverage for removal and recycling of mattresses, making the process more efficient and customer accommodating. Naturepedic continues to develop ways to keep mattresses out of landfills and protect the planet. In addition to donating and recycling, ALL Naturepedic mattresses are made without toxic chemicals to the GOTS standard. By combining safer materials, offering innovative design, and working with charity and recycling services, Naturepedic employs a responsible and sustainable end-of-life approach to mattresses.
One thing to note: it’s more expensive to recycle a foam mattress than it is to recycle a steel mattress. There is resell value for the steel but not for latex.
6. Don’t Forget to Buy Organic Pillows
Lastly, it’s super important for your pillows to be organic as well. The pillow has direct contact with your nose and skin. Therefore, you are breathing in the materials each night.
We love Naturepedic’s Organic 2-in-1 Adjustable Latex Pillow. They offer everything you might want in a pillow, including two distinct feels, adjustable fill and a machine-washable outer layer. The pillow is made up of two main components.
The first is an organic shredded latex core with adjustable fill to provide the perfect amount of support for your preferred sleeping position. The second is the outer encasement which features a smooth stretch-knit side and a luxuriously quilted side for two feels that are both truly amazing. The quilted side provides a fluffy cloud-like feel with dual-action compression of PLA fiber and latex. The smooth side easily stretches to conform to the unique shape of your head and neck. The outer encasement is also machine washable, so you can keep your pillow clean and hygienic for years to come. And as an added bonus, the organic shredded latex core is made from excess mattress materials to ensure that it does not end up in a landfill.
Thanks for reading through our buying guide to help you make the right decision when purchasing an organic mattress. We would love to know your thoughts as to what mattress you ended up purchasing and why? Or tag us #roomhints on Instagram to show us what you bought.
For more bedroom hints check out our organic bedsheet guide or our eco-friendly nursery room hints.