The Search for a Natural Mattress
Why is Mattress shopping so confusing
- Misleading reviews - it turns out there is a rather cozy tie between many mattress companies and their online reviewers. Colorado Public Radio did an awesome piece on this pretty bizzare sector here.
- Green-washing - this is really prevalent in pretty much every product area, and mattresses are no exception, I honestly think I even fell for a bit of green-washing in my own mattress purchase!
- Price - mattresses are a big purchase, they're expensive, and if you get a high quality one they should be with you for the next 10-20 years. So it can definitely feel like a high pressure situation!
Given all of that, it's hard to know what to trust, from reviewers and mattress companies alike.
I found it incredibly challenging to balance finding a high quality mattress, that was plant based, ideally organic, and also affordable.
Why should I buy a Natural Mattress?
I know this is a cliche, but its a valid one, you spend so much time on your mattress. If your spending 1/3 of your 24 hr day on a mattress heavily laden with chemicals for 15+ years, how could it not affect you in some capacity?
What Chemicals are in traditional mattresses?
Well, firstly, its hard to know because mattress manufacturers are not legally required to disclose the chemicals used in their beds. Ya. So that does make this whole process significantly more challenging.
However, we do know that most traditional mattresses can (and most often do) contain:
- Polyurethane foam
- Synthetic latex
- Flame retardants (HFRs, PBDEs, Boric Acid, Vinyl, Antimony, TDCPP or TCEP, Decabromodiphenyl Oxide, & Antimony)
- Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) - Ozone depletors
- Mercury, lead and other heavy metals
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
So how do I know my mattress is safe?
Third part certifications are the best way to know whats in your mattress. Here are a few you should look for:
- No CFCs
- No PBDEs, TDCPP or TCEP flame retardants
- No mercury, lead, or other heavy metals
- No formaldehyde
- no phthalates
- Low VOC emissions
- GOTS (Global Organic Textiles Standard)
- Textile products that contain a minimum of 70% organic fibers
- All chemical inputs must meet certain environmental and toxicological criteria
- A functional waste water treatment plant is mandatory for any wet-processing units
- GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard)
- Latex must contain more than 95% of certified organic raw material
- GREENGUARD Gold®
- Offers stricter certification criteria, considers safety factors to account for sensitive individuals (such as children and the elderly)
- STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEK®
- No Azo colourants, formaldehyde, pentachlorophenol, cadmium, nickel, etc.
- Regulates many other harmful chemicals, even if they are not yet legally regulated
- Meets CPSIA (US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) lead requirements
- EuroLatex ECO-Standard
- No Heavy metals
- No Nitrosamines
- No Pesticides
- Low Volatile organic components
What I Looked For
- In my budget - our new bed needed to be affordable, but mattresses are expensive, no matter how you slice it.
- Plant based - I wanted everything to be plant based when it came to my mattress. For everything to be eventually compostable was the dream, but as long as petroleum wasn't involved, I was willing to give it a shot.
- Ideally organic - I was willing to compromise on the organic part, just knowing that my mattress was minimally plant based was the biggest thing I cared about
- Ideally Local - I was also willing to compromise on finding a local mattress company, but I was really hoping I'd be able to do so!
Who I bought From
My boyfriend and I bought our most recent mattress from Sleep Nation, a local Denver Company.
The reasons we did so were:
- Budget: we were able to get a model with organic latex within our budget
- Local: The mattresses are made in Denver
- Plant Based: 7" of plant based memory foam sits underneath 3" of latex
- Letex is certified by GOLS
- Plant based memory foam is 50% plant oils 50% petro mix
- Covering is made of organic cotton
- Certifications: CertiPUR-US®, GOLS Latex, GOTS mattress cover
- 15 year warranty, and free recycling of your old mattress, will accept your mattress back for recycling when it's run its course.
My boyfriend and I were able to get a Broadway Model on clearance, so it was a steal. if I had to pay full price I definitely would have gone in a different direction.
Also, our new bed is outrageously comfortable! We've been referring to it as "the cloud" and we both feel as though we've been sleeping better since switching from the traditional spring mattress we were on before.
What I wish i knew earlier
I had never heard of plant-based memory foam when I walked into Sleep Nation, but I did notice that it was less expensive than I expected.
I now know that most plant based memory foam mattresses are not 100% plant based. Most are actually closer to 20% plant derived. Pretty much anything advertised as "memory foam" is at least 50% petroleum. So while plant based is definitely a step in the right direction, it's not plastic / petroleum free.
I wish I would have know this earlier, I may have made a different decision.
However, even though my mattress is not completely biodegradable, it is still recyclable, and is supposed to last at least 15 years! So, while we maybe could have made a better choice, I'm still ok with our purchase.
how to cut costs
Buying all natural in the mattress department can be expensive, so how can you make it more affordable?
Ditch your boxspring.
I stopped using boxspring when I moved out of my parents house. I move so often (I haven't lived in the same place for over 9 months since I was 18) that lugging a box spring around seemed pretty freaking useless.
Platforms are where it's at. I've switched to a simple mattress frame made by Zinus (link) that folds and travels easily in my car. It also gives tons of storage room under the bed!
So when we decided to upgrade to a queen, I was on the prowl on craigslist. I found a high quality, barely used, queen Zinus frame for $100 (normally $130). It was so close I just walked to pick it up! Second hand winning.
What I did with our old mattress
We gave it away!
We could have offset the cost of our new bed by selling our old mattress and frame on craigslist. However, I decided to give it to my brother and his fiance who are working on furnishing a guest room!
^ The real reason we needed a bigger mattress
Recommended Mattress Companies
Note: I am not receiving anything from any of these companies in exchange for these recommendations, they are based purely on my own research and opinions.
- The Futon Shop
- Certifications: GOLS & GOTS
- CertiPUR-US® is a certification for foams, since the Futon Shop doesn't use synthetic foams they don't have / need this certification
- The Futon Shop offers mattresses that will eventually biodegrade! They are made of latex and wool, which is about as good as it gets. Depending on your price point, I would keep an eye out and wait for a sale!
- The main reason I didn't buy from the Futon Shop was that we were ready to make our purchase, and I didn't have the time to wait for a sale (and they do occasionally have rather large sales!) If the purchase could have waited, I probably would have bought from these guys.
- Also, another purchase coming up for us is a replacement futon pad, and I am definitely going to buy from the Futon Shop for that!
- Made in San Francisco!
- Certifications: GOLS & GOTS
- Sleep On Latex
- Certifications: Oeko-Tex and eco-Institut Latex, GOTS-Certified Organic Cotton and GOTS-Certified Organic New Zealand Wool,
- Made of 100% Natural Latex Foam, GOTS-Certified Organic Cotton and GOTS-Certified Organic New Zealand Wool, this mattress marks a new standard in Latex Mattresses. Our design team carefully crafted this natural latex mattress for comfort, beauty, durability and ease of use! Each mattress is hand sewn, assembled and packaged in the USA by our highly skilled production team.
- Made in Chicago!
MIXED NATURAL / PETRO
- Sleep Nation
- Certifications: CertiPUR-US®, GOLS, GOTS
- I think Sleep Nation is an awesome "split the difference" option. Their plant based memory foam isn't 100% plant based, but it's still a step up from the traditional stuff. They also do use 100% natural latex, and their beds are certified to last 15 years.
- Note: Sleep Nations website is pretty terrible. I was able to walk into their store, see their mattresses, and negotiate price. I would highly recommend either calling or going to a store as opposed to ordering online.
- Made in Denver!
PETRO, BUT CERTIFIED TO BE NON-TOXIC
- Tuft and Needle
- Certifications: CertiPUR-US®, GREENGUARD GOLD®,STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEK®
- As far as price goes, it's hard to beat Tuft & Needle. They offer incredibly competitive prices on all their mattress
- Tuft and needle, though the mattresses could be considered non-toxic, are made with petroleum. The bottom layer is a high-density polyurethane foam and the top layer is Tuft & Needle Adaptive Foam, which is also petroleum based. Both foam are certified by CertiPUR-US®.
- Made in the US, mostly in South Carolina!