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Count Sheep, Not Harmful Synthetics

April 19, 2018

It’s time to go green, but what are the options for eco-friendly mattresses? Are there options?

Who would have thought that the comfy mattress you’ve been sleeping on for years contains dozens of potentially harmful substances and materials, from petrochemicals to adhesives to dyes to flame retardants, among other toxins and carcinogens. Luckily for green-minded consumers, though, there’s never been a better time to find a truly “green” mattress.

“Green technology and innovation have impacted a wide range of industries in recent years and this growing demand has led many mattress manufacturers to offer sustainable products as well,” reports Tuck, a website dedicated to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free resources. “However, terms like ‘green,’ ‘natural’ and ‘eco-friendly’ are often misused or exaggerated within the mattress industry.” Further complicating matters, there is no regulatory body fact-checking green claims within the mattress industry, although certifications are available for certain mattress materials like foam, latex, and fabrics.

So, what’s a green-minded, health-conscious mattress shopper to do? First and foremost, know what to look for. According to Tuck, a true green mattress features natural and/or organic materials (natural latex, plant-based polyfoam or memory foam, cotton, wool, etc.). Tuck says that any mattress that contains less than 60 percent natural or organic material has no right to market itself as “green.”

To wit, if a mattress meets the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), at least 95 percent of its materials are certified organic, while certain noxious chemicals (chemical flame retardants, polyurethane) can’t be present at all. Meanwhile, the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) certifies that a latex mattress is made from 95 percent organic latex, with similarly stringent restrictions on what can be in the remaining five percent of the mattress.

Another certification to look for is OEKO-TEX, which sets limits on how much a given mattress can off-gas potentially harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde and other so-called volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) linked to respiratory illness, memory impairment and other human health issues.

Foam mattress buyers should keep an eye out for the CertiPUR-US label, which certifies polyfoams and memory foams as made without ozone depleters, chemical flame retardants, heavy metals, formaldehyde and phthalates, and emit little if any volatile organic compounds that can compromise indoor air quality.