What is an Eco-Friendly Mattress?

August 03, 2021

What is an Eco-Friendly Mattress?

Eco-friendly mattresses are non-toxic mattresses that are made without materials that are harmful to the planet. As a result, these mattresses offer a good night’s sleep, and have the added benefit of being safer for families. A green mattress is a win on two fronts with one purchase.

Certain mattresses are more eco-friendly than others, and it all comes down to how the mattresses are constructed. There is a little more to the story than that, though. Here is what you need to know about eco-friendly mattresses, and why they are so important.

Why Buy an Eco-Friendly Mattress?

In today’s world, people are more eco-conscious. People are beginning to pay more attention to the planet, and its limited resources, than ever before. That is great news! The fact is our buying decisions have the largest impact on the products created. The more people who make earth-conscious purchasing decisions, like buying a green mattress, the more products will be made with protecting the planet and safeguarding resources in mind.

When consumers show companies that eco-friendly products are important, manufacturers are more inclined to spend the extra money to create items that are healthier for the planet.

Making pro-planet, environmentally friendly buying choices does all the following for consumers who care about and want to protect the planet. Purchasing natural and organic mattresses:

  • Improves product selection, as companies will make more planet-friendly products from which you can choose.
  • Reduces costs as the competition among eco-friendly businesses grows.
  • Conserves valuable resources for future generations.
  • Allows you, as a consumer, to feel better about your purchasing decisions, giving you a good night’s sleep in more ways than one.

These are just a few reasons why it is important to buy mattresses and other products made with eco-friendly materials.

What Happens to Mattresses That Are Thrown Away?

Another important reason to purchase a green mattress is this: Americans get rid of more than 18 million mattresses each year, many of which find their way into landfills, creating countless problems for landfills due to toxic chemicals, non-biodegradable synthetics, and more – not to mention the amount of space they occupy.

Eco-friendly, non-toxic, organic mattresses are usually 100 percent recyclable, meaning that these mattresses do not need to find their way into local landfills.

What to Look for When Choosing an Eco-Friendly Mattress?

There are many elements that go into eco-friendly mattresses. From the raw materials used to make the mattresses to the manufacturing process, shipping, and more, there is room for earth-friendly practices at every level of the process.

Key things to look for when choosing a mattress made from eco-friendly materials include the following:

Natural, non-toxic materials made without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and other potentially harmful ingredients.

  • Made without synthetic ingredients.
  • Low or reduced emissions in the manufacturing process.
  • Very low VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
  • Made with renewable materials that are abundant and easy to replace.
  • Recyclability, which means the mattress you purchase will not end up in a landfill.
  • Durability, which means the longer your mattress lasts, the longer it will be before you require a new one or dispose of your existing mattress.

You will spend a lot of time in close proximity to your mattress. You want to make sure you buy a mattress type that is good for the planet because that means it will be good for you as well. It means you will not be exposed to potentially toxic materials that could rob you of health and vitality while you sleep. This includes using an organic cotton mattress protector as well.

How Do You Know You Are Buying an Eco-Friendly Mattress?

This is probably the most important question you can ask during your search for planet-friendly mattresses. The truth is that there is a lot of “greenwashing” (attempts to make products that have few, if any, eco-friendly factors, but that appear environmentally-friendly) in the marketplace today.

It is important to look beneath the façade to find products manufactured by eco-conscious companies that are truly good for the planet.

This authentication often comes in the form of independent certifying agencies that serve as watchdogs for the planet. Each agency has its own standards, but goes to great lengths to verify that products meet their rigorous requirements. Among the top certifying agencies for mattresses are the following:

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
OEKO-Tex Standard 100
GreenGuard Gold
USDA Organic
Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS)

Each one of these organizations looks for different earth-friendly features when reviewing products. Products carrying multiple certifications from different agencies have gone through thorough vetting processes, and shown incredible transparency with these agencies, indicating that they have nothing to hide.

In essence, if you are looking for an eco-friendly, family-friendly mattress type, look for mattresses that have one or more of the certifications listed above.

CertiPUR-US Certified Mattresses

CertiPUR-US certified mattresses are given their certifications by a non-profit company. Companies who receive these certifications create foam mattresses that have no ozone depleters, PDDEs, TDCPP, or TCEP flame retardants, mercury, lead, or other heavy metals, formaldehyde, phthalates, or high levels of VOCs.

GOTS Certified Organic Cotton

GOTS certified organic cotton mattresses use cotton fibers that follow strict, standardized guidelines. These mattresses must contain a minimum organic fiber content, include limited chemical inputs, have a low environmental impact, and be made under fair labor conditions.

You can identify GOTS-certified organic cotton mattresses by their verified labeling.

OEKO-Tex Certified Mattresses

OEKO-Tex certified mattresses are manufactured without harmful chemical substances. As with other certifications on this list, for an item to be OEKO-Tex certified, it must pass testing that ensures no component is harmful.

Mattresses that are OEKO-Tex certified STANDARD 100 go through stricter testing than national and international regulation requires.

GreenGuard Gold Certified

GreenGuard Gold Certified products produce low VOC emissions. There is very little regulation from the EPA regarding how much VOCs household products can emit, so people often breathe in dozens, if not hundreds, of VOC emissions indoors daily.

GreenGuard Gold certified products go through strict review beginning at their manufacturing process, and are tested frequently to ensure VOC emissions stay low.

USDA Organic

The USDA has its own set of guidelines regarding organic cotton, but regulations are not very strict. The USDA and FTC only require that for a textile to be advertised as organic cotton, it must be manufactured with USDA-certified organic cotton crops. There is no real regulation beyond that regarding what chemicals are added.

The Global Organic Textile Standard is a much better standard when purchasing mattresses made with organic cotton.

Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS)

The GOLS is the nationally recognized standard for items manufactured from natural latex. To be a true natural organic latex mattress, a mattress must only include natural latex and other approved organic products.

Why Do Mattress Companies Greenwash Products?

The unfortunate side of living in a society that is more focused on sustainability is that some companies try to cut corners, and appear more environmentally friendly without doing the work.

When mattress companies greenwash their products, they claim to have green mattresses without having the certifications to back up those claims. These mattress companies are essentially attempting to deceive consumers into purchasing products that are not actually good for the environment.

This is why it is so important to know how to tell the difference between a truly green mattress and a fake green mattress.

How to Spot Greenwashing

Mattress brands can claim they produce organic mattresses, but without proof, there is little to be confident about. When searching for truly environmentally-conscious mattress brands, follow these tips to spot greenwashing, and avoid falling for it.

  • Check if claims are backed up by sources.
  • Watch out for intentionally vague claims.
  • Double-check for certifications (some companies lie about, or exaggerate their certifications).

You do not want to become cynical when it comes to choosing mattress brands to patronize. You just want to be diligent to ensure your purchases are helping the environment, and keeping your family safe from harmful chemicals.

What Types of Mattresses Are Eco-Friendly?

As mentioned above, not all mattresses are created equally. Mattress materials are varied, and some are far more eco-friendly than others. If you are in the market for an eco-friendly or organic mattress, consider a green mattress type that is non-toxic, and lacks harmful chemicals.

Below are a few types of green mattresses that you can feel good about purchasing.

  • Organic latex mattress types
  • Organic cotton mattress types
  • Organic cotton and wool mattress types
  • Organic cotton, natural wool, natural latex mattress types
  • Certified memory foam mattress types
  • Hybrid certified memory foam and organic latex mattress types

Some of these materials might surprise you, since they do not all come from nature. However, due to the certifications listed above, many non-organic fabrics and materials can be environmentally friendly when they are manufactured with health and sustainability in mind.

Organic Latex Mattresses

Organic latex is made from the sap of rubber trees, so it is entirely natural. However, if you are in the market for a natural latex mattress, you should be aware that not all latex mattresses are natural or organic.

The sap is harvested from rubber trees, whipped into a foamy froth, poured into molds, and baked. That is how organic latex rubber is made. Clearly, natural latex mattresses are truly green mattresses.

There are two types of natural latex, and organic latex mattresses can be made from either: natural Talalay latex and natural Dunlop latex.

Talalay Latex

Talalay latex is poured and molded in multiple steps for a signature bouncy organic mattress.

Dunlop Latex

Dunlop latex is poured and molded all at once for a signature springy organic mattress.

There is not much difference between how the two mattresses feel. If you want a natural latex mattress, Talalay latex or Dunlop latex would work for you.

Synthetic latex mattresses are manufactured to mimic natural latex mattresses, but they are man-made with potentially harmful materials. Where organic latex mattresses are non-toxic, synthetic latex mattresses degrade quickly, and go through an off-gassing process, which is unpleasant, and can be dangerous for those around.

Many latex mattresses on the market are not 100 percent natural latex mattresses. There are several that are blends or synthetic. So, if you are looking for a green mattress, be sure you find a truly natural latex mattress.

Organic Latex Mattresses and the Rainforest Alliance

The Rainforest Alliance works to protect the world’s forests. Since natural latex rubber is harvested from the sap of a rubber tree, it is important that those trees and the forests in which they reside are cared for and respected.

Additionally, all kinds of industries use latex rubber. Rubber is used for far more than organic latex mattresses. So, some manufacturers are pushing to deforest other types of forests in favor of planting rubber trees for latex production. The Rainforest Alliance works to protect natural forests from harmful deforestation.

When shopping for an organic latex mattress, ensure the company is environmentally conscious, and responsible with its latex harvesting. Buying natural latex mattresses is sustainable, but organic latex mattresses should not be sold at the expense of natural forests.

Organic Cotton Mattresses

Cotton is another material used to make organic mattresses. Cotton organic mattresses are breathable, and allow for plenty of airflow, offering sleepers a comfortable surface to sleep on without overheating.

Often, cotton is mixed with wool or other materials for an organic mattress blend. Wool fibers can act as natural flame retardants, so safe, organic mattresses can be manufactured without harmful chemicals.

Are Memory Foam Mattresses Safe for the Environment?

Memory foam mattresses have all kinds of materials in them. The best way to determine whether a memory foam mattress is safe is to check out its certifications. If the memory foam used is certified by the aforementioned certifying organizations, you can rest assured that the foam used has low VOC emissions, and will not cause you or your family harm.

However, memory foam mattresses are made from polyurethane, and will undergo off-gassing when you take them out of the box. It is impossible to find entirely organic memory foam mattresses because their material does not exist in nature.

You can find more eco-friendly memory foam options by searching for companies that manufacture mattresses with low VOC emissions and added chemicals. There are several mattress companies that offer memory foam mattresses with GreenGuard, Certi-PUR US, OEKO-Tex, and more certifications.

Eco Terra Mattresses Are Eco-Friendly Mattresses

Made with 100 percent natural, OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified natural Talalay latex foam, GOTS certified organic wool, and GOTS certified organic cotton, the Eco Terra hybrid natural latex mattress is made from eco-friendly materials you can feel good about having in your home.

Not only are Eco Terra mattresses made with natural, responsibly sourced ingredients, but they are also made without harmful chemicals and VOCs, chemical adhesives, dangerous fire retardants, or polyurethane.

Beyond that, the Eco Terra natural latex mattress is hand-crafted in California, rather than made on foreign soil, and then shipped to the U.S. They are made from botanical latex, tapped from Hevea Brasiliensis trees, which grow quickly and abundantly.

If you are looking to purchase a natural latex mattress, or simply a green mattress that you can feel confident about, then the Eco Terra Hybrid Latex Mattress is the mattress for you.

Patrick Gunther

Patrick is an accomplished writer. He has been in the retail mattress space for the past 13 years, and more specifically in the natural mattress niche. He blogs on the subjects of natural mattresses, sleep, health, fitness, and green living.