Mattress purchase can be a confusing and overwhelming process nowadays, with mattresses of a wide variety readily available both online and in stores. While all mattress companies vouch for their quality and durability, not all beds are created equal.
To convince mattress shoppers of their promises of high quality, most mattress companies sell beds with certifications from third parties who support the quality and longevity of the mattress.
Most certifications are provided as acronyms or a series of capital letters that reveals a lot about the mattress company, the kind of material they use, their labor practices, and the sustainability of the beds.
While comfort and support are some factors that would influence your mattress purchase, you would want to sleep on a bed free from harmful toxins that allow you to sleep with a clear conscience that the mattress is made without harming the environment.
Certifications help make you aware of the kind of materials, whether natural or chemical, used in building the mattress. It also highlights the processing method, and whether the mattress is made using eco-friendly practices that benefit the environment.
Here are some reasons why mattress certifications are essential.
Most foam mattresses are built with synthetic foam containing hazardous chemicals like flame retardants, phthalates, and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Such chemicals can cause off-gassing, releasing toxic fumes into the atmosphere, causing respiratory problems and other health issues.
Synthetic mattress materials can also emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They are chemicals slowly leaking out of your synthetic foam mattresses, causing health problems.
Many mattresses use toxic chemicals as flame retardants in bed. Chemicals used as flame retardants can be highly toxic to your brain, hormone system, and organs like the liver, causing many health issues.
The chemicals in the mattress can also affect the environment, causing a release of harmful greenhouse gases that can deplete the ozone layer, and cause soil and water pollution in the long run, harming the planet.
GOTS certification is one standard that requires manufacturers to follow labor practices that meet ILO (International Labor Organization) requirements regarding working minimum hours, and paying minimum hourly wages.
As more people are looking for sustainable and natural mattresses, many manufacturers are using labels like "natural", "green", and "organic" to sell their beds, even when the mattresses fall short of such descriptions.
The process of selling chemically-induced beds as organic or sustainable is called greenwashing. Looking at third party certifications can help you avoid getting fooled by such misleading descriptions, and get the sustainable mattresses you deserve.
Mattress certifications are provided to ensure that safe and non-toxic materials are used in building the mattress, and that the production practices follow ethical standards, and preserve the environment.
Cheaper mattresses that use synthetic materials as their primary component often release toxic gasses, or Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) after being unboxed for use. VOCs can pose health hazards, and are especially challenging for sensitive people who suffer from allergies, asthma, and other respiratory disorders.
GreenGuard certifications are issued by Sustainable Furnishings Council, and certify whether a mattress emits a low level of pollutants. GreenGuard has two levels of certifications - GreenGuard and GreenGuard Gold.
While both GreenGuard and GreenGuard Gold standards certify that the mattress emits a lower level of pollutants that are safe for people, especially sensitive sleepers like children and the elderly, GreenGuard Gold certified products call for even more stringent requirements.
GreenGuard Gold standard has a total limit on VOC emissions that can be safely released into the atmosphere.
CertiPUR US certification tests the synthetic foams in mattresses for toxicity levels. To get the certificate, mattress brands must allow their polyurethane foam mattresses to be tested in the lab for materials like heavy metals, and certain chemical flame retardants. To qualify, the bed must meet the low thresholds for benzene, formaldehyde, and other VOCs.
CertiPUR US certification does not test a product’s organic character. It also does not require polyurethane foam mattress manufacturing companies to maintain ethical and social practices, or follow safe business practices.
The Oeko Tex Standard 100 certifies that the textiles used in the mattress have undergone testing in third-party labs for more than 350 substances, including those that may pose a health risk to the consumers.
The Oeko Tex Standard 100 allows a lower threshold for harmful substances like mercury and formaldehyde to prevent indoor air pollution.
Even more stringent than Oeko Tex certification, the Made in Green label limits the use of harmful chemicals in textiles and other mattress components to make them safe for consumers.
The Made in Green label, in addition to testing the safety of the natural materials, also certifies that the product manufacturing process involves sustainable practices.
Sustainable means that the company has used processes that lower the adverse effect on environmental health, and ensures socially acceptable working conditions for the workers.
Products with Made with Green labels must also confirm the STeP certification offered by Oeko-Tex that certifies sustainability.
No mattress have currently gotten the Made with Green certification for their beds.
Eco Institut is a German laboratory that certifies that the mattress companies using the label use natural materials free from harmful chemicals, like heavy metals, formaldehyde, chlorophenols- a carcinogen, and benzene.
The Eco Institut certified mattresses also follow a limited emission of off-gassing, making them healthier and eco-friendly. Eco Institut's criteria have a lower threshold than what is acceptable in Germany. They are still safe to be considered beneficial for people using such products.
The Made Safe certified non toxic label is given to products tested to not include a list of products harmful to human health, affecting the endocrine system.
If you want to purchase a mattress made from natural ingredients, like latex, that is built in a sustainable manner and free from harmful chemicals, here are some certifications you need to consider.
Natural latex mattresses made from high-quality natural and organic latex often use organic materials like organic latex, organic cotton, and wool in their mattress construction to provide you with a healthy and eco-friendly sleeping experience.
To vouch for the high quality of the organic cotton and wool used in the mattress, most high-end brands, like Eco Terra, use Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified mattress materials in our premium quality hybrid latex mattresses.
GOTS typically applies to the organic cotton and wool fibers used as covering or padding material in a natural latex mattress.
GOTS certifies natural and organic fabrics, like cotton and wool, based on ecological and social criteria. GOTS has two sub certifications -" GOTS Organic" and "GOTS made with organic."
The textile products using GOTS Organic certifications use at least 95% organic fibers. In comparison, those with "GOTS made with organic" certifications use at least 70% organic fibers.
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is also based on the USDA Organic Program. It requires preserving the water quality, wildlife, and natural habitats while producing organic fibers.
The certification also ensures that the mattress packaging material is free from PVC, a common source of phthalates that can cause human health concerns.
Mattress companies using GOTS labels must also follow fair labor practices meeting the minimum age requirement of the workers, and providing employee benefits according to the International Labor Organization (ILO).
The mattress manufacturers receive unannounced inspections where the workers are interviewed, and the HR files are checked to confirm compliance with the standard regulations.
Like GOTS, Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLs) targets the primary mattress component, the organic and natural latex used in a latex mattress. Premium latex mattress manufacturers, like Eco Terra, use the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) to prove the authentic quality of the organic latex used in our beds and 100% natural latex mattress toppers.
Eco Terra uses GOLS-certified Arpico latex in our high-quality natural latex mattress toppers to provide exceptional comfort and support to its users.
GOLS certifications are awarded by the Control Union, an organization that promotes sustainability in production and business. GOLS certification requires the latex bed to be made from more than 95% certified organic latex sap, derived from rubber trees, grown in USDA-certified rubber plantations
GOLS standard also requires mattress manufacturers to follow labor rules regarding fair wages and overtime pay, and other safe labor practices prescribed under the local labor law.
Both GOLS and GOTS certify the authenticity and purity of the organic mattress materials, and make sure that the mattresses are free from phthalates, VOCs, formaldehyde, heavy metals, chemical flame retardants, and polyurethane foam, improving the indoor air quality.
With consumers becoming more aware of the effect of the manufacturing process over climate, mattress manufacturers have become more transparent regarding their production process.
Most manufacturers get certifications highlighting how their mattresses are made following guidelines that preserve environmental health.
Climate Neutral, a non-profit organization, offers the Climate Neutral Certified Label. The organization provides tools that companies use to measure their carbon footprint. Companies with climate neutral certificates must reduce their carbon footprint, and plan to reduce their carbon emissions.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification ensures that the raw materials derived from forests are handled responsibly throughout the entire textile supply chain, preserving the environment.
The label certifies that the manufacturer complied with the social, economic, and environmental standards, while using raw materials derived from forests. It also ensures that the company respects the local communities and habitats, conserves endangered plants and forest resources, and maintains ethical standards, while employing workers in terms of pay and work environment.
The Rainforest Alliance Seal is another standard that measures the company’s ecological and social sustainability. To get the seal, companies must comply with environmental concerns and social issues, like child labor, and promote ethical work practices that abolish workplace violence and harassment issues.
The Cradle to Cradle certification ensures that the products manufactured comply with their specified sustainability and safety standards. To get the label, the companies' products are tested based on five criteria - material reusability, carbon management, social responsibility, material health, water stewardship, and responsible handling of renewable energy.
Some certifications are given based on the ethical business practices followed by the companies.
B-Corps provides a certification process that measures the extent a business follows social and ethical business practices. Before awarding the B-Corp certifications, companies are rigorously tested on their ethical practices, and how their business impacts their employees, customers, and society. The company's impact on the environment is also measured.
Fair Trade certification ensures that businesses take steps to eliminate poverty, while allowing sustainable development of the farmers and workers.
When shopping for a new mattress, you must go for beds that are not only comfortable, supportive and last for a long time, but are also made from materials that improve human health, and are beneficial to the environment.
Companies like Eco Terra make high-quality, sustainable mattresses from naturally sourced GOLS-certified organic latex, and GOTS-certified organic cotton and wool to provide you with luxurious sleep without compromising your health.
Doing a little research on mattresses while shopping will ensure that the bed you want delivers on its promise of being natural and eco-friendly, and can last you a lifetime.