Modern mattresses are filled with nasty environmental toxins, and since you’ll spend a third of your life on yours, it can be a little disconcerting. Plus, every year thousands of mattress are tossed into landfills, where they leach their hazardous chemicals into the earth, water, and air. No more! Here are 3 ways mattresses contribute to personal and environmental toxicity.
Off-gassing. Mattresses contain a slew of nasty, nasty chemical which act as fire retardants — mandated by law. Chemicals like antimony (similar to arsenic and causes respiratory problems), PCDEs (a highly toxic fire retardant found in pre-2004 mattresses), boric acid (a pesticide that causes skin irritation), formaldehyde, and other toxic chemicals may lurk in the plush comfort of your mattress. Apparently, there are over 80 different chemicals in the foam of the popular Tempur-Pedic mattress, including the carcinogens formaldehyde, benzene, and acetone. These chemicals do not just stay put, encased in foam or cotton. They leach out in small quantities, effectively surrounding you with a low-dose poison. As your body is most vulnerable to chemicals during sleep, volatile organic compounds are probably things you’d like to avoid.
Petroleum. Our world is dependent on oil, and mattresses are no exception. The polyurethane foam in memory foam mattresses is derived from petroleum, which only encourages our addiction to oil reliance. Need I say more?
Shipping. There is so much waste in the modern shipping process. Mattresses are manufactured, shipped to a warehouse, shipped to a middle-man dealer, and then shipped to your home. That seems like a lot of extraneous travel for one mattress. With a mattress’s bulky size and weight, few can be transported at a time, meaning those big trucks have to make numerous trips back and forth, back and forth, hauling mattresses. Those emissions aren’t so good for the planet either.
Suffice to say, the traditional mattress industry is extremely unsustainable and cost ineffective for the consumer. And the chemicals are a nightmare, but not everyone can afford a natural latex mattress with wool covering, which is probably the safest option. So what do you do? There are quite a few start-ups popping up that are trying to change the game, so it’s becoming easier to find a company that is both eco-minded as well as health-minded…
My Mattress Journey
I recently endeavoured on a search for an affordable, yet more environmentally-friendly mattress. But I was having a lot of difficulty finding a good mattress that wasn’t outrageously expensive. There are plenty of lovely $3,000 mattresses out there, but as I still have to feed myself, that was out of the question. So I set out to find the healthiest, most eco-friendly mattress I could potentially afford.
Look for CertiPur Certification. As a small bit of advice, the one thing you want to be sure to look for is the CertiPur seal on any foam mattress. The CertiPur seal ensures that the foam has been rigorously tested and is free of heavy metals, formaldehyde, CPSC prohibited phthalates, PBDE flame retardants, ozone depleters, and emits low VOCs once inside your home (.5 parts per million). A CertiPur certification should be essential for any foam mattress you buy if you care about bedroom toxicity and volatile organic compounds.
With that in mind, I discovered an awesome company, Keetsa. It was my solution to my mattress woes.
They sell eco-friendly mattresses that are actually affordable, are CertiPur certified, and are working to reduce their reliance on petroleum. Their memory foam uses Bio-foam — derived from castor bean oil — which replaces 12% of the petroleum used in traditional polyurethane. It may not sound like much, but every little bit helps. Currently, the company is working on increasing that percentage while still maintaining the integrity of the mattress. Needless to say, it’s a significantly less toxic (and more comfortable) mattress than the TempurPedic I had been sleeping on.
What I found truly fantastic is the company’s eco-mindedness. Keetsa has developed an innovative vacuum-sealing system that rolls your mattress into a box small enough to fit in the trunk or back seat of your car. When all is said and done, they’ve cut the traditional mattress shipping volume by 75%! Instead of bulky, inefficient loads, Keetsa can ship these mattresses-in-a-box to you for free through Fed-Ex, straight from the manufacturing warehouse to your front door. The mattresses are also designed to be used without box springs, which means 50% less material, weight, and waste. They’ve cut out the middle-men and extra bulk, and work directly with the consumer to keep the costs low. So you get a higher quality mattress for less money. (Oh, and did I mention that they are super comfy?)
If more companies would employ similar techniques, it would greatly reduce the huge carbon footprint of the mattress industry. It’s up to you, as the consumer, to choose wiser companies. As for my decision, sure, you can nitpick and point out that they are still using petroleum and shipping in plastic and (recycled) cardboard, but Keetsa is making less toxic, greener mattresses more affordable to the masses, which is an incredibly good thing. Made with organic unbleached cotton, less petroleum, very low VOC emissions, recycled steel, recycled base foam, and sustainable shipping techniques, Keetsa is paving the way for a smarter, healthier future for you and the planet. Perhaps more companies will follow suit, and the mattress industry on the whole will become less toxic.
Have you had any success finding non-toxic mattresses? Share your experiences in the comments.
Remember, sleep is important, so do your research and invest in health. And when you’re done, please recycle. No one likes seeing decrepit mattresses lying on the side of the road.