Some manufacturers may claim a “green mattress”, but do those claims hold true when there are no set standards? In some ways they do, but consumers have to understand what those certifications really mean. Knowing how to read and discern which certifications are more important, you can make choices that support you and your family’s health as well as the health of the environment.
What Does “Green” Really Mean?
The term green, when applied to a mattress, doesn’t apply to a defined standard. Along with terms like natural, organic, or all-natural, green could mean that one component of the mattress is biodegradable or it may indicate that the cotton used to make the outer cover of the mattress was grown and harvested without pesticides. Mattresses are made of many components and materials, which makes it difficult to find one that’s entirely green.
Certifications give you a better idea of what’s in the mattress and the environmental footprint left behind, but not all certifications are equal. Try looking for certifications from organizations that focus on environmentally-friendly practices, social responsibility, human health issues. That may mean the mattress has several certifications because some organizations focus on human health issues while others monitor the use of pesticides and chemicals used in the manufacturing process.
A few worth watching for include:
- Eco-Institut: This German accreditation organization tests building products and textiles for harmful emissions and substances. When it comes to mattresses, they mostly monitor the latex industry, which also happens to produce some of the most environmentally-friendly mattresses on the market.
- GreenGuard: If you’re worried about harmful emissions from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), look for a GreenGuard certification.
- OEKO-TEX Standard 100: OEKO-TEX tests textiles for harmful substances and checks all aspects of the materials for potential health threats.
If environmental impact concerns you, look for one or more of these:
- Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): GOTS certification deals with organic fibers both of the raw materials and the completed textiles. They focus on the environment and social sustainability of products while also monitoring human health issues.
- Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS): GOLS works hand in hand with GOTS, but they specifically target latex. Latex can be either biodegradable, as in the case of natural latex, or not, as with synthetic latex made from petroleum products. They make sure that any latex labeled as “natural” meets certain benchmarks.
There are many other certifications used for mattresses. Be sure to research any with which you might be unfamiliar.
Check Certifications and Find the Right Mattress
With an eye out for the right certifications and knowing what they mean, you can find a mattress that’s environmentally or socially friendly. Start by checking the list of materials used to make the mattress. Some materials like foam can be hard to find in any green form because most foams are made using petrochemicals. The steel found in innerspring mattresses goes through industrial processes that also involve chemicals. And, hybrids use elements of both foam and innerspring mattresses. With these types of mattresses, look for elements and components that are eco-friendly rather than an entire mattress.
However, latex mattresses overall have less exposure to chemicals and harmful manufacturing processes. You want to look for a high percentage of natural latex versus synthetic latex. Natural latex comes from a rubber tree, which makes it sustainable and biodegradable. Be aware that many mattresses use both kinds of latex, so look for the highest percentage of natural latex as possible.
With an eye out for the right certifications, you can find a mattress that won’t clog landfills and reduces the impact on future generations.