by Michelle Harrison
After the hustle and bustle of the holidays and end of year activities, it is time to take a well-deserved rest. A comfortable mattress is essential to making sure you get a good night’s sleep. The New Year brings “white” sales, but at Green Energy Times, we like to call them “green” sales. Perhaps you are in the market for a new ‘green’ mattress. Green Energy Times interviewed Mike Hassenberg, owner of Natural Mattress Company in Shelburne, Vermont (https://naturalmattressvt.com/), to learn about green mattress and help in your quest for a great, eco-conscious product.
What should be considered when selecting a green mattress?
We sleep about a 1/3 of our lives, so the materials your mattress is made of are important. While we sleep, our immune system recovers and prepares for the day ahead. If your mattress is filled with airborne allergens and chemical toxins, your immune system will battle these rather than repair itself. The certifications that matter most are OkeoTex and Greenguard. OkeoTex certifies that the mattress is free from harmful chemicals. The organization tests consumer products for the presence of a predetermined list of chemicals. Greenguard is a true emissions test that actually measures what is coming out of the product versus what is not in there. Organic certifications include Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) and Global Organic Textile standard (GOTS).
Is there a difference in a natural mattress vs. an organic one?
Yes, a mattress can be made of natural materials but not certified organic by GOLS and GOTS. They set the standards in materials and even the factory. The factory where the mattress is made also has to be certified organic by GOTS.
For those converting from a conventional to a green mattress, will there be a different feel?
An organic or natural mattress should be just as comfortable as any other mattress on the market. You no longer have to compromise comfort to be sleeping on a healthful natural mattress. Mattresses are available that range from firm to very plush. There are even mattresses that are customizable where one side of the mattress can be firmer than the other. Organic mattress makers have more material choices than ever before!
What is the average life of a green mattress? How does that compare with conventional ones?
It seems like the traditional mattress industry got together and decided to make their beds last 8 to 10 years. Things like friction and moisture break down man-made foams and padding. Some natural latex brands offer 20 year warranties, because natural latex is incredibly durable. Natural fibers don’t break down with humidity and friction. They break down with exposure to UV light or weather, as they would with nature. Natural latex beds are also naturally dust mite-resistant, antimicrobial, and have longer life cycles that have been proven through independent testing.
Replacement of a natural mattress typically happens when a comfort change is needed. Options are available to swap out a layer of latex or add a topper to the mattress rather than going through the whole mattress buying experience or cost.
What is the price range compared to conventional mattresses?
They have similar price points. However, if you consider the fact that some brands have a longer lifespan, then you may see some green mattresses are less expensive over the life of the mattress.
What is the biggest factor that you see drives consumers to convert to green mattresses?
Life events, such as the birth of a child, sickness, or renewed commitment to the health and wellness of a family are triggers into the natural mattress industry. A good night’s sleep should not be elusive. When people are struggling with lack of sleep, they begin to research the topic and many times will come across the option of natural or organic, because they become aware that mainstream mattresses have an abundance of chemicals in them such as formaldehyde or fire retardant chemicals sprayed on them. These chemicals can affect our bodies’ hormones which have an impact on the quality of our sleep and overall quality of life. They may also be linked to asthma, allergies, and lung, nose and throat cancers.
What happens to a green mattress at the end of its life?
Conventional mattresses go straight to the landfill. They cannot be broken down properly and take up tons of space. Many contain foams that are made from petroleum- based oil and do not compost well. They create soil and water problems. All natural mattresses can be recycled and are not toxic waste. If a mattress comes from the earth, then it will go back into the earth after its use in the home. The reality about green mattresses is they last longer, and, therefore, you need fewer mattresses in your life.
Explain the use of fire retardants for mattresses.
Natural mattresses are less combustible and need a lower level of flame-resistant (FR) solution. These products are able to pass the federal FR testing with the use of natural solutions such as wool and silica minerals that are infused into organic cotton fabrics. Use of less FR solution is a good thing as it bio-accumulates, is a global contaminant, makes disposal difficult, and has health risks.
So, why not go ahead and get a new mattress and make it an eco-conscious one?