Best Organic Mattress (Eco friendly)

Best Eco-Friendly Mattresses

Would you prefer an eco-friendly mattress? Did you give up on owning an eco-friendly mattress after you saw the price? Or did your search for an eco-friendly mattress leave you empty-handed? Fortunately, eco-friendly mattresses are easier to find and more affordable than ever.

Many people think of their bed as a safe haven, a refuge from the cares of the world. We feel safe and protected when we are in bed, but the truth is that many beds contain chemicals that can harm us or the environment. I don’t want to scare you. In many cases, the potential harm is to vulnerable individuals more than to healthy people.

We want you to be aware of what might be in your mattress so you can make informed decisions. Especially because there are healthy alternatives and we want people to have the information they need to make healthy choices.

We looked at almost fifty mattresses that are advertised as being eco-friendly to create our recommendations. Following the review of those mattresses, you’ll find additional information in our Eco-Friendly Mattress Buyer’s Guide including the types of materials used in mattresses, which ones are known safe, probably safe, and may be problematic along with a lot of other information you’ll find useful when choosing a safe mattress for your family.

12 Best Eco-Friendly Mattresses

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, our review focuses on three key features:

  • Environmental friendliness
  • How healthy the mattress is for the sleeper
  • Is it non-toxic?
  • Are all the ingredients disclosed?
  • What method is used to meet fire safety standards?
  • Whether the organization gives back to the Earth, humankind, or their communities

Information relative to other features, benefits, or drawbacks of each mattress can be found in our detailed reviews or on the manufacturer’s website. In the table below, Sleep Guarantees include free return shipping unless otherwise indicated.

We are confident that each mattress on our list is one of the healthiest mattresses you could choose based on the absence of potential toxins and the eco-friendliness of its ingredients.

BrandOrganicMaterialsWarrantySleep GuaranteeFire Retardant
AvocadoWool and CottonLatex, Wool, Cotton, and spring coils25-year full 1st 10; pro-rated years 11 – 25100-nightsSafe Hydrated Silica
Avocado VeganCottonLatex, Cotton, and spring coils25-year full 1st 10; pro-rated years 11 – 25100- nightsFlame resistant plant fibers and hydrated silica
AWARALatex (grown), and CottonLatex, Wool, Cotton, and steel coilsLifetime365-nightSafe Hydrated Silica
PlushBeds – Natural Bliss (Vegan)LatexLatex, plant fibers, and cotton25-year100-nightPlant fibers and hydrated silica
PlushBeds – Luxury BlissLatexHybrid latex with spring coils, latex, and Joma Wool25-year100-nightWool
PlushBeds – Botanical Bliss

 

Latex, cotton, and woolLatex and Wool25-year100-nightWool
Plush Beds -RV MattressCustom Latex can be orderedYour choice25-year100-nightWool; maybe plant fibers
Sleep on LatexCotton and WoolLatex, cotton, and wool10-year100-nightNo chemicals; undisclosed
EssentiaVariesVariesVaries by mattress120-night

(9% return shipping fee)

No Chemicals; undisclosed
NaturepedicVaries

Includes a Vegan Option

VariesVaries by mattress30- 120 night

Varies by product

You pay to ship

 

No Chemicals; undisclosed
Sweet ZZZNoLatex, Wool, and CottonLifetime100-nightWool
ZenhavenCotton, Latex (grown), and WoolCotton, Latex, and Wool20-year120-nightWool

Avocado Green by Legget & Platt

Avocado makes two mattresses that made our eco-friendly and healthy list; one is vegan. The first one is a hybrid latex mattress that is available with 3-inches or 5-inches of latex combined with zoned 8-inches of spring coils.

Avocado supports two charities. Carbon Fund focuses on the health of the planet by allowing them to offset emissions they cannot eliminate from their manufacturing process and Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP), which is a science-based advocacy organization focused on eliminating exposure to radiation and toxic chemicals.

  • Eco-friendly
  • All healthy ingredients
  • All ingredients disclosed
  • Give back program

Avocado Vegan by Leggett & Platt

Vegans finally have a mattress choice they will feel good about. The Avocado Vegan mattress is made just for vegans without any animal products. It is built vegans who don’t want any animal products in their mattress. In place of wool, they use cotton in the Avocado Vegan mattress®. Otherwise, the mattress is the same as the Avocado Green.

  • Eco-friendly
  • All healthy ingredients
  • All ingredients disclosed
  • Give back program

AWARA

AWARA is an eco-friendly hybrid latex mattress made with 100% natural Dunlop latex, 100% organic cotton, wool, and a 9” zoned spring coil system. GOLS-Certified Dunlop latex and organic cotton make this an affordable hybrid eco-friendly option. We really like this mattress because it uses wool and cotton to meet the fire-retardant standards. Organic cotton and latex are healthy materials. The mattress’s 5-zone comfort coils are designed to make the mattress comfortable for side, back, and stomach sleepers.

With a lifetime warranty and a 365-night sleep trial, AWARA allows you to try the mattress at no risk, which is very appropriate in a mattress that doesn’t put your family at risk from chemical fire retardants.

AWARA gives back by donating to Climate Partner.

If AWARA sounds interesting, read our full review.

  • Eco-friendly
  • All healthy ingredients
  • All ingredients disclosed
  • Give back program

PlushBeds – Natural Bliss (Vegan)

PlushBeds offers three mattress styles that made our eco-friendly list plus an RV mattress that doesn’t quite make it but is an interesting option. The Natural Bliss is 100% all-natural latex that is Wool-free.

To meet fire safety standards, flame resistant plant fibers are used; no toxic chemicals are used.

There is a cotton cover over two inches of buoyant Talalay Latex resting on six inches of Dunlop latex to provide a support level. Supporting all of it is an orthopedic foundation made from chemical-free spruce wood. The total height is 8-inches of eco-friendly latex comfort.

  • Eco-friendly
  • All healthy ingredients
  • All ingredients disclosed
  • Give back program

PlushBeds – Luxury Bliss

Luxury Bliss is a combination of natural latex and innerspring coils that uses Joma wool as a natural fire barrier. Because the wool has a high keratin protein and moisture content, no chemicals are needed to meet fire safety standards.

The springs and latex provide bounce.

  • Eco-friendly
  • All healthy ingredients
  • All ingredients disclosed
  • Give back program

PlushBeds – Botanical Bliss

Choose between three thicknesses and two firmness options to create an organic latex and wool mattress you can customize to suit your preferences because it has adjustable firmness levels and the ability to split the comfort level for each side if your sleeping partner enjoys a different level of firmness. This is our top choice for couples who need different firmness levels in a safe, eco-friendly mattress.  The price is high but when you consider the 25-year guarantee on a mattress that should last that long, the cost per day ends up being very affordable.

  • Eco-friendly
  • All healthy ingredients
  • All ingredients disclosed
  • Give back program

PlushBeds MobilePlush Eco Green 8” RV Mattress

This mattress is mentioned even though it doesn’t meet our criteria because CertiPUR-US Plushfoam is used with the natural latex, however, PlushBeds may be willing to make a completely natural eco-friendly RV mattress for you. You can contact them at 1-888-Plushbeds. The cover is 100% organic cotton.

Plushbeds ticks all the eco-friendly and healthy boxes you could desire. They also give back through a $1,000 scholarship program to students who are pursuing a green major.

You can read more about PlushBeds in our Best Mattresses for Couples article or go directly to the PlushBeds website to learn more or order.

  • Eco-friendly
  • All healthy ingredients
  • All ingredients disclosed
  • Give back program

Sleep on Latex

Sleep on Latex offers one of the more affordable latex mattresses in two styles including a low-profile version. Their impressive certifications include OEKO-Tex, eco-Institut, and GOTS certified organic cotton and organic wool.  They use Dunlop latex but import the wool from New Zealand.

Our full review of typical mattress features provides more information about this mattress if you’re looking for an eco-friendly mattress for a smaller budget.

  • Eco-friendly
  • All healthy ingredients
  • All ingredients disclosed
  • Give back program

Essentia Mattress

Essentia offers a wide assortment of mattresses including a memory foam eco-friendly mattress. They seem very committed to creating healthy, eco-friendly products. Essentia had the production process for their memory foam mattress tested by worker safety officials who determined that making the mattress did not pose a risk to the employees’ health and they were not required to wear safety gear during the production process because the product posed no risk to their health.

They also make latex mattresses for baby’s crib.

However, we can’t give them credit for disclosing all the ingredients. Although they disclose no toxic chemicals are used as a fire retardant, they don’t tell us how they meet fire safety standards. They do offer to provide additional information upon request.

You can find more information Canadian made Essentia mattresses in our Best Luxury Mattresses review.

  • Eco-friendly
  • All healthy ingredients
  • All ingredients disclosed
  • Give back program

Naturepedic

Naturepedic is an active member of the green community with memberships in many organizations that are working to create healthier homes and a sustainable planet. They generously donate to organizations that share this mission. They provide an assortment of eco-friendly and healthy mattresses that vary from 100% latex, vegan, hybrid versions with encased coils, and latex free eco-friendly mattresses. Naturepedic is a mission-focused company that wants you to have a healthy mattress that doesn’t harm the environment.

Naturepedic creates healthy mattresses for the entire family, including mattresses for your baby’s crib.

  • Eco-friendly
  • All healthy ingredients
  • All ingredients disclosed
  • Give back program

Sweet ZZZ

As a member of 1% For The Planet, Sweet ZZZ gives back environmentally. Additionally, to improve human health, they give to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), the highest rated charity supporting research to cure and prevent breast cancer. They also contribute to a local food bank.

All Sweet ZZZ’s mattresses are OKEO-Tex certified as class 1 which meets the requirements for crib mattresses which are stricter than the requirements for adult mattresses. If you plan to co-sleep with an infant, you want the healthiest possible environment for yourself, this certification ensures you’ll have it. Sweet ZZZ is a healthy eco-friendly, non-toxic mattress.

Order their mattress directly from the Sweet ZZZ website.

  • Eco-friendly
  • All healthy ingredients
  • All ingredients disclosed
  • Give back program

Zenhaven

Zenhaven offers their organic mattress in two firmness levels, each has a 5-zone system that makes it more comfortable for every sleeping position. The mattress is Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified.

Zenhaven is a leading supporter of SFC—the Sustainable Furnishings Council that is working to improve the health and ecological impact of furniture and the manufacturing processes used to build them. Their latex is grown organically but they do not claim it is organic because of a small amount of non-organic materials added during the process used to create Talalay latex. Zenhaven is an eco-friendly, non-toxic mattress.

Our full review provides additional information on other aspects of the Zenhaven mattress.

  • Eco-friendly
  • All healthy ingredients
  • All ingredients disclosed
  • Give back program

Healthy, Eco-Friendly Mattress Recommendations

Healthy Mattress Recommendations

Zenhaven and Sweet ZZZ are OKEO-TEX® Standard 100, Class 1 certified which makes them our top picks for a healthy eco-friendly mattress for the whole family. Mattress certifications are stricter for infants and toddlers. These two mattresses meet that safety level which means that co-sleeping with your infant or toddler, or story time cuddled up in your bed doesn’t expose your child to toxic chemicals from your mattress. We recommend them for anyone who is looking for the healthiest possible mattress.

Healthy Mattress RecommendationsHealthiest Choices for the Environment

The entire lifecycle of the product must be considered when deciding which mattresses are eco-friendly and best for the environment. This includes where the materials are sourced and the impact of transportation on the environment as well as what happens after the product’s useful life ends. Although innerspring coils can be recycled, it isn’t often done because many mattresses contain ingredients that are not healthy which makes pulling the springs out of a mattress unhealthy for humans. With eco-friendly mattresses, this won’t be a problem although it requires effort to separate the parts for recycling at the end of the mattresses’ useful life. For example, Sleep on Latex and PlushBeds Botanical Bliss check all the ingredient boxes, but they import their wool from New Zealand which adds transportation impacts to the environments. Latex mattresses last much longer, several decades can be expected if they are taken care of and they are biodegradable, but latex must be imported because the rubber trees won’t grow in our climate.

PlushBeds Botanical Bliss split version is our top choice because it is flexible. If you need a firmer or softer mattress, you can rearrange the latex to change the firmness level. This means the mattress can continue meeting your needs across time. The split version also allows you to change the firmness level on one side of the mattress which is important in an eco-friendly mattress that will outlast many marriages.

Choices for Vegans

If you’ve been searching for a vegan mattress, you can rest easy because we’ve identified two excellent choices: Avocado Vegan and Natural Bliss. You know how difficult it can be to find a mattress that meets your strict criteria. Both mattresses use plant fibers and safe hydrated silica as a fire retardant. Avocado Vegan is a hybrid latex mattress that combines organic latex with the zoned support of innerspring coils. This is the most budget-friendly of the two. Natural Bliss contains several layers of latex which makes it pricier than the Avocado Vegan. If you want more bounce or have a tighter budget, go with Avocado Vegan.

RV Choices

Plushbeds will custom make an eco-friendly RV mattress to suit your needs including a vegan RV mattress which is extremely difficult to find.

Crib Mattresses

When you put your baby in the crib, you’re trusting that they will be safe there. Essentia and Naturepedic provide healthy, eco-friendly crib mattresses. We recommend the lower priced Naturpedic because the most important factor in a crib mattress is your baby’s health and safety. A crib mattress doesn’t need to be built to last for decades. We just don’t see any reason to pay more than twice as much for a mattress that isn’t any safer or healthier than Naturepedic’s crib mattress.

Crib MattressesEco-Friendly Buying Guide

When it comes to eco-friendly mattresses, we think it is important to think about both the environmental impact on our beautiful planet and the impact on indoor air pollution in your home and to your health. We cover these factors in the buying guide, separating the scare tactics from scientific evidence to help you make a knowledgeable and savvy decision about which mattresses you want to trust with your health and the health of the planet.

The safety of your mattress is at least as important for your long-term health as the safety features in your car.

Eco-Friendly Buying GuideThe rules for adult mattresses aren’t as restrictive as those for crib mattresses. If your children cuddle with you in your bed or you co-sleep with an infant, you want to be sure your bed is safe for your child.

Because part of being a good steward of the environment is giving back, we will also look at whether the mattresses we recommend give back to the environment or other charities.

Our reviews will focus on three aspects: eco-friendliness, health friendliness, and give back programs. Detailed reviews that go into other aspects of the mattresses are elsewhere on our site.

The number of organic, eco-conscious, health-conscious, and vegan mattresses on the market has improved significantly. Unlike most mattress stores, online mattress retailers provide detailed information about the ingredients used in their mattresses.

Terms

One of the first things to know is that the government hasn’t mandated specific definitions for all the terms you might run into in your search for a healthy eco-friendly mattress. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published Green Guidelines in an attempt to define and eliminate deceptive advertising relating to green and eco-friendly advertising claims.

TermsThe FTC Green Guidelines state that a claim that a product is non-toxic implies that the product, package, or service is non-toxic both for humans and for the environment generally.

What is Organic?

Many people may know that the USDA certifies organic foods. What they may not know is that the organic certification standards do not apply to non-food items yet.

The lack of specific regulations for organic labeling for non-food products means that you have to trust the manufacturer and the non-governmental certifying organizations. You can find details about the certifying organizations elsewhere on our site.

Organic products should be free of chemicals, pesticide residue, and not harm the environment. Ideally, the production of organic products will be good for the environment.

What is OrganicProducts can be labeled with different degrees of organic including certain parts that are organic, such as the cotton used in the cover for a mattress, 100% organic which means at least 95% organic, or a more generic “organic” label that could mean a lot of different things and unless its meaning is disclosed, tells you very little.

What is Eco-friendly?

Eco-friendly refers to products that are Earth-friendly because they do not harm the environment. The term is not well-defined and could refer to a product that has less impact on the environment than comparable products.

What is Eco-friendly?Because the term is not legally defined, having just one aspect that is better than similar products could be enough for the marketing team to use this term. Those benefits can be to the air, water, or land, or involve using less energy and water during production or delivery.

Eco-friendly covers the entire lifespan of a product including seeds that are not genetically engineered or treated with fungicide to the use of packaging materials that are eco-friendly and biodegradable. The product itself, such as a latex mattress, should also be biodegradable or recyclable.

Eco-friendly can be part of the process, such as a latex mattress being biodegradable, even if the latex didn’t meet the definition for being produced organically.

ButterflyAlthough Earth-friendly is generally healthier for the Earth’s inhabitants, it doesn’t refer specifically to being healthy for humans who come in contact with the product.

You could say Eco-friendly means the impact on the environment is reduced.

Products that are generally eco-friendly include latex, bio-foam, soy-foam, and natural fibers used as fire retardants. Thistle, wool, polylactic acid (PLA), leather, or hydrated silica can be used to create a fire sock or barrier for mattresses that don’t have adverse health effects. They can also use tight weaves and blends of fibers to improve its resistance to fire.

Eco-friendly does not mean that the product doesn’t create a carbon footprint at all, that it is recycled or recyclable, that it is healthy for humans, that it is biodegradable, or that the shipping process has the lowest possible impact on the environment. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t contribute to indoor or outdoor air pollution, or that it is made from renewable resources.

Because the term is not legally defined, it is often used when a product reduces these impacts, sometimes as little as a 10% reduction in one area. Eco-friendly is good but it doesn’t mean its perfect.

What is Green?

Green refers primarily to the product’s impact on the environment. Many people perceive green products as healthier for humans and in the long run, environmentally speaking, they are. But green doesn’t encompass all aspects of human health. You could have a green mattress that provides awful support for the body and doesn’t allow you to relax as you sleep, thereby damaging your own health. The environment is important, but your own health should be of as much concern to you.

What is GreenGreen loosely refers to products that are eco-friendly. The term is not legally defined so it really means anything the manufacturer or marketing department believes they can get away with making it mean. By itself, labeling a product green doesn’t provide any assurance that the product is environmentally safe or healthy for humans.

What is Healthy?

Healthy generally means that it won’t harm you. In some cases, it means it will improve your health. It’s not easy to define something as healthy because a mattress can be both healthy and potentially unhealthy. A mattress that helps you sleep better is healthy in that respect. If it also contains a flame retardant that poses a potential risk to your health, it has the potential to be unhealthy for you in that respect.

This is a complex issue. The only way to make an informed decision is to understand the potential health benefits as well as the potential risks to your health. Many types of glue, chemicals, and synthetic fabrics can pose health risks and add to indoor air pollution.

Quality of Sleep

Unless a mattress is known to be unhealthy rather than just posing a potential health risk, this is the most important overall aspect of a mattress. The ability to sleep well is critically important because poor quality and inadequate sleep damage physical and mental health much faster than negligible amounts of toxins. Sleep deprivation increases the risk of accidents which can be deadly to you or others.

Quality of SleepThe health effects of inadequate sleep are significant. Read more about the effects

of sleep deprivation.

How are Mattress Manufacturers “Going Green”?

The old way was ecologically innocent because manufacturers and consumers didn’t know that the materials they used could harm people or the environment. We are no longer environmentally innocent.

Consumers are demanding the right response from manufacturers, voting with their pocketbooks, and their blog articles. Manufacturers are responding by creating products that use more natural, organic, and safe materials.

Charitable (Giving Back)

One way many mattress manufacturers are upping their green game is by giving back to communities and supporting ecologically friendly non-profit organizations.

elephant eco friendly mattressMaintaining the Health of Your Mattress

In addition to buying a healthy mattress, there are things you can do to maintain the health of your mattress. The entire outer layer of your skin sheds every 2 – 4 weeks. We shed tens of thousands of cells every hour.

In the circle of life, our dead skin cells become food for dust mites who can inhabit our mattress and dine on our shed skin cells. That all sounds very symbiotic until you realize that the mites defecate in our mattresses. They also reproduce rapidly. That’s where the symbiotic relationship ends because the fecal material from dust mites can cause health problems in humans.

Vacuuming your mattress regularly and, if the cover is removable, washing it, will help minimize the dust mites living in your bed.

A full mattress encasement cover that can be removed and washed will protect your mattress from spills, mites, and bed bugs. Healthy mattress encasements help you keep your mattress fresh and are affordable enough to replace if they become too worn. You want to be sure the mattress encasement doesn’t contain phthalates or other unhealthy ingredients. I prefer ones made from bamboo.

Pay careful attention to how mattresses you consider purchasing are described. Mattress manufacturers may use wording designed to increase your comfort such as “this mattress meets or exceeds all the standards of Federal and State fire regulations.” That statement can lead an uninformed buyer to feel reassured about the safety of the mattress because they don’t know they should ask what method the manufacturer used to satisfy the fire safety requirements. Many mattresses use chemical flame retardants with unknown potential health implications to humans. Others use plant-based fibers or wool, which are safe for humans.

Do Some Mattresses Contain Unhealthy Materials?

Most mattresses are probably healthy enough for most people. We provide background information for individuals who want a deeper understanding of chemicals that may be used in a new mattress. Old mattresses may contain chemicals that are now banned.

Mattress ingredients fall into three general categories:

  • Do not pose a risk to the sleeper (may be an eco-friendly, non-toxic mattress)
  • Are probably safe for the sleeper
  • Pose a potential health risk to the sleeper

sheep eco friendly mattressUnknown Risks

For mattresses used with newly invented substances, the best we can do is tell you that no one knows for sure.

This is how it works. A mattress designer develops a mattress that has no known unhealthy materials. The key here is “No known.” If they’ve developed a new material, there is no way to know the health implications associated with the mattress. Generally, it has taken about twenty years for banned mattress materials to be banned after they were introduced. Unless and until the material is proven to be a health hazard, they can use it in their products.

How is it proven that the materials are hazardous? People get sick. Sometimes people become very ill.

Now, new materials are created for use in mattresses all the time. You can choose to avoid all of them, or you can choose to accept a very minimal risk by paying attention to the ingredients and processes used when they are developed and avoiding those that are more likely to become problematic. There are reliable, safe and healthy options if you want to avoid unproven ingredients.

  • Pesticides can be on cotton, wool, or other natural materials if they are not grown organically.

cotton in eco friendly mattressWhich Types of Mattresses have Known but Low Risks?

Mattresses can contain volatile organic compounds and toxic flame retardants. The risks to adults are considered minimal.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advises us that the health effects from exposure to VOCs can include:

  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Headaches, loss of coordination, and nausea
  • Damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system
  • Some organics can cause cancer in animals, some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.

However, serious effects can occur soon after exposure. For example, Mercedes Lackey, a New York Times best-selling author had to be hospitalized as the result of indoor air pollution after she stayed in a newly renovated hotel room. Common symptoms that can occur quickly include:

  • Eye and respiratory tract irritation
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • visual disorders and memory impairment

If the hotel had purchased an eco-friendly mattress, there would have been less environmental pollution. Additional information is available on the EPA’s website. Most scents and smells indicate the presence of VOCs.

Plant-based memory foam contains less petroleum, but the amount of plant-based material may not be disclosed by the mattress manufacturer. Watch for language that indicates how much petroleum was replaced with plant-based oils. Generally, less petroleum will mean less off-gassing and less heat retention. Replacing 10% of the petroleum with plant-based materials makes a mattress more eco-friendly that a mattress made with only petroleum but it doesn’t mean the mattress should be called eco-friendly. It is only eco-friendly in comparison to worse option but not when compared to latex.

Generally, the more off-gassing there is, the more VOCs there are. Whether the specific VOCs are potentially harmful is unknown.

Toxic Flame Retardants

One of the main problems is created by federal regulations that are at cross purposes with the use of dangerous chemicals. Those are the fire safety standards imposed on mattress manufacturers. The manufacturers add potentially toxic ingredients to their mattresses to satisfy fire safety regulations. Chemicals cost less than more natural methods of increasing fire safety such as wool, hydrated silica, and thistle fire barriers.

Toxic Flame Retardants aren't in eco friendly mattress Pesticides

We may feel safe from toxins designed to ward off or kill tiny life forms like dust mites, but we should remember that our bodies are systems composed of tiny parts. Each of our cells is a living biological organism that can be affected by toxins. If enough of our cells become damaged, our health can suffer.

Types of Mattresses

In general, compared to natural latex mattresses, polyurethane, viscoelastic polyurethane, and polyethylene foam will not last as long. So, in addition to not being as eco-friendly because they are made with a nonrenewable resource and emit more VOCs, they contribute more to landfills.

Polyethylene foam

Polyethylene foam may be healthier than Polyurethane foam. Check the ingredients to know for sure.

Polyurethane foam

Polyurethane foams are made with petroleum chemicals that emit VOCs.  Some certifications certify that VOC emissions are low.

Memory foam (Viscoelastic polyurethane)

Memory foam is essentially polyurethane foam with added chemicals to make it conform.  Look for certifications to ensure VOC emissions are low.

VOCs from memory foam can cause breathing issues or irritate the skin. The mattresses are not biodegradable. Essentia offers an eco-friendly memory foam but it is expensive.

Plant-based foam

The amount of plant oil varies significantly. Products with only 10% plant oils and 90% petroleum have been seen marked eco-friendly. Look for certifications related to VOC emissions.

An eco-friendly alternative is a natural latex.

Plant-based foam eco friendly mattressNatural Latex

Latex is made from the sap of rubber trees (Hevea Brasiliensis). It is natural and when it is not combined with other materials, it is considered healthy. Natural latex resists mold and dust mites naturally. It is antimicrobial without added chemicals.

Latex is the most common eco-friendly mattress material. The sap is a renewable resource whose production has a positive impact on the environment.

Latex mattresses can last two decades or longer.

Natural Latex eco friendly mattressSynthetic latex

Some manufacturers add synthetics to the latex to save money. Synthetic latex can emit VOCs like a polyurethane mattress.

Innerspring

Innerspring mattresses have a system of metal springs or coils inside the mattress and a relatively thin layer of padding between the sleeper and the top of the mattress. The springs can be made from recycled materials.

Hybrid Mattresses

Hybrid mattresses are a combination of two or more mattress types.

  • Latex and foam
  • Latex and innerspring coils
  • Memory foam and latex
  • Memory foam and innerspring coils
  • Coconut fiber and latex

To understand the health and environmental impact of an eco-friendly hybrid mattress, look at the parts individually. The difference between a hybrid with coils and an innerspring is the thickness of the padding between the coils and the sleeper. Hybrids generally have three or more inches of another type of mattress between the coils and the sleeper.

Which Types of Mattresses are Safe vs. Unsafe?

Foams, synthetic fibers, and innerspring may not be biodegradable, manufacturing processes can adversely affect the environment, and some have a larger carbon footprint from the shipping process.

Beds that are shipped once, from manufacturer to the consumer won’t have as large of a transportation carbon footprint. This aspect varies significantly and companies whose mattresses aren’t marketed as eco-friendly rarely share these details.

Are Any Mattresses Known to be Safe?

eco friendly mattress Natural Latex

Natural Latex

Natural latex is a proven eco-friendly and healthy mattress material.

However, if a pure latex mattress was manufactured with chemical fire retardants, it would move to a potentially unhealthy and no longer be in the eco-friendly mattress category. It is important to pay attention to each material used in the production of the mattress.

Coconut husk fibers

There is a mattress made with a combination of coconut husk fibers and latex that looks interesting. I haven’t slept on it and the price is high, so I can’t comment on how it sleeps or performs.

CoconutOrganic bamboo

A friend mentioned organic bamboo as a healthy alternative, but the only bamboo mattresses I was able to identify were combined with memory foam which takes them out of the eco-friendly and moves them into the same category as memory foam as far as whether or not they are healthy. They may be healthy, but I wouldn’t feel right making a blanket statement about the level of healthiness they provide.

Organic bamboo eco friendly mattressWhich Mattresses are Probably Safe but too New to Know?

First, I want to clarify that natural does not always equate to healthy. Opioids are natural but they wreak havoc on lives every day. Arsenic and mercury are also natural but deadly as are hemlock and Oleanders.

That being said, memory foam created using plant-based ingredients is probably healthier than petroleum-based memory foam. Manufacturers are experimenting with a wide variety of ingredients, especially ingredients we associate with good health, such as green tea. The ability to find an eco-friendly, non-toxic mattress to fit your budget is growing easier all the time.

Are there Factors that Make Finding a Safe Mattress More Confusing?

Greenwashing

Greenwashing is the process of implying that a mattress is more eco-friendly than it is. Since consumers want greener products, companies want consumers to perceive their products as being as eco-friendly and safe as possible.

Greenwashing eco friendly mattressHow Can We Be Sure a Mattress is Safe?

Understand the Certifications

You can get a good idea of how safe a mattress is by looking at its certifications. We explain many of the certifications used in the industry on our post dedicated to describing these details. A certification can refer to a part of the mattress, so it is important to understand what each certification guarantees. We’ve seen quite a few mattress reviews that add to the confusion by asserting that a specific certification implies something that isn’t included in the certification. It requires caution to understand each certification but for a mattress that you may spend 30,000 – 60,000 hours sleeping on, it makes sense to take time to understand what you’re buying.

Understand the Certifications eco friendly mattressOnce in a while, something goes wrong. Some cog in the system of checks and balances doesn’t work and a usually good mattress can be bad. Consumers have reported, for example, receiving a mattress that was moldy. Under the wrong conditions, moisture could get into a new mattress that isn’t antimicrobial and cause it to mold.

When your new mattress arrives, if it smells off, it probably is off. Completely organic mattresses (latex, cotton, and wool) won’t off-gas. This is one of the advantages of eco-friendly mattresses. Manufacturers of bio-foams say their mattresses don’t off-gas either. If it smells musty, there’s probably something wrong.

How to make a Mattress Safer?

Cover it with a full mattress encasement

Encasing your mattress in a full mattress encasement can protect you and your mattress. I encourage you to spend a little bit to buy a mattress protector.

Let it breathe before you sleep on it.

Don’t plan to sleep on your new mattress immediately. Even with a latex mattress without fire retardants, I let the mattress air out a day or two before putting the mattress encasement on it, which always goes on before we sleep on a new mattress.

If you suspect your mattress or furniture contains toxic chemicals, you can participate in a research trial Duke University is conducting. Send them a sample of the foam and they will test it for you. Use protective gear when you obtain the sample of foam (guard your eyes, ears, nose, and skin) and cover any rips or tears in the upholstery.

Clean

Clean the cover and vacuum your mattress periodically to reduce dust mites and their waste products.water eco friendly mattressGet a Prescription

The fire safety law allows mattress manufacturers to custom make a mattress without chemical or other fire retardants if you have a prescription from your doctor.

How to Decide Between Budget, Health, and the Environment

First, you won’t want to put your health at risk. That immediately eliminates any mattress where:

  • The manufacturer doesn’t disclose all the ingredients.
  • Mattresses that advertise no toxic chemicals or no chemicals but do not name all the ingredients are okay if they follow the law.
  • Includes materials known to be toxic or likely to be toxic.
  • Doesn’t contain Phthalates.
  • Look for transparency. If the company doesn’t provide the information you need, you can ask them for it or move on to a different manufacturer who provides more transparency. Eco-friendly mattress manufacturers are proud to share the ingredients in their mattresses.

Our intention is not to frighten you away from other types of mattresses. None of the non-latex mattresses use chemicals that will harm you quickly unless you are especially susceptible to their effects. The government does ban specific chemicals once they are proven harmful. But there are small risks associated with VOCs, chemical fire retardants, adhesives, and with newly developed chemical-based mattresses because their effect on human health may be unknown. We want you to be able to make an informed decision.

An eco-friendly, non-toxic mattress is always a good choice.

See our recommendations if you want to save time evaluating all the possible choices.

Additional Reading:

For information on Phthalates

For information on eco-friendly Mattress Certifications

For information about specific chemicals and fire retardants

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