Most of Our Mattresses are Slowly Killing Us.

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I searched for months for the best non-toxic, eco, affordable mattress.

This spring, after sleeping on a hand-me-down IKEA mattress for five years, I finally decided it was time to treat myself to a new mattress.

This would be the first new mattress of my adult life, and I knew it would likely be the single biggest purchase of my entire year.

So I wanted to make sure to get it right: I had a somewhat tight budget, about $1,200 to 1,500 for a queen-sized bed, but that’s still a considerable chunk for me and I wanted to use that money to support an ethical, small company.

And most importantly, I wanted my new mattress to be non-toxic.

Wait, non-toxic?

Yes, that’s right. Most traditional mattresses—the places where we spend a third of our lives and six to eight hours of hard-earned, immune-boosting, absorbent rest—are made using harmful chemicals and heavy metals including petrochemicals, formaldehyde, phthalates, mercury, lead, glues, and flame retardants.

Synthetic latex (anything not marked as 100 percent all-natural or marked as a “latex blend”) can contain styrene, a known carcinogen. Even though you may only smell irritating odors from a mattress for the first few days or week, these products will continue to off-gas for years and will actually get worse over time as the foams and glues begin to degrade.

Finding a non-toxic mattress is especially important if you are pregnant or have small children, who spend even more of their time sleeping and are even more vulnerable to heavy metals and endocrine disruptors than adults.

While a non-toxic mattress was super important to me, it was also super confusing. I turned first to Google, poring through blog posts and reviews and identifying a few of the best brands.

Because I live in New York City, many eco brands have local showrooms that I was able to visit. I found most of these in-store brands I found to either be insanely uncomfortable or way out of my price range, but I do list a few of my favorites below.

In the last few years, dozens of online-only mattress companies have changed the industry. There’s a host of young mattress companies that have drastically lowered their price point by cutting out the storefront and sales reps from the equation—meaning that there are so many new non-toxic mattress options that will not break your bank.

The downside, though, is that it’s really hard to commit to a mattress without ever testing it out in person. All of these companies offer 30-100 day free return policies, but returned mattresses are often not re-used or recycled.

So, if you decide to go with one of these online-order companies (like I did) it’s important to do your homework, call the company and tell them about your sleep style, weight, and comfort preferences.

Both of my top mattress picks below, Sleep on Latex and Avocado, emphasized that the best way that they had found to cut down on waste was to speak with their customers on the phone before their purchase. And both companies are working to donate a significant portion of their returned mattresses to organizations in need.

Here’s a list of the brands I considered—and the two I ultimately ended up testing out:

Eco-ish—better than most, but beware of greenwashing.

Saatva/Loom & Leaf: Manufactured by the same online-order company, Saatva is an innerspring and memory foam combo mattress, while the Loom & Leaf is an all-foam mattress. Saatva’s springs are made from recycled steel and both companies use organic cotton coverings. Both companies also use a “bio foam”—a polyurethane foam that’s 30 to 40 percent made from corn and soy but 60 to 70 percent petroleum based.

Keetsa: Keetsa uses organic cotton, recycled fiber fill, and hemp materials in some of their mattresses, but their polyurethane foams are only 12 precent bio-based—meaning the remaining 88 percent is made from petroleum.

All three of the above mattresses rely on a “CertiPur-US” certification to prove their memory foams do not off-gas, that they are free of formaldehyde, PBDE flame retardants, mercury, lead, and other heavy metals.

My boyfriend owns a Loom & Leaf and it’s a dream to sleep on, but for my own mattress I wanted to see if I could find something 100 percent non-toxic and with no volatile organic compounds (VOC)—not just low VOC. But if you have an extreme latex allergy and really want a memory foam feel, one of these mattresses could be the one for you.

Out of my Price Range

Saavy Rest: One of the original organic mattress companies, Saavy Rest provides serious comfort and luxury. And it’s made in the USA.

Obasan: All organic materials, hand-crafted in Canada, each Obasan mattress is customized for the person to ensure the perfect comfort level (with options for different firmness on each side of the bed).

Essentia: Essentia uses a layer of patented memory foam made from latex rubber tree sap and essential oils. I visited their showroom in New York City and found their foams much lighter and spongier than some of the other latex-based foam mattresses I’ve tried. A great option for anyone looking for something on the softer end.

Now, for my top two picks…click here.

 

 

Author: Merete Mueller
Image: Wikimedia
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

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Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

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Susie Keck Jul 4, 2017 2:36pm

Best review EVER on mattresses! Merete you slept on a 100% natural latex bed in May...14 years old made by a company in Lebonon, MO called Justice. We bought a new one for our kingsize bed a year and a half ago. Most comfortable, durable mattress for both of us in our lifetime. Never breaks down. I just checked with the company so I could send you a link. I was so dissapointed to find out that they ceased manufacturing latex beds because of the price and competition from synthetic latex manufacturers. It was expensive but holds up miraculously. I wish there had been more widespread publicity on the value of chosing latex (if not allergic of course). Awesome report Merete!

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Merete Mueller

Merete Mueller is a writer and filmmaker, and was once-upon-a-time the Managing Editor of elephant journal’s print incarnation, from 2006-2008. Today, you can find her on Twitter @meretemueller and on her blog To The Bones. Her first documentary, “TINY: A Story About Living Small,” about people who have downsized their lives into homes the size of a parking space, premiered at SXSW in March 2013. Connect with her on Twitter or on her website.