How To Cut Through The Jargon & Greenwashing To Find A Truly Safe & Eco-Friendly Mattress
What Makes A Mattress Truly Safe?
Greenwashing occurs when a company advertises their products as “organic, natural or eco-friendly,” when they really are not. It is deceptive advertising and marketing practices, designed to mislead and convince consumers to buy their products.
The mattress industry is no exception when it come to greenwashing. Through our research of the industry, we’ve found many companies find it easier to use deceptive wording in their advertising campaigns, to convince consumers that their mattresses are “organic, natural or eco-friendly,” instead of actually producing safe and healthy mattresses.
In attempt to answer some of our questions about how to find a healthy mattress, we’ve partnered with PlushBeds, a pioneer in the sustainable mattress industry to discuss what materials and certifications actually matter when it comes to buying a healthy mattress.
A Look Behind The Scenes: What Makes A Healthy Mattress
WITH MICHAEL HUGHES, FOUNDER AND CEO OF PLUSHBEDS
We had the opportunity to chat with Michael Hughes, the founder and CEO of PlushBeds, to learn more about the certifications and natural ingredients that go into making a safe mattress for consumers.
1.) What are the most important factors a consumer should look for when wanting to buy a safe and healthy mattress?
As a consumer, it’s important to pay close attention to the materials used, in each layer of your mattress and to look for third party certifications for these materials. Do your due diligence research so that you get what you believe you’ve purchased, especially if you are looking for a mattress made with organic or natural materials.
Third party certifications are issued by approved, independent organizations after they have inspected the raw material and/or final product and they have independently determined that it complies with specific standards for safety, quality and performance.
At PlushBeds, we believe that educating our customers and providing full and complete transparency is important. We also take great pride in providing the best quality organic and natural mattresses which are not only outrageously comfortable, but which are truly healthy to sleep on.
2.) How can consumers best avoid greenwashing when looking for a safe alternative to the typical mattress?
It’s important to know the difference between “organic,” “natural,” “eco-friendly” and “green” materials in your mattress, so that you can shop with confidence and find a truly healthy option.
· “Organic” Mattress Materials:
If you are looking for a latex mattress that is made with truly organic and healthy materials, it must have the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) third-party certifications.
The GOLS certification applies to organic latex and the GOTS certification applies to the organic cotton cover. These rigorous, globally recognized, third-party verified standards define and ensure that the materials and products live up to the organic definition.
GOLS and GOTS certify the entire production chain, from the USDA certified organic raw materials to the manufacturing of the final certified product. The organic materials are tracked throughout the distribution and manufacturing process, to ensure their purity.
GOLS and GOTS certifications also cover fair trade and labor practices and the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes along the way. If organic farming and pure, organic materials and production methods are important to you for health, environmental, social, or personal reasons, then look for the GOLS and GOTS organic certifications for your mattress.
Some “organic” mattresses only contain a GOTS certified organic cotton cover, but inside of the cover are blended or synthetic latex layers, chemical filled polyurethane foam layers, chemical filled adhesives to glue the layers together and/or chemical flame retardants? Organic cotton used in a mattress cover may sound great, but it is important to look at all of the materials used, in each layer, inside of that cover, as well as all third-party certifications for these materials.
Several online retailers boast “GOTS” or “GOLS” certified, but do not have the true certifications to support their claims? If you can’t find the certification published on their website, be sure to ask them for a copy before making any purchasing decisions.
A latex mattress that has both GOLS and GOTS certifications is truly the healthiest and safest latex mattress you can buy, so always look for these certifications in your latex mattress.
The materials that make up the PlushBeds Botanical Bliss Mattress have both the GOLS and GOTS certifications. They are true organic standards that you can trust.
Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) certified organic latex is latex that has been processed using only organically-grown, milky-white latex sap tapped from the rubber tree, grown without chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides and grown using one or more sustainable energy sources. PlushBeds mattress covers are made with organic cotton and organic wool that is GOTS certified. GOTS is recognized as the world’s leading processing standard for textiles made from organic fibers. It defines high-level environmental criteria, along the entire organic textiles supply chain and requires compliance with social criteria as well.
· “Natural” Mattress Materials:
When you think of the word “natural,” you think of something that is pure, healthy and chemical free. This is not always the case in the mattress industry, where the word “natural” is used recklessly.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which enforces consumer protection laws, doesn’t define “natural” with regard to mattresses, so a mattress that’s advertised as “natural” could contain almost anything, including polyurethane foam, adhesives, chemical flame retardants, etc.
Some “natural” mattresses only contain a small percentage of “natural” material but the rest of the mattress contains chemical filled polyurethane foam layers, chemical filled adhesives to glue the layers together and/or chemical flame retardants.
Certain types of “natural latex” are a mix of natural latex, made from rubber tree sap and blended or synthetic latex, made from petrochemicals, mixed together. If there is natural latex in your mattress and the latex is not GOLS certified organic latex, then it is most likely either Oeko-Tex certified or Eco-Institut certified.
In general, Oeko-Tex and Eco-Institut are safety testing certifications that test for harmful substances and VOCs, in certain materials used to make the mattress.
CertiPUR is another testing standard that tests for harmful substances and VOC’s, in certain materials used to make the mattress, but is used for polyurethane and memory foam materials.
Oeko-Tex, Eco-Institut and CertiPUR certifications do not cover organic farming and production methods, fair trade and labor practices, and they do not cover the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes along the way, like GOLS and GOTS. They also do not test the complete mattress for harmful substances and VOCs, like the GreenGuard Gold certification.
· “Eco-Friendly” or “Green” Mattress Materials:
Similar to “natural” mattress materials, there are “eco-friendly” or “green” mattress materials, which are also used recklessly. The FTC doesn’t define “eco-friendly” or “green” with regard to mattresses, so a mattress that’s advertised as “eco-friendly” or “green” could contain ingredients that are not healthy for you.
Did you know that “soy foam” (or eco-foam, soy-based foam, plant-based foam, green foam, etc.) is advertised as “eco-friendly” or “green,” even though it’s basically petrochemical-based polyurethane foam, typically made by pouring in a very small percentage of plant-based essential oils (as one manufacturer phrased it, “just enough to say it’s in there”). Also, most contain dangerous chemicals such as polyurethane foam, adhesives, chemical flame retardants, petroleum, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, formaldehyde, polyols, toluene diisocyanates etc.
All of these chemicals are suspected to cause central nervous system damage, cancer, kidney damage, liver damage, developmental problems, neurological deficits, heart disease, hormonal changes, reduced fertility, and many other issues.
Researching all of the materials used, in each layer of your mattress and all third-party certifications is the only way to know exactly what you’re getting, and not become a victim of “greenwashing.”
3.) In your perspective, are chemicals in mattresses actually harmful to consumers?
Absolutely. When you think of the fact that the average person spends one third of their lifetime sleeping on their mattress, and that dangerous chemicals (VOCs) are used in the manufacturing process of most mattresses, it’s a terrible combination.
Have you ever noticed the strong odor that a new memory foam mattress has? This strong odor is due to the offgassing of chemicals in the mattress. The VOCs disperse into the air in your home, which you breathe in, through outgassing, and they can end up inside of your body.
When you detect these chemical smells, be aware that they could be a source of potential harm. Many chemicals found in mattresses today are suspected to cause central nervous system damage, cancer, kidney damage, liver damage, developmental problems, neurological deficits, heart disease, hormonal changes, reduced fertility, and many other issues.
Organic and natural mattresses are becoming more and more popular as everyone becomes more aware of the mattress manufacturing process and seeks to live healthier lifestyles. At PlushBeds, we have done extensive research and uses the healthiest and best quality organic and natural materials, so that our mattresses are not only comfortable, but truly healthy to sleep on.