Green Mattress Options - Eco-Friendly Sleeping

May 8, 2011 View all articles in Home

To help reduce your use of petrochemical-based, nonrenewable resources, encourage your support of sustainable industries, and move you to combat global warming, Chasing Green is going to the mattresses. There are ways for you to wage a full-on war against greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental hazards without exposing yourself to chemical fabric treatments, pesticides, artificial colors and dyes, and toxic flame retardants, however. Keep reading to find out some of the earth and health risks associated with polyurethane foam mattresses, and to discover how you can be eco-friendly while you sleep!

Over thirty million mattresses are produced each year in the US alone. Most are filled with polyurethane foam and other manmade, nonrenewable materials that have been treated with flame retardants and stain- and wrinkle-resistant chemicals. These polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) can pollute the air inside your home, and can even make you sick. In fact, studies indicate women in the United States have higher levels of PBDEs in their bodies than any other nationality in the world. Some mattresses are also treated with water and stain repellents such as Teflon, the same nonstick coating on your pans that has been known to leach perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) into the environment and people. In addition to polyurethane foam, a number of mattresses also contain conventionally-grown cotton, which includes large amounts of synthetic chemicals, pesticides, dyes, fertilizers, and fixers.

So while you're dreaming away for an average of almost seven hours a night, your mattress is offgassing volatile organic compounds. That means you're inhaling and absorbing your mattress's chemical contents, which have many detrimental health effects, ranging from headaches to serious allergic reactions. Synthetic materials also have poor air circulation and trap moisture, so dust mites and microbial growth are often more prevalent.

Environmentally preferable choices are made of varying combinations of natural latex, organic cotton, and organic wool.


Natural Latex: Sap collected from rubber trees in Indonesia and Malaysia is whipped together to make latex foam. The sap can be collected for up to a year and a half and the tree heals within an hour each time, making natural latex a genuinely renewable resource. Natural latex is also denser than innersprings, as well as body-conforming.

Organic Cotton: Organic cotton is grown and processed without insecticides, herbicides, or fungicides. It also combats global warming through carbon sequestration (the process by which carbon dioxide is captured from the atmosphere and incorporated into soil, ocean, and plant matter) and by using 37 percent fewer fossil fuels than conventional farming. If you want to purchase an organic cotton mattress that isn't treated with chemicals, you may need to first obtain a written note from your doctor that says you have chemical sensitivities and require a chemical-free mattress.

Organic Wool: Unlike conventional wool production, which uses pesticides on pastures and chemicals in the feed, organic wool is produced without hormones or pesticides. Pure wool is also naturally fire resistant, breathable, and moisture regulating. So not only do pure wool mattresses not require fire retardant chemicals, their moisture-wicking quality also makes them less susceptible to dust mites.

Find alternative, eco-friendly mattresses made from natural latex, organic cotton, and organic wool at the following retailer sites:

The Organic Mattress Store (

Abundant Earth (

EcoBedroom (

A Happy Planet (

Lifekind (

Natural Sleep (


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