You probably understand the benefit of organic foods, which are grown without a substantial amount of pesticides or herbicides which might affect the environment or your own health. However, you likely have heard of other organic items for sale of late, like organic clothing, organic skincare products or organic furniture.
Organic mattresses have recently taken the world by storm, attracting plenty of attention for their ability to provide a healthier night’s sleep. However, you are probably wondering: Are organic mattresses worth the extra price? Why would a mattress made with organic materials matter all that much?
Traditional Mattresses Contain Strange Materials
Mattresses are a common household item, and as is true of most household items, you probably haven’t put much thought into the materials that compose your traditional mattress. Unfortunately, this might mean that you have been spending years sleeping on or near materials that you otherwise would stay far away from.
A prime example of this is polyurethane foam, more often referred to as memory foam. Developed by NASA in the 1960s to improve the safety and comfort of seats used in space shuttles, memory foam has since become much more affordable to manufacture and thus appears almost everywhere, especially in mattresses. Many people love polyurethane mattresses for their distinctive ability to cradle the body without triggering pressure points, which can drastically improve sleep quality.
However, polyurethane foam is a petroleum product. In addition to polluting the environment during the manufacturing process, polyurethane can continue to emit toxic gases for years, radically reducing the quality of indoor air. In particular, memory foam is noted for its high off-gassing of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which can cause minor eye or throat irritation but can also result in lasting damage to the respiratory system or nervous system.
Unfortunately, avoiding memory foam mattresses doesn’t necessarily allow you to avoid the problem of off-gassing and VOCs. The most common mattress type, innerspring mattresses, usually combine a large number of materials, to include polyurethane foam and other petroleum products like synthetic fabrics and fills, which help add cushioning to the metal coils and enhance comfort for sleepers. Alone, many of these materials do not emit dangerous levels of VOCs, but when combined into a single product, these materials can cause health problems in sleepers.
Additionally, many national governments require mattress manufacturers to produce mattresses that are resistant to fire. As a result, many mattress manufacturers spray in toxic flame retardants, which further contribute to diminished air quality around the mattress. Not all flame retardants have this issue, but those used in inexpensive, non-organic mattresses almost always do.
Some traditional mattress manufacturers are transparent regarding the processes they use to create their products, but most aren’t exactly clear regarding the potential health effects their mattresses can have on sleepers. Thus, if you are sensitive to VOCs, allergens or low air quality, you might want to look for an alternative to traditional mattress materials.
Organic Mattresses Are Healthier for You and the Environment
A green mattress boasts a number of benefits that many people find advantageous within their lifestyle. For instance, organic mattresses are:
- Sustainable, made from materials that do not require abundant resources to cultivate
- Biodegradable, will not require tens of thousands of years to degrade in landfills
- Hypoallergenic, do not contain widely known allergenic compounds
- Non-toxic, use non-synthetic or otherwise non-dangerous chemicals as fire barriers, adhesives and more
It is important to note that different green mattresses are made with different materials. Some organic mattresses are innerspring mattresses that use organic fabrics, like cotton and wool, to replace synthetic cushioning. Other organic mattresses use natural latex as a replacement for polyurethane foam. Usually, organic mattress producers are a bit more transparent regarding the materials within their products, so you can find more information about individual mattress options on brand websites.
As is true of all manufacturing processes, the creation of organic mattresses is not entirely without waste or destruction. Just like organic food, organic mattresses are sometimes made with low levels of pesticides or other chemicals, but manufacturers take pains to make their products as natural and safe as possible — which is directly in contrast to traditional mattress manufacturers, who often prioritize cost, instead.
To some, organic mattresses are definitely worth the slightly higher cost because they offer major advantages in health and wellness, not just for individual sleepers but for the Earth as a whole. If you believe you would benefit from a green mattress, you should absolutely invest in one today.