To Your Health

A Greener Sleep

Most mattresses contain chemicals which you inhale every night.

A Greener Sleep
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You’ve probably been sleeping on the same (chemical-filled) mattress for years, and never given it much thought, as long as you were able to get your zzz’s. But consider this: If you’re over 35, you’ve spent more than 100,000 hours sleeping on a mattress, and are likely to double that amount in your lifetime.  You say you haven’t noticed any health ramifications and would like a good reason to justify spending money on a mattress that is ‘green.’

Ryan North, co-owner of Moss Envy Eco-Home and Life Store, located in Minneapolis, offers one: “Fifty years ago asbestos was used in construction materials. Today, the law requires that specialists in protective gear remove that same asbestos. Fifty years from now, what will we be saying about the synthetic chemicals in mattresses?”

Here’s some information to help you to make a safe sleeping choice:

* Beware of phrases, like “eco-friendly” and “natural” in advertisements and labels on mattresses.

* The only organically certified substances in the United States in mattresses are wool, cotton and latex.

* Look for labels on mattresses from third party certifiers having no association with the manufacturer.

Manufacturers like Essentia, Lifekind and CozyPure, and specialty retail stores such as Moss/Envy and The Clean Bedroom with five locations throughout the United States make or sell organically certified mattresses. These companies are committed to educating consumers about a quality mattress and have gone the extra mile to ensure they make or carry products with third party certifications.

Cheryl Hahn of CozyPure in Norfolk, Va. is one such ‘ecoprenaur.’ She operates the only renewable energy organic mattress manufacturing facility in the U.S. and sells through her website and factory store. Future plans include a line of latex, cotton and wool mattresses for sale in select stores and hotels. Hahn’s mattresses are naturally hypoallergenic, even for people with contact allergies to latex or wool. She explains that most allergies are a result of the processes used to treat the materials. Although natural latex contains allergen proteins, they get washed out in her manufacturing process. (Not so for conventional latex processing.) Her wool is cleaned without chemicals or toxin- producing agents, and is wrapped in pure organic cotton fabric.

Moss /Envy store carries mattresses from only three manufacturers: Naturopedic, Organic Mattresses Inc., and Savvy Rest, which all carry third party certifications. Co-owner North points out that all mattresses sold in their store are made with certified organic materials like botanical natural latex (which oozes out of the rubber tree in its liquid form), organic wool from sheep raised on organic farms, and organic cotton grown without the use of pesticides and herbicides.  He cautions against ‘covering’ over the problem by simply adding organic bedding or wrapping your existing mattress, in organic materials, maintaining that each time you sit on a mattress contents will still be expelled and inhaled. He gives another reason to make the investment in a green mattress: it will last longer than the synthetics.  A natural latex mattress can last 40 years or more.

If you decide to purchase a green mattress, be sure to look for certifications from organizations such as Oeko-Tex, The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GIE), The Quality Association (QUL), or The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). Their standards ensure that no volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pesticides, health-damaging heavy metals, plastics such as pentachlorophenol (PCPs) or nitrosamines (known carcinogenic chemicals) were used in production of a mattress. 

The Specialty Sleep Association (SSA) is a non-profit advocacy and education organization founded in 1995 by retailers, manufacturers and suppliers of mattresses and bedding. Recently, they introduced the SSA Environmental and Safety Program Seal of Approval Program. This “truth in advertising” campaign is designed to advise consumers about the contents of a mattress. Steps like these go a long way toward raising standards in an industry that has left people scratching their heads over a good night’s sleep.

To your health!