What's Wrong with My Mattress?
Why would someone choose to buy an eco-friendly mattress? Exactly what is a green mattress? There are a variety of mattresses that can be considered a positive force for the earth and the indoor environment. Unlike conventional cotton and polyester-based bedding they are free of chemicals and pollutants. They are also significantly more expensive. The question is, are organic and latex mattresses worth the cost and effort?
A normal, cotton-based mattress is made with cotton, which has been grown with pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Cotton fields are doused in harmful substances — California cotton alone is dusted with 6.9 million pounds every year. Sustainable practices, such as the promotion of biodiversity and the conservation of water, are not used. Buying a conventional mattress brings many of the chemicals and pesticide residues into the home, as well as bleaching agents and other chemicals used during production. These compounds are emitted, and can be released into the air as volatile organic compounds (VOC's).
Mattress filling is then treated with flame-retardants, including polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDE's). PBDE's, which are not only used in bedding, but also in a variety of household products, have been consistently found in human blood and breast milk. After use, they end up in the waste stream, where they find their way into the air, water, and the earth, continuing to contaminate the life cycle. PBDE's are associated with damage to the reproductive system and developmental problems.
Other materials, such as vinyl, polyester, and polyurethane foam, are used to make mattresses. These substances are petroleum-based, highly synthetic products. Buying an eco-friendly mattress provides a clean, safe, chemical-free sleeping environment. Green mattresses are made from organic cotton, organic wool, and latex.