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How to Find a Sustainable Mattress
Lifestyle

How to Find a Sustainable Mattress

Shopping with a Conscious (AKA: the Great Green Bed Hunt of 2019)

Over the past month, I’ve been on an endless journey to find a mattress and bed that aligned with my values.

It all started when I noticed a slight sinkhole in my mattress and realized my bed was also past its prime. You see, I haven’t made any major furniture purchases since I’ve moved into Philly eleven years ago. Instead, I’ve thrifted or received hand-me-down furniture from family. Luckily for me, they have good taste: for example, a chair inherited from my grandfather is well-built and adds character to my living room.

However, it was time to invest in a new bed setup… and my sleep. Since I needed a new mattress, I went from a Full bed to a Queen.

My criteria for a mattress (or most purchases) were as follows:

  1. Sustainable materials
  2. Ethics
  3. Good quality (AKA would last for a looonnngg time)
  4. …. and didn’t break the bank.

Mission 1: Finding a Green Mattress

My Labor Day weekend primarily consisted of visiting furniture stores with my mom. I rented a Getaround car and we visited a few stores in Delaware so I could ask questions, test a few mattresses and determine what was out there.

Comfortable mattresses averaged around $800. However, as soon as I asked the various department stores about sustainable and/or organic mattresses, the price quickly jumped to $2500 up to $6500. Unfortunately, this quickly crept out of my budget.

The Problem With Conventional (and Podcast…) Mattresses

So why was I hesitant to buy the comfy, well-priced mattresses in the store?

The majority of mattresses on the market contain memory foam, which is made from polyurethane, which “emits volatile organic compounds that can cause respiratory problems and skin irritation”, according to Mother Jones. But beyond the polyurethane, conventional mattresses can emit as many as 61 chemicals, including the carcinogens formaldehyde, benzene, and naphthalene.

What’s that smell when you unpack a memory foam mattress? It’s the chemicals off-gassing, releasing volatile organic compounds into the room. Even after the smell is gone, chemicals can emit VOCs and “off-gas” for years.

Considering we spend 1/3 of our life on our mattress, it’s a pretty significant purchase in our homes. There’s not a direct study about the connection between chemicals in mattresses and health; after all, memory foam mattress models were only recently introduced between 1991 and 2006. But why bother risking it when there are alternatives on the market?

Conventional mattresses can emit as many as 61 chemicals.

What about those “green” foams & other Mattress Seals?

Many of the mattresses on the market now have a CertiPUR-US label, that looks like a green seal. However, it only applies to the polyurethane foam in a mattress and doesn’t cover the other chemicals or materials.

If you’re looking for labels you can trust, the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) and Global Organic Latex Standards (GOLS) are key, according to Consumer Reports.

Another factor: polyurethane and memory foam are made from petroleum chemicals (i.e. fossil fuels), and polyethylene is sometimes too. If you’re shopping with your conscious (and there are alternatives), stay away from fossil fuels.

Choosing a Green Mattress with a Hipster Name

avocado mattress reclaimed wood bed
The winning mattress & (reclaimed wood) bed

Once my in-store search ended, I continued to scour online between reviews, googling components of mattresses and prices. After researching and testing dozens of mattresses, I settled on… (cue drumroll) the Avocado Mattress.

Why this mattress? Let’s check the mattress vs. my above-stated values again.

1. Sustainable materials: It’s made from GOLS organic certified latex, GOTS organic certified wool, GOTS organic certified cotton and up to 1,414 pocketed support coils – and they have a vegan version too. Check in this column.

2. Ethics: Made in the USA, they offset emissions of the production and shipping as a Carbonfree® Partner with Carbonfund. Plus, 1% of company revenues are donated to environmental nonprofits. Check here too.

3. Good quality: I’m assuming the quality is good based on the materials it is made from. Also, there’s a one-year “sleep trial” and a 25-year warranty that adds peace of mind. Check check. Since Avocado was recently rated as the best mattress on Consumer Reports, it took out some of the guessings.

4. Price: At $1400, it’s a fraction of the cost of those organic mattresses in stores.

If you’re in the market and want to find out more about Avocado, here’s more about the mattress:**

After starting this search over a month ago, my mattress finally was delivered last week. So now, I can officially share that I’m happy with my mattress. I’m also happy to share that I’ve had many restful, comfortable nights sleep – on top of my new, sustainable made bed made from reclaimed wood.

For those who are curious, FLOOF really likes it too.

**Note: This is not a paid post by Avocado. However, there are affiliate links to get $150 off a mattress, which means I get a kickback if you purchase one, as a common feature on websites. It’s a way for you to show your appreciation for our work on Green Philly.


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Julie Hancher
Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher

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