Within the eco-mattress sector, the focus is on naturally-occurring materials and alternatives that have less ecological and chemical impact than traditional beds.
Conventionally-grown cotton is recognized as one of the dirtiest crops in the world, accounting for 25% of ALL insecticides and 10% of all pesticides used, according to the Organic Trade Assocation. Since these chemicals could wind up in trace amounts in the finished products, organic cotton has become a focal point of many eco-friendly and green beds.
Wool is another darling of the green industry. It is a natural fiber produced by sheep, can be harvested humanely, can be certified organic, and is said to be both moisture wicking and resistant to common allergens like dust mites. It is often seen in mattress padding layers or in fire barrier wrappings.
Latex foam made from natural latex rubber has been popular with the eco-friendly crowd for decades. Recently, it has become more widespread and also more affordable. Natural latex can mean anywhere from 30%-100% natural latex content however, so there is some variation here. Blended latex (with styrene butadiene rubber) contains some natural content making more eco-friendly than synthetic products, but not everyone considers this “green”.
Quite recently, the international Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) was established for certifying latex foam organic and this newer organic latex can be found in a few select brands. Organic latex foam must use organically-grown latex liquid and contain at least 95% organic raw ingredients. It also must be certified by a recognized agency. Right now, it appears that only Dunlop latex foams have met this standard.
Plant-based foams are another trending material. These foams use a percentage of plant-based oils to replace petroleum products, resulting in a product that is more environmentally friendly than traditional polyurethane and memory foams. Some manufacturers also take care to remove VOC-producing ingredients and chemicals that concern people in traditional foams. Plant-based foams have the advantage of being very affordable compared to latex.
Other Plant Materials
Other plant-based materials are also on the rise in mattresses. A few brands use fibers from coconuts or other plants in padding layers instead of foams, and fabrics like bamboo-derived rayon, natural silk, and even horse hair can be found in mattresses.