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What is an Eco-Friendly Mattress?

AD| Living more sustainably means changing the products you’d typically buy, especially those made from non-recyclable materials like PVC and materials that have high carbon…

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AD| Living more sustainably means changing the products you’d typically buy, especially those made from non-recyclable materials like PVC and materials that have high carbon emissions, like PVC, iron and steel.

The good news is alternative products don’t have to come with compromises, and a great example of this is an eco-friendly mattress. This article reveals everything you need to know.

Let’s jump in!

What is an eco-friendly mattress?

An eco-friendly mattress has lower emissions over its lifecycle than a normal mattress, which can be achieved in a few ways:

  • Recyclable materials
  • Natural, replenishable materials
  • No chemicals
  • Local manufacturing (smaller supply chain reduces transport emissions)

All mattresses have emissions attached to them (there is no mattress without the energy used to make it). However, an eco-friendly mattress has fewer emissions, so buying one is a great way to reduce your environmental footprint.

But how do you know if a mattress is eco-friendly?

How to choose an eco-friendly mattress 

The problem most people have with “eco-friendly” products is that “eco-friendliness” is unquantifiable. What does “eco-friendly” mean? To what extent are the emissions lower? Is the product green, or is it just a marketing ploy?

It is easy to tell if eco-friendly mattresses are more eco-friendly than regular mattresses by the filling type. Certain fillings have lower emissions, so this is the simplest way to determine how eco-friendly a mattress is. 

Here’s a rundown of the main eco-friendly fillings (we have bolded the best):

  • Bamboo: The most eco-friendly material. Naturally replenishable and recyclable, bamboo is a carbon sink, producing 30% more oxygen than fir trees.
  • Organic cotton: Cotton’s most prominent environmental impact is from pesticides, so organic cotton (which is free from pesticides) is eco-friendly.
  • Wool: Sheep’s wool is the most common. While wool has farming emissions, it is local, naturally replenishable and recyclable.
  • Mohair: Like sheep’s wool, mohair isn’t particularly eco-friendly. The environmental impacts are huge, despite it being a natural material.
  • Latex: Latex is derived from the rubber tree. Unfortunately, it is a natural allergen, so hypoallergenic mattresses don’t use it.

So, bamboo, cotton, and wool are the most eco-friendly materials when it comes to natural mattress fillings. The rest, less so.

However, most eco-friendly mattresses use a combination of fillings, such as wool and mohair and bamboo and cotton. Still, it’s rare for eco-friendly mattresses to use both animal and plant-based fillings.

In terms of synthetic materials, these are fine so long as they are recyclable. Polypropylene, polyester and other polymers are recyclable.

Locality 

For us, the most important aspect of an eco-friendly mattress is where the materials come from and where the mattress is made.

Mattresses made in the UK that use materials from the UK have a significantly smaller carbon footprint than mattresses made in and shipped from other countries. The smaller the supply chain, the smaller the carbon footprint!

You can make sure the mattress you buy has fewer carbon emissions by choosing a mattress made in the UK using materials from the UK.

Recyclability 

An eco-friendly mattress should be at least 90% recyclable. Otherwise, what’s the point? The best eco-friendly mattresses are up to 99% recyclable.

A typical mattress has the following layers:

  • Outer cover, e.g., damask
  • Comfort layers, e.g., wool
  • Springs, memory foam, or both
  • Support layers, e.g., polyester foam

Recyclability should be designed into an eco-friendly mattress. It isn’t enough for the mattress to just be made from recyclable materials; the mattress also has to be easy to take apart and process for recycling facilities.

Bamboo, cotton, wool, mohair and latex are all recyclable.

In terms of support systems, memory foam is recyclable, as is low-density foam. Springs are made from steel, which has high carbon emissions but is fully recyclable.

In terms of mattress fabrics, the best option for eco-friendly mattresses is Damask from cotton or linen, which is soft and breathable. Damask from cotton and linen is recyclable so it can be made into other products at the end of its life.

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