Of the three most popular types of mattresses available on the market today, which type is the most natural and sustainable? Many people who make an effort to buy sustainable and natural products do not consider these issues when they buy a mattress. Because the materials inside a mattress are hidden from view, most people do not consider them beyond the kind of support the mattress gives them when they lay on it. The truth is that the three types of mattresses are constructed using vastly different materials, and some use natural materials while others do not. Read on to find out which mattress is greenest.
The first thing to consider when buying a mattress is the material that the mattress cover is made out of. While the three different mattress constructions are very different, all of them are covered by a fabric material on the outside. So no matter which mattress type you choose you can choose a mattress that uses organic and natural materials for the cover material. Organic cotton and wool are both good choices for the mattress cover material, so be on the lookout for these materials when shopping for mattresses.
The second green issue to consider when buying a mattress is where it was manufactured. Mattresses manufactured in far away countries must be shipped to the country they are sold in, thus increasing the carbon footprint of the mattress. So look for mattresses that are constructed close to where they are sold.
Now that we have covered the green issues associated with buying a mattress, it is time to learn how each of the three different types of mattresses are constructed and how natural the materials used in them are.
The first and most common type of mattress is the inner spring mattress. This type of mattress is the oldest and is the cheapest of the three types. This mattress is constructed with springs (usually made of metal) surrounded by a supportive foam material and then covered in a fabric cover. The material used for the springs is almost always a man-made material, and therefore not natural. The foam supporting material is also almost uniformly synthetic as well. The box spring models of this type of mattress also contain wood, the harvest and processing of which is detrimental to the environment.
The second type of mattress is called memory foam. The mattress is made entirely of a block of this foam and covered with a fabric material. The common brand name is Tempurpedic. Memory foam gives way to weight and forms around the body, providing great custom support. The problem with memory foam when it comes to green issues is that it is a synthetic material and even worse, it is a petroleum product. The chemicals used in the manufacturing process, known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) can outgas from the mattress for years.
The third type of mattress is known as latex foam. Latex foam mattresses are similar to memory foam with latex foam in place of memory foam. One thing to note about latex foam is that there are two types of latex that it is made from: natural latex and synthetic latex. Latex foam mattresses can be made from one or both of these types of latex. Natural latex is exactly that, latex made from extracting the sap from a rubber tree. Synthetic latex is made using a chemical process. One other benefit of latex foam mattresses is that they are naturally resistant to mold, mildew, dust mites, and bed bugs.
So if you want to buy a commercially produced mattress that is the most natural and has the least effect on the environment, choose a mattress that is made out of 100% natural latex foam, covered in a 100% natural and organic material such as cotton or wool, and manufactured close to where you live. If you make these choices when buying a mattress, you will know that you are making a conscious effort to be as green as possible.