Buying a mattress is a big decision. First things first, comfort is essential. Do you like it soft and springy or firmer with resistance? Then there’s the cost to think about. It’s usually quite an investment and looking online is particularly time consuming, as every website seems to be offering you the “best” on the market. More often than not, last on your checklist is the impact your purchase could be having on the environment...if it’s even on your checklist at all.
Did you know your mattress probably isn’t sustainable? If you think about it, cheap mattresses, just like cheap clothes, don’t last and are likely to end up on landfill in a couple of years. Not only that, it will likely come as no surprise to hear that what is good for the environment is good for your health. A good mattress is a green mattress – so we’re here to tell you how to sleep guilt free on eco-friendly alternatives from all over Europe.
Before we do, here are six criteria to consider when purchasing your sustainable mattress:
- Are the materials clean and green?
- Are they biodegradable?
- How healthy is the mattress for you?
- How durable is it?
- Does the organisation give back?
What makes an eco mattress? It’s all about production that doesn’t hurt the environment and buying from a company that looks into reducing their carbon footprint. This is achieved through the use of clean and natural materials such as bamboo, wool, and other plant based materials that are biodegradable. How the natural materials have been grown, and harvested, also plays into how eco-friendly the mattress is, as pesticides and fertilisers destroy ecosystems.
Put simply, man-made materials haven’t been in our ecosystems for hundreds of years, so ecosystems haven’t yet evolved to break them down. Faced with the staggering amounts of landfill generated each year, a biodegradable/upcycled mattress would do wonders for the planet!
Durability is a particularly important factor to take into consideration. If you were to buy two eco-friendly mattresses in the space of 10 years - have you really succeeded in being environmentally conscious? The answer is no, because mattresses are built to last, so you should only buy from brands that promise a long life for your mattress, if not a lifetime guarantee. Both production and shipping necessitates longevity, in order for it to be green.
Warning: Look out for certificates for legitimacy when it comes to so called ‘green’ mattresses.
Although some companies claim to be eco-friendly, this can be a false truth (or as some people call it, ‘greenwashing’). By stating the presence of clean materials within a product, a brand might not necessarily reveal the percentage of eco-friendly goodness within your purchase. So watch out – because your mattress could still be riddled with unnatural, toxic materials that do not biodegrade.
Here are five reliable brands to buy from, for a mattress that will last a lifetime:
Silentnight, who claim to be the “UK’s most trusted” mattress company, offer an eco comfort breathe collection. With its Microclimate System, combining 3 layers of “advanced breathability technology”, these mattresses offer optimum conditions for a restorative sleep. Crafted from patented sustainable materials, the company suggests their products won’t hurt the environment or your purse. 150 upcycled plastic bottled go into each mattress from this collection - that’s 150 fewer plastic bottles in landfill and oceans!
Teaming up with AWAKE, a specialist team of thinkers who study the relationship between sleep and fatigue, a study stats that Silentnight mattresses help you get to sleep faster, give you less disrupted sleep, reduce your susceptibility to overnight heating, and ultimately give the consumer a quality night’s sleep.
Equally, the company are also in partnership with the Marine Conservation Society, ensuring the seas are healthy, protected and pollution free. Silentnight announced that last year alone, “568,000 pieces of litter were removed from our coasts as a result of MCS campaigns”. Sounds like a good cause to us.
With free UK delivery and a 60 night comfort trial - these mattresses seem too good to be true.
The bed and mattress company, Demko, with Swiss/German origins, has been established in the UK since 2007. Boasting the highest quality in luxury mattresses, the company has been awarded more than 20 accolades for its innovation in design, especially for rehabilitation benefits.
Using organic latex, consumers avoid the harmful toxins and chemicals of many ‘normal’ mattresses. Another natural material used in the mattresses is ‘coir’, which comes from coconut trees. Extracted from the husk of coconuts, the fibre is elastic and strong, hardly deteriorating over time. Constructed from cotton, organic latex, ‘coir fibre’ and tencel, all of the materials in a Demko mattress are renewable and biodegradable.
Ensuring “100% organic and eco-friendly” materials, a spokesperson for the company, assures us that the company not only uses green fabrics, but does not use adhesive like many other ‘natural’ mattress brands do. The adhesive is usually used to both spray the exterior of the mattress and glue the layers of the mattresses together. Instead, Demko use an extra inner layer to hold the mattress tightly together and adopt a graphite layer on top of the mattress (to comply with fire safety laws).
The Swedish manufacturer, Hästens, states that it uses sustainable resources and ethically-sourced and natural materials. Amongst the materials is flax, hypoallergenic horsehair, wool and cotton. The company suggests that each individual curled horse-hair not only acts as an additional spring system but also channels moisture from the body and lets new fresh air in. The natural antibacterial qualities mean that your bed is hygienic for sleeping and the material is incredibly durable.
We breath through our skin as well as through our lungs, therefore we don’t want our skin’s surface absorbing harmful chemicals and toxins. The use of cotton helps avoid this and it ensures your mattress is soft to the touch. In addition, the use of wool renders the mattresses relatively flame resistant and flax absorbs noise and vibration for a deep uninterrupted night’s sleep.
Though the company has made a commendable effort in eco-friendly materials, the use of springs within each mattress suggests that their products are not 100% sustainable.
British company UNA has been making natural mattresses for 30 years. It claims to be 100% organic and adopts a social and fairtrade, global organic textile and latex standard. Like Demko, it has removed all toxic petro-chemicals and glues from its mattresses, and uses organic cotton, wool and latex, to ensure that both you and the rest of the world are breathing fresh air at night.
There are three layers to the mattress, one firm, one medium and one soft – and UNA has made it possible to switch the layers in order to customise your sleep. These layers are then covered in 100% cotton and wool casing which is naturally flame retardant and helps regulate heat. Natural latex is sourced from Sri Lanka and India from the Hevea Brasiliensis tree. This, like the other materials UNA uses, is sustainably sourced which means that no harsh chemicals are emitted from the product.
UNA are conscious of the costs of eco-friendly mattresses too - using ‘mattress in a box packaging’ and cutting out the middle men has meant it can reduce its prices in order to make mattresses more accessible. Indeed, going through our checklist, UNA seems to tick a lot of boxes as 5% of the proceeds from each purchase goes to a community project in the UK or India.
With an 100 nights trial, a 100% money back guarantee and a 10 year warranty, it seems clear to us that UNA have faith in their products.
Hypnos is a luxury mattress brand who is trying to put sustainability at the forefront of its agenda with an array of certificates to prove it. This includes being awarded the ‘first carbon neutral bedmaker in the world’. The company avoids synthetics, chemicals and memory foam, claiming to use “the best materials sourced from around the world”, like horse hair, latex, cotton and wool. These natural materials ensure great heat distribution. Handcrafted and hypoallergenic, the mattresses incorporate Solotex (a material with a soft and cushioned texture), which enhances the ultra-soft feel. The pocket springs are designed to understand the shape of your body and respond to it accordingly. This makes for excellent weight distribution and support.
All mattresses are also 100% recyclable at the end of their lives and Hypnos has created a disposing and recycling service especially for the mattresses to ensure this. It’s eco conscience even extends further than design as the company has recently recruited a sustainable development director to prove it. The team claim that landfill has been entirely eliminated and all waste is recycled – as well as the fact that they’ve drastically minimised carbon emissions, waste and energy. By supporting several certified climate projects, such as planting trees in the UK and the Amazon, and bringing clean water to Uganda, this mattress brand certainly gives back to the environment.
Though they may have a high-price point, these royally approved beds are sure to give you a carefree night’s sleep.
What is organic latex and what are its benefits?
The Hevea Brasiliensis tree produces natural latex and is among the most ecological trees in the world. Similar to a rainforest tree, it absorbs huge amounts of CO2 and many need to be tapped in order to create enough rubber for one double mattress. As a result, many trees are planted, CO2 is absorbed, the air is cleaner and jobs are created to oversee the process. A sustainable cycle is therefore created through the production line.
Organic latex is at the forefront of natural durable cushioning material. It is made from a milky substance that is excreted from the bark of a rubber tree when it is slashed – but don’t worry, the process bears no harm on the trees. The product at the end of the ‘whipping and baking process’ is subsequently naturally biodegradable.
It’s good to bear in mind that organic latex is a great choice for those who suffer from asthma and allergies, due to its natural resistance to bacteria, mould and dust mites. Embedded in the material is thousands of small air cells, these help the body control its temperature. Latex mattresses do not contain metal springs and therefore avoid negative effects on the environment such as “electromagnetic smog”, defined as artificially generated electromagnetic fields in the environment.
As luxury brands go, you can expect a higher price point for these mattresses, but rest assured some of the profit goes to charities, and more importantly, each mattress is kind to the planet and humanity!
Words: Kiltie De Cleyn