Updated: Feb 2
When it’s time for a new mattress, finding the right one is only the beginning. By looking for the right certifications you can find a mattress that’s been manufactured with environmental and human safety in mind. Responsible disposal of an old mattress poses a unique challenge, especially with concerns of bedbug infestations. But, recycling facilities and charitable organizations can provide an environmentally-safe option for many people.
Eco-Friendly Mattress Options
A truly eco-friendly mattress probably has more than a label that says green, organic, or all-natural. The mattress industry doesn’t have any government sanctioned standards for what constitutes a green mattress. Because of that, you have to check the label and look for the right certifications.
Scan the Label
Mattresses are often made of many components, any one of which may have been exposed to harmful chemicals. When a mattress says that it’s “organic”, read the label to see what specific components that label applies to. It may mean the raw materials used to make the cover or the wood harvested for the frame, but rarely does it mean the entire mattress. Try to find components made from as many organic raw materials and processes as possible.
If you’re looking for a natural, eco-friendly mattress, it’s hard to beat a natural latex mattress. These mattresses are made from latex derived from the sap of the rubber tree. A Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) certification ensures that all the latex used in the mattress is 95% organically produced. Be aware that even these mattress will have some synthetic materials.
Natural latex comes with a high price. If you’re don’t have the budget for one of these high-end mattresses, there are other, though less eco-friendly, options.
Foam: Foam mattresses are made with either polyfoam or memory foam. While both can be certified to be free of harmful emissions or other risks to human health, both will have been exposed to chemicals at some point in the manufacturing process. However, you can look for foams made from plant-based memory foam for a greener option.
Innerspring: The steel coils of innerspring mattresses have to be exposed to industrial processes. However, they can be made using sustainable methods if an innerspring works best for you.
Hybrids: Hybrids use elements from both foam and innerspring mattresses and some incorporate latex as well. If they combine latex and innerspring elements, they may be less expensive than an all-latex mattress while still providing a more eco-friendly option than a foam or regular innerspring.
Responsible Mattress Disposal
The Salvation Army and Goodwill usually take mattress donations. Many independent second-hand stores may take them as well, but be sure to call ahead to make sure. Bed bug infestations have made these charitable organizations careful about how and when they take mattress donations. Try your local neighborhoods “buy nothing” group or Craigslist if you don’t have the means to transport the mattress yourself.
Recycling your mattress may come with a small fee, but it’s usually worth it to keep the mattress out of the landfill. There are two recycling facilities in the Puget Sound area that take mattress donations. According to ByeByeMattress.com, A Plus Removal & Recycling in Auburn, WA takes mattress as does Spring Back Recycling in Tacoma, WA. Call to make sure they take your mattress type and to find out if they have removal services available.