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Truth, Lies, and Greenwashing: How To Know Your Mattress Is Truly Organic

If you are in the market for an organic mattress you have probably found that the road to finding the perfect mattress is one that might be a little tough to navigate. There are a number of natural mattress stores and manufacturers that sell products that are completely healthy, with no chemicals, and that are true to what they advertise. On the other hand, there are truth picturecompanies that blatantly lie and green wash to sell you a mattress that they claim is natural but that is in fact ridden with the toxic chemicals you are seeking so hard to avoid. This blog post will suggest how to distinguish less reputable from honorable mattress manufacturers. When it comes to your health you deserve to work with a company who is going to value your health and priorities as much as you do. Once you find a truly organic mattress with no chemicals the rest of the process should be easy.

The most important suggestion I have is to work with a company that you feel good about. You don’t have to work with someone you don’t trust and frankly you shouldn’t. Believe it or not, there are honest and transparent companies in today’s market that want what’s best for you and not just what’s best for them.

One of the primary issues today that drives many people to seek a natural mattress is the use of chemical flame retardants in conventional mattresses. Every mattress sold in the United States needs to pass a test regulated by the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations).  Most conventional mattresses contain chemical flame retardants, but the presence and type of flame retardants are not required to be disclosed to consumers.  The only information that needs to be disclosed is the primary materials used (i.e. polyurethane foam, polyester, cotton etc.) and whether or not it passed the flame standard. There are many ways to pass this test; such as the use of wool, other natural types of flame resistant mixtures, boric acid, and a variety of chemical flame-retardants, many of which have been tested to be carcinogenic.  Some of the bigger mattress manufacturers will make a mattress out of natural and organic materials and then treat it with a chemical flame retardant because it is less expensive than using something like wool. Putting a chemical flame retardant on an organic mattress is oxymoronic. The type of flame retardant used is such important information to have but isn’t always the easiest information to get from a retailer. Some conventional mattress stores are either ignorant about the use of flame retardants or they don’t want you to know how they met the CFR Regulation.  Be cautious about purchasing from a retailer where you cannot get a clean, educated, and honest answer.

Organic and environmentally friendly products are very popular these days, which I am thrilled about. Because of this, there is a very good opportunity for companies to be innovative and design new healthy products for consumers.  However, organic products are expensive which drives companies to figure out a way to make a product that will carry an “organic” or “green” label while meeting a certain price point. For instance a mattress manufacturer might decide that it is important for the mattress quilting to be made of organic cotton, so it can be sold with the “organic cotton” name but cannot justify the cost of using a natural product, like organic wool, to meet the CFR code. We have also seen instances where a company uses an organic fabric on the outside; again, to be able to sell with an “organic” tag, however, the inside of the mattress contains blended latex instead of 100% natural latex. Alternately, a natural latex mattress might contain natural latex but covered in a synthetic fabric. One has to be diligent to find out about every part of a mattress; if you see the word “organic” or “natural” it does not mean that the entire mattress consists of all organic or natural materials.

When researching organic products, it is important to ask for third party certifications.  A third party certification is when a product or raw material is tested by an approved non-biased organization to meet a set of criteria, such as the USDA. If a company is transparent in their practices, and is honest, such that the way they make their products aligns with the way they are marketing them, they will have no problems giving you information about their materials and 3rd party certifications. Don’t trust that it exists just because they say it does; ask to see the actual certification.  Many companies in the organic market will post their 3rd party certifications on a website or a brochure.  Don’t be afraid to ask for this information, you are the one who is going to be sleeping on it for the next 10, 15 or even 20 years! 

The bottom line is that you want to be working with a company that is willing to be honest and straightforward with you. Spend some time and do your research, an informed purchase will be a good purchase.