With the push for all things “green”, there are many manufacturers and vendors are claiming their products are “eco-friendly” and even “organic”. The fact of the matter is that very few, if any, mattress are truly “organic” in any sense of the word. While many of these “green” beds are made of natural ingredients, those ingredients may come at the expensive of a forest. Also, to improve the longevity of the bed and sterilize them, many of these supposedly organic components are saturated in the same chemicals vendors claim are harmful.
Some manufacturers may claim their products are “certified” organic, but that certification may apply to only one or more materials in the mattress (for example the cotton) and unless that certification comes from the US Department of Agriculture, it’s not truly certified. The fact is no government agency regulates the labeling of mattresses as “organic” or “natural” and trade groups like International Sleep Products Association provide no guidelines to their members in using such terms.
One vendor, who claims to be an “eco-friendly mattress store”, offers mattresses made from a product they claim is “BioFoam” which is made of 12% castor bean oil (the same oil from which the poison Sarin is derived) and the other 88% is made of traditional petroleum-based foam. But keep in mind, the products used in most traditional mattresses are used in many other products common in our daily lives. Our clothing, shoes, cars and other daily-use products like bandages contain the same kinds of materials treated in the same manner as those in traditional mattresses.
Is there truly a benefit to going “green”? Does the “green” bed provide any health benefits over traditional mattresses? Steven Safe, professor of toxicology at Texas A&M University regards traditional mattress materials as benign. “They’re unlikely to be leaching out” he said adding that their ending up in a landfill has more impact on the environment. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” he said, adding that manufacturers strive to reduce the presence of chemicals in mattresses. “But I don’t really see it as a safety issue.” (New York Times, 1/15/2009, The Stuff Dreams are Made of?)
Given the loose standards applied to the claims of “eco-friendliness” in the market, and the fact that most “eco-friendly” mattress are considerably more expensive than traditional beds, and the fact that so-called “green” mattresses provide little (if any) health benefits it behooves the consumer to do considerable research on the various claims of manufacturers before going green.