Not too long ago, comfort and price were the only factors at play for many when they shopped for a new mattress. But as pollution from things like plastic and chemicals continue to take a toll on the world, environmental impact is increasingly on consumers' minds. The upside? There's a growing market for eco-friendly products, from compost bins to bedding. The downside? It can be frustrating to figure out which products to trust and what to look for. If you’re eager to shop for a sustainable mattress and put your money where your (green) heart is, we’ve consulted experts on how to choose a sustainable mattress and compiled some top-rated eco-friendly mattress options organized by the materials they’re made out of.
SKIP AHEAD Organic cotton mattresses | Natural latex mattresses | Tencel mattresses | Organic wool mattress
What is sustainable bedding, anyway?
While it might seem that “natural” is good and synthetic is bad, it’s more complex than that. There are actually environmental issues linked to most natural materials, explained Kiersten Muenchinger, an associate professor of product design with a focus on sustainability at the University of Oregon. After all, you still need to use resources to produce these materials. And there is little regulation on the use of the word “natural” outside of food labeling, noted Maggie Lee, who manages the SEA circular project at the United Nations Environment Programme.
There are legitimate reasons to shop for natural products: You may want to reduce the number of petroleum-based objects you send into landfills or you may be sensitive to the chemicals and strong odors often found in some synthetic products. Foam mattresses can also release potentially harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air over time — especially in the first few days you have the mattress (this is called off-gassing).
Sometimes, natural materials can also enhance the sleep experience. Materials like cotton, tencel and wool can provide additional breathability to your mattress, which can help you sleep cooler. “We know that the quicker your body temperature falls, the quicker you fall asleep,” said Dr. Seema Khosla, medical director of the North Dakota center for sleep. “Sleep environment” can have a lot to do with your core body temperature drop, she said.
Top-rated eco-friendly mattresses
If you want a natural mattress, the most common materials you’ll find are organic cotton, natural latex, Tencel and wool. But what are they, exactly? Below, we gave an overview of each and listed some highly rated mattresses that use sustainable materials.
Organic Cotton Mattresses
Organic cotton should contain no chemicals, synthetics or pesticides. Farmworkers, the soil and consumers benefit from reduced exposure to these substances. However, as Lee pointed out, the term “organic” is often more relevant to human health than to sustainability – just because something is organic, does not necessarily mean it’s better for the environment. Organic cotton, in particular, could require more resources to process than conventional cotton.
1. Avocado Vegan Mattress
Natural latex, organic cotton and a supportive innerspring unit make up this eco-friendly mattress from Avocado, which features no polyester, polyurethane foams or toxic fire retardants, according to the brand. The company also says it offsets 100% of its carbon emissions and is part of the 1% for the Planet program, as well as the Climate Neutral coalition. The mattress has a 4.6-star average rating from over 920 reviews on Avocado.
Natural Latex Mattresses
Natural latex is made from the sap of rubber trees. For latex to be called organic, no trees or soil can be treated in any way with pesticides or chemicals during the production process.
2. Saatva Zenhaven Mattress
Made with natural latex as well as organic wool and cotton, the Zenhaven mattress is breathable and can naturally regulate your body temperature, according to the brand. The mattress is two-sided — the “luxury plush” side is softer while the “gentle firm” side offers firmer support. It has a 4.9-star average rating from over 220 reviews on Saatva.
3. Awara Organic Luxury Hybrid Mattress
The Awara mattress is made with a natural latex foam, New Zealand wool and organic cotton. The company also says it works to offset its carbon emissions by planting trees for every mattress sold. It has a nearly 5-star average rating from over 990 reviews on Awara.
4. Nest Bedding Natural Hybrid Latex
Nest Bedding provides several natural latex bedding options, including the Certified Organic All Latex mattress and the Natural All Latex. The Natural Hybrid Latex mattress is made from a combination of 100% natural Dunlop latex, organic knit cotton, Joma Wool and eco-friendly CertiPUR-US certified comfort foam, according to the brand. It has a 4.7-star average rating from over 4,600 reviews on Nest Bedding.
Tencel is a relatively new material that is made from wood pulp and other natural substances. It was purposefully invented with sustainability in mind — its production uses less water than cotton and boasts closed-loop manufacturing (in which any waste created is repurposed for another product). Mattress manufacturers often use the material in their covers.
5. The Nectar Memory Foam Mattress
This mattress, which has a tencel cooling cover, also uses vegetable-based polyurethane. Muenchinger says this polyurethane is more sustainable in the sense that it is a renewable resource, but it takes more energy to produce. It has a 4.8-star average rating from over 44,000 reviews on Amazon.
Organic Wool Mattresses
Usually, the term “organic” does not define the wool itself — it denotes that the sheep it came from eat organic food and that no chemicals were used in extracting the wool. Purchasing humanely sourced wool ensures that the sheep were not harmed or mistreated. Wool is also a natural fire retardant and provides breathability.
6. Birch Natural Mattress
Handmade in the U.S., this Birch mattress gets its cotton from local farms and its humane and organic wool from New Zealand farmers, according to the brand. It’s made by the same company that produces Helix mattresses, which we’ve recommended in our guides to soft and firm mattresses. Each mattress comes with a cover made from natural organic cotton that’s designed to be highly breathable and contains a subtle stretch for comfort. It has a 4.6-star average rating from over 3,100 reviews on Birch.
7. Avocado Green Mattress
Another option from Avocado, the Green Mattress sources its organic latex, wool and cotton from its own farms and collectives in India, according to the brand. The mattresses are hand-tufted and made in California. It has a 4.7-star average rating from over 17,000 reviews on Avocado.
Is your mattress certified?
Sustainability certifications are meant to let consumers know that a company’s claims are legitimate. Muenchinger said that the more certifications a company has, “the more they are committed to their product hitting all the markers” of sustainability. Lee warned, however, that you should take certifications with a grain of salt since there are no global standards or regulations for some of them. With this in mind, here are several highly rated beds with some of the certifications you’re most likely to come across, and what those certifications stand for.
8. PlushBeds Natural Bliss
OEKO-TEX certifies that fabrics do not contain harmful chemicals and are free from allergenic substances. The natural latex used in this anti-microbial Plushbeds mattress is OEKO-TEX-certified and doesn’t contain any blends, synthetics or chemicals, according to the brand. It has a 4.9-star average rating from over 280 reviews on PlushBeds.
9. Brentwood Home Oceano Luxury Hybrid Mattress
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) ensures that companies don’t use loopholes to falsely claim their products as organic. The wool and cotton found in this Brentwood Homes mattress are both GOTS-certified. It has a 4.7-star average rating from over 680 reviews on Brentwood Home.
10. T&N Original Mattress
If you’re sensitive to chemicals and synthetic materials, you’ll want to look for the GreenGuard Gold certification, which has strict chemical emissions exposure standards. The Original Mattress, as a whole product, boasts this certification. It has a 4.6-star average rating from over 34,000 reviews on Tuft & Needle.
11. DreamCloud Luxury Hybrid Mattress
CertiPUR-US tests for harmful chemicals and emissions in foam. However, Muenchinger said that even standard mattresses without the certification are unlikely to contain high amounts of harmful substances like lead and mercury. This certification is most relevant to people with notable sensitivities. CertiPUR-US-certified mattresses can contain some synthetic materials, but this does not necessarily make them worse for the environment. In the DreamCloud mattress, you won’t find synthetic flame retardants, ozone depleters or heavy metals, according to the brand. It has a 4.8-star average rating from over 7,900 reviews on DreamCloud.
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