As consumers begin searching for mattresses free from fire-retardants and VOCs, many online sellers employ "greenwashing" as an advertising tool, often misleading buyers. Make no mistake, there are actual all natural and, in very limited cases, organic mattresses available, built with materials that make them, safe, comfortable and durable. With that in mind, FoamSource wants to offer advice on choosing the most natural materials for your mattress.
"Greenwashing" at its worst...
Let's start with an actual example of the extremes which some online sellers employ when "greenwashing" a mattress. The support layer of this mattress was 6" of "eco-friendly" foam, which is polyurethane foam with a small percentage, usually around 15%, of natural oil added. The manufacturer labeled this as "natural" foam. The next layer was 2" of blended latex, which is a combination of synthetic latex with a smaller percentage of natural latex added, which was labeled as "natural latex." Finally, the mattress was covered in GOTS certified organic cotton, which lead the manufacturer to label the entire mattress as an "organic mattress."
Now the mattress in this example could be a very comfortable and somewhat durable foam mattress. If you know that is what you are buying, it might be a good purchase. However, if the goal of your mattress purchase was a premium quality organic or all natural mattress, you have been mislead, and you purchased the wrong mattress. You will find several similar mattresses manufacturers online. In most cases, the manufacturers, while still misleading, are not quite so bold, only labeling mattresses with polyurethane cores and latex top layers as "natural" latex mattresses.
Polyurethane foams and "eco-friendly" foams are not natural foams...
Foam is quickly becoming the preferred mattress material for its comfort. Coil springs and innerspring mattresses were first designed in 1865, and have a reputation for pressure points at the shoulders and hips, and simply can not conform as gently as high quality foam. Its no surprise that most innerspring mattresses have a layer of polyurethane foam, or a "pillowtop" that can use a variety of foams, including polyurethane foam, memory foam and even latex.
Polyurethane foams are petroleum based foams, and "eco-friendly" polyurethane foams are not "natural" foam. They simply replace a small percentage of petroleum with a natural oil, such as soy oil or castor oil. Memory foam consists mainly of polyurethane. Additional chemicals are added to increase its viscosity and density, which result in the off-gassing often associated with memory foam mattresses.
All natural latex, or 100% natural latex, are only accurate descriptions of latex that has absolutely no synthetic content, using only botanical latex from the rubber tree. Once again, it is critical that the consumer can accurately identify the manufacturer of the latex, and, using a current Oeko-Tex certificate, the actual content of the latex they are purchasing.
Our flagship latex mattresses, the Nu-Lex, use all natural Talalay for both the core and topper layers of the mattresses. If you have decided on all natural latex, inform yourself when purchasing "natural" Talalay. This description is regularly applied to the blended Talalay from Talalay Global. The all natural, or 100% natural, Talalay is a very limited specialty latex, only about 5% of Talalay Global's production.
That being said, the blended Talalay that Talalay Global produces is very high quality, even passing the same Oeko-Tex Standard 100 as their all natural Talalay.
Latex Green produces Dunlop latex, which is either all natural Dunlop, or in limited quantities, organic Dunlop latex. While the process is the same for both types of Dunlop, the rubber trees for the organic Dunlop are grown organically.
Organic cotton and wool covers are the finishing touch...
Generally covers of organic cotton and organic wool are standard on premium natural latex mattresses. The wool batting is an important addition, as it is not only the best material for regulating body temperature, but it is also a natural fire-retardant, keeping harmful chemicals out of your mattress.
Just remember our example of "greenwashing." A layer of organic cotton on top of a mattress does not create an "organic" mattress, unless it is covering a mattress made only with organic wool, or a mattress using only the limited GOLS certified organic latex from Latex Green, everything else is hype or fraud.