Updated: Feb 19, 2020
High quality sleep is a major part of healing and wellness. And having a good mattress makes all the difference for a good night's rest. I recently felt it was time to invest in finding the right mattress for me. Even if I don't/can't always meet this goal, I have a profound desire that the products I wear, eat, and use be beneficial for my body and the earth. I wanted my mattress to be free of chemicals, synthetic material and metal. So, this is what I learned (and I'm definitely not an expert on the production of any of these materials, so apologies if what I've deduced from my research is incorrect). Most mattresses (along w/food and home products) that are advertised as "natural," or even organic, aren't. The mattresses I found included a combination of, or solely:
-Springs-There is controversial research whether metal springs, even when pocketed and small, make a difference in increasing Electric and Magnetic Frequencies, which have been linked to electromagnetic radiation, which can cause cancer. Whether or not metal is a beneficial or sustainable mattress material, sleeping on metal doesn't feel good for my body, so this was a hard no for me anyways.
-"Natural" foam: from polyurethane, man made w/chemicals
-Latex: from the liquid sap of rubber trees. How do you make liquid into foam? You must add some chemicals and process it-yes, even for organic latex.
-Cotton-Production of cotton has a long history of slave labor and is extremely taxing on water and land resources. Pesticides are also heavily used on cotton, which is bad for the earth as well the animals and people living on or near cotton farms. Even organic cotton production allows for natural and synthetic pesticides, which are better, but still taxing. Also, Organic cotton production requires even more water and land, as the yield is much less than conventional cotton.
-Wool- Wool can be a wonderful option. Wool is naturally grounding, antibacterial, wicks away water (which is beneficial for sleeping as you lose up to a liter of water at night through sheets and/or mattress), and keeps you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It's durable and is the only material scientifically proven to benefit sleep. Also, sheep benefit from a haircut. But, some sheep are treated very inhumanely, and their wool can be treated with chemicals as well.
From these options, I finally decided on an all wool mattress, as it seemed to be the least harmful. (For a moment, I did think about a DIY bed that involves stuffing numerous pods with buckwheat hulls to make a mattress. Although I bet very comfortable, I think it would be noisy sleeping, and I'm still searching for my permanent home, so this didn't seem viable to me).
However, wool shifts and compresses, which means initially, the mattress should be over-stuffed and tufted. The only company I could find that does this is Home of Wool. The plus side is that their products are incredibly well made, their wool is free of chemicals and comes from sheep that are most likely treated well (as the farms in Bulgaria are small, and herders have better likelihood of a respectful relationship w/their sheep), and their products ship for free. They also have a 20% off zero waste mission mattress made from scraps of the larger remaining pieces of fabric of their other mattresses. The down side is of course Home of Wool products ship from Bulgaria...But I still felt like this was the best option for me, so I ordered the zero waste mattress and topper, and I'm so glad.
With an all wool mattress, it's important to rotate and flip every few days for the first couple months, and then once or twice a month through its lifetime (which can be a lifetime if you take good care of it!), so that it compresses evenly in the beginning of its life. This was not a problem for me, as I knew it'd be temporary, and seemed like I could do a little extra work if I wanted a sustainable mattress.
I feel so happy and excited to go to sleep knowing that what I'm sleeping on is grounding, free of chemicals and synthetic material, that I can re-stuff/fluff it at anytime of the course of its long life, and that when its time is done, my wool pad will dissolve into the earth without harm.
I'm curious if you've found an earth friendly mattress for yourself and family?