A mattress is a big purchase not to be taken lightly, given the number of hours you’ll use it, the years you’ll need it to last and the cost. They’re not all that easy to dispose of either.
Natural fibres are the best. Options for mattresses (and pillows and bedding) include wool, silk, hemp, organic cotton and natural latex. Avoiding synthetic fabrics and fibres derived from petrochemicals, like polyurethane foam, also eliminates concerns about off-gassing of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
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Natural options mean you needn’t lose sleep worrying about mites and fire resistance either. Conventional mattresses tackle these with chemical treatments and toxic compounds, but wool naturally repels dust mites and natural latex foam is fire-resistant.
Addressing mattress eco-friendliness wouldn’t be complete without mentioning PBDEs. These are a group of synthetic chemicals added as fire retardants. PBDEs are not produced in Canada but are imported by manufacturers and in consumer products (e.g., televisions, furniture, carpets, and curtains). Mattresses made in Canada generally do not contain these flame retardants, but it is always good to ask. Also, you should avoid additives used to repel stains and water.
Lindsay Coulter gives you the straight goods on living green. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more great tips, visit The David Suzuki Foundation at davidsuzuki.org.