How much thought have you given to the materials inside of your bed? Many mattresses today are made with memory, polyurethane or synthetic latex foam for increased comfort, but these foams can be made with chemicals like propylene oxide, benzene, flame retardants and polybrominated diphenyl ethers. Considering we spend around a third of our lives asleep and face-to-face with our mattresses, this fact can be cause for concern.
Luckily, many bedding brands have taken the extra precautions to source and manufacture their mattresses more sustainably and cleanly, using third-party organizations to verify their efforts with certifications. You can find a bed’s certifications displayed within the bed’s description on a brand’s website or the mattress tag.
Here are the certifications to watch out for when shopping for a clean, non-toxic mattress.
A mattress with a CertiPUR-US seal is guaranteed free of ozone depleters, PBDEs, flame retardants, mercury, lead, formaldehyde, phthalates and low in volatile organic compounds, which contribute to emissions and off-gassing smells.
Popular beds including the Casper Original and Nectar mattress have been awarded this certification.
2. Oeko-Tex Standard 100
The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certifies textiles and home furnishings like foam, cotton and latex. This certification guarantees every stitch of a mattress, from the thread to the foam, was tested for (and free of) a list of up to 350 harmful chemicals.
A mattress with a GreenGuard seal has met strict standards against VOC emissions, while a GreenGuard Gold certification verifies that a bed has successfully passed emission tests with even stricter standards.
4. Global Organic Textile Standard
To obtain a GOTS seal, the material must be made up of at least 95% organic fibers and meet stringent environmental standards. Cotton and wool inside of a mattress must be GOTS certified to be considered organic.
5. Global Organic Latex Standard
For latex foam to be considered organic and achieve a GOLS certification, the mattress must contain at least 95% raw organic material. It also must adhere to high environmental and sustainability standards throughout all points of the supply chain, from the farms the latex is sourced from to the manufacturing process.
6. Responsible Wool Standard
Wool given the Responsible Wool Standard certification is of the highest quality and has upheld standards throughout the supply chain. It guarantees:
- Environmental protection
- Animal protection
- Human rights protection
The RWS seal verifies the wool was sustainably sourced from environmentally-friendly, cruelty-free farms and processed at socially-conscious factories.
7. Cradle to Cradle
Textiles like cotton with a Cradle to Cradle certification must uphold the highest of standards in:
- Material health
- Renewable energy
- Use of material
- Social equality
8. Fair Trade
A Fair Trade USA certified mattress was manufactured in factories that follow ethical workplace practices and promote a safe environment. Workers are protected by policies that give them the right to negotiate fair wages and discuss complaints without fear of retaliation.
Natural vs. Organic mattresses: What’s the difference?
While you mattress shop, you’ll see brands use terms like “natural” and “organic” when describing their mattresses and the materials inside them. The terms might seem interchangeable, but there is a difference.
Natural mattresses are typically made of Talalay or Dunlop latex foam and added comfort materials like cotton and wool. Talalay and Dunlop latex foam is sourced from nature; the sap of a rubber tree is baked and cooled into bouncy, soft foam slabs. Cotton and wool are also natural materials that aren’t manufactured inside a factory.
That said, if a latex mattress isn’t marketed as organic, the latex or other textiles didn’t meet the required standards to achieve a GOLS or GOTS certification. Therefore, they can be called natural, but not earn the hard-won “organic” seal.
I’ve often seen mattresses that use GOTS certified cotton, but not GOLS certified latex, like the EcoCloud from WinkBed.
Organic mattresses are typically made of GOLS certified organic latex foam, and GOTS certified cotton and wool. All textiles and foam within the mattress must be made up of at least 95% organic materials, and the brand has to follow strict environmental and humanitarian guidelines throughout every step of the process.
Beds with organic certifications include the Avocado Green mattress and Birch mattress.