One of the most challenging aspects of shopping for any organic product is sorting through the flowery marketing language to determine how the underlying ‘green’-ness of the products actually compare. It seems that all marketers are smart enough to apply the key buzzwords in generous proportions — green, sustainable, eco-friendly, environmentally safe, 100% natural, etc. — as they know these are words you want to hear. But what do these terms really mean, and do they mean the same thing to each different manufacturer and retailer as they mean to you? The ultimate irony is that while these messages aim to convince you that a certain product is the best, they often inadvertently make each product sound the same as all the rest.
Unfortunately, organic mattresses are not immune to this problem. In fact, due to the relative nascence of the green mattress trend, this problem may be even more pronounced in the organic mattress industry, where manufacturers are still experimenting with new natural mattress materials, and everyone is still deciding what makes a mattress truly ‘organic.’
Thankfully, there may be light at the end of this tunnel — the Specialty Sleep Association recently convened a group of leading organic mattress manufacturers to begin developing a set of standard terms and definitions for describing organic mattresses. The initial meeting of this group took place in May and included discussions of everything from labeling to manufacturing processes to certifications. At Best Bed Guide, we applaud this initiative, and look forward to tracking the progress of this group in the future.
That said, while this meeting represents an important step forward for the mattress industry, be aware that this will inherently be a lengthy process. This is a collaborative effort, which requires the cooperation of over a dozen mattress industry participants, most of whom are competitors with their own entrenched interests and agendas. Reaching voluntary consensus among this group will be inherently challenging, as will enforcing behavior changes based on the ultimate outcome of this process. As such, we expect it will still be some time (quite possibly years) before consumers begin reaping the benefits of this initiative. For anyone that is currently in the market for a green mattress, this is probably too long to wait. However, when it comes to providing consumers with a clear set of standards and definitions for organic mattresses, I think we can all agree that it’s better late than never.