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Eco-Friendly Mattress Features
Important if you value natural materials and 'green' policies

Last updated on August 19, 2020

Sustainable manufacturing, natural materials, and reducing use of chemicals are some ways mattress brands are trying to be more eco-friendly.

Right now, there is simply no organized or nationwide initiative to recycle or re-use mattresses, and an estimated 50,000 beds and box springs are discarded in landfills EVERY DAY. At the same time, many (if not most) charities refuse to accept mattresses as donations due to hygiene concerns.

With no real solution in sight, companies are launching eco-friendly initiatives reduce the use of chemicals and non-renewable materials while also responding to demand for more socially conscious company policies.

Materials Certifications: What Do They Mean?

There's no uniformity among mattress brands with the exception of widespread adoption of some voluntary safety certifications. Modern petroleum-based foams used in mattresses, for example, can be certified to the CertiPUR-US standard, which ensures a minimal level of chemical off-gassing. Nearly all mainstream foam-containing mattresses include these certified foams.

This certification means the foam has been tested for hazardous emissions, uniformity, and durability. It ensures the foam is made without the use of ozone-depleting chemicals, formaldehyde, lead, or other heavy metals.

A step beyond CertiPUR-US is Greenguard Gold Certification, which means materials have very low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), low enough to make these materials safe for use in schools and hospitals.

Keep in mind that neither CertiPUR-US nor Greenguard Gold Certification indicates any natural or organic materials. They merely ensure that the materials meet low and legally acceptable levels of off-gassing and hazardous chemicals.

Natural, Organic, Okeo-Tex and GOTS Certifications

Increasingly, mattresses boast covers made with environmentally friendly fabrics and other textile components. Here are some of the terms you might see and what they mean, from broad to more restrictive.

  • Natural. Made with some amount of plant- or animal-based materials. Examples of natural materials include wool, cotton, silk, mohair, horsehair, bamboo, coconut fiber, etc. Keep in mind that 'natural' does not mean 100% natural unless specifically stated. For example, a cover made with a blend of cotton and polyester might still be said to be made with natural materials, and the term 'natural' has no relation to how those materials are sourced or produced.
  • Organic. The general term 'organic' refers to the raw materials that go into a given material. For example, an 'organic cotton' cover (assuming no specific certifications) can mean that the raw cotton was grown without the use of chemical pesticides, but doesn't extend to how the fabric was produced or what dyes might be used.
  • Okeo-Tex Standard 100 certification. This certification means that textiles have been tested for more than 100 harmful substances including formaldehyde, lead, and petrochemicals and is deemed safe for human use. It does not, however, mean that the material is organic, so you may often see a manufacturer call their cover both Okeo-Tex certified and certified organic.
  • Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). This is a stringent global standard that indicates a material is both organic and free from harmful chemicals along the entire supply chain, from raw materials through production.
  • Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS). Similar to the textile standard above, but for natural latex.
See our Mattress Certifications guide for these and other symbols and endorsements you might encounter.

Certification Logos

Use of Natural Materials in Mattresses

Most mattresses sold today are made entirely of man-made materials: petroleum-based polyurethane foams, manufactured steel, polyester fabrics, etc. But companies are beginning to incorporate some natural materials. See our Guide to Natural and Organic Mattresses for more.

Organic cotton, bamboo, and wool

A few brands are now making standard mattresses with 100% organic cotton covers. This, at least, ensures that the part of the mattress closest to your body is made of natural, organic, and chemical free material. Bamboo is another natural material that's being used in fabrics, touted for its moisture-wicking properties.

We have also seen manufacturers incorporate wool fibers in covers, and some luxury mattresses use wool fleece extensively. Wool has temperature-regulating properties and can help keep you warm in winter, yet cool in summer.

Natural latex

When it comes to the comfort and support materials in a mattress, some beds include a layer of latex. The term "all natural" or "100% natural" means the latex foam is made entirely from the sap of conventionally grown rubber trees. It's less common, but you can find organic latex in mattresses, grown without the use of chemical pesticides (these typically carry the GOLS certification). Be aware, however, that a bed touting "natural latex" (as opposed to all-natural) is most likely a blend of natural and synthetic latex. And a bed that just says "latex" is most likely all synthetic. As you can tell, the latex world can get confusing. See our guide to Latex Mattresses for more details.

Silk, Mohair, Down, and More

Far less common is the use of natural materials like silk, mohair, goose down and feathers, coconut fiber (coir), and horsehair. These are most often found in luxury and ultra-luxury beds.

Eco-Friendly and Socially Conscious Company Policies

Some brands and manufacturers have instituted corporate and manufacturing policies meant to less the environmental impact of the mattress industry, support sustainable materials, and/or support the health of its workforce and community. The "green-features" policies vary a lot by the company, if a company has any at all. Most are not shy, however, about making sure you know about them. Some examples:

Saatva, which also makes the Loom & Leaf Bed, claims it donates 250 mattresses per year to charity, and one of its factories runs on solar power.

Leesa, which also makes the Sapira bed, says it donates one mattress for every 10 it sells, along with planting a tree for each mattress sold.

Avocado uses recycled steel for its springs.

Vispring, a luxury brand, obtains many of its materials (sheep from local wool, wood from a sustainable forest) locally to support the community and to minimize shipping distances.

Hastens, another luxury bedding company with a long history, also sources locally, sustainably, and transparently.

GoodBed's "Green" Rating

In our GoodBed Expert Reviews, we give each mattress an overall GoodBed Green Rating as a way to subjectively evaluate eco-friendly materials and company policies:

  • Safety and off-gassing certifications
  • Use of natural materials
  • Use of organic materials
  • Stated corporate policies

Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being highest. Most standard mattresses with certified synthetic foams receive a "5" for average. Mattresses can score additional points by including more natural materials or with environmental and sustainability practices.

Mattresses with a high degree of natural and organic materials score highly on our eco-friendly scale, including:

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