Organic and natural mattresses are becoming increasingly popular and customers are starting to become more conscious about their choices, even when picking their mattresses. The media is telling us every day that we need to stop using single-use plastics, releasing toxic materials and start thinking more long term.
Slowly but surely the brands are starting to look away from cheap, chemically packed materials and making way for greener alternatives in their chain of production. We have put together a guide to some of the top natural and organic mattress options available right now in the UK, as well as clarifying the differences between an organic mattress and a sustainable mattress.
(Important Facts, Studies, Advice, Considerations and FAQ's in Conclusion).
|MATTRESS||LABELLED AS||FIRMNESS||TRIAL & WARRANTY||PRICE|
|Una Organic Mattress Delux||Organic Mattress||Adjustable/ customisable||100 Nights|
|Ely Mattress||Natural Mattress||Soft to Medium or Medium to Firm||30 Nights|
|Abaca Ramsey Organic Mattress||Organic Mattress||Soft, Medium or Firm||NA Nights|
|Silentnight Eco Comfort Pocket 1200 Mattress||Eco-friendly Mattress||Medium/Firm||60 Nights Exchange|
|John Lewis Natural Collection Hemp 2500 Mattress||Natural Mattress||Medium||NA Nights|
|Happy Beds Bamboo Fabric Natural Fillings Mattress||Natural Fillings Mattress||Personalisable||NA Nights|
1. Una Organic Mattress
|• Organic latex foam with 7 zones|
• Practical and sustainable mattress-in-a-box
• Regulable firmness
|• Most sleeping positions|
• Hot sleepers
• Couples with different firmness preferences
The Una Mattress Organic Mattress Delux is made from only organic certified premium materials. It has seven zones, and it allows you to individually set your own comfort and firmness preferences.
This mattress comes in a wide variety of sizes and is certified organic by the Control Union, meeting various standards including the Social and Fair-Trade Standard. It is made from 100% organic materials including latex and soft, organic wool and cotton. The wool and cotton cover is designed to allow for airflow and to wick away moisture which reduces the risk of overheating.
Una is a sustainable brand that puts the environment first. They don’t use industrial glues or petroleum foam that can pollute our planet. With the mattress comes a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year guarantee. Customer reviews for this mattress are very good with many noting that it is extremely comfortable, while others talk about the organic qualities of the mattress.
2. Ely Natural Mattress
|• Handles on the side for easier flipping|
• Enhanced comfort thanks to its 13 layers
• Edge-to-edge support
|• Hot sleepers|
• All sleeping positions
• Sleepers that enjoy bounce
The Ely Mattress features ActivEdge Perimeter with performance pocket springs. The brand has also added 4,000 Nested Tablet pocket springs which add to the mattresses comfort and ensures your body is supported when you are asleep. There are various layers and zones which support the key parts of your body.
The organic and natural materials that make up this mattress could make it a suitable option for those who are environmentally conscious. You’ll find natural hypoallergenic cotton, wool, silk, cashmere and horsehair within the mattress.
Alongside the high-quality and natural materials used in this mattress, you can also choose your preferred firmness level. There is a 30-night sleep trial included and a 10-year warranty for your peace of mind. The Ely Mattress also has turnable handles so you can easily rotate your mattress throughout the year.
3. Abaca Ramsey Organic Mattress
|• No metal springs|
• Handmade in Wales
|• People looking for a supportive, metal free mattress|
• Most firmness preferences
• Children and light-weight adults
When you choose a latex mattress, you can enjoy organic sleep without unnecessary metal added. The Abaca Ramsey mattress contains 15cms of natural latex in the core, which is a great natural alternative to memory foam. The organic latex in this mattress is certified by the FSC and the GOLS which are two well-known certification bodies.
The Ramsey mattress is handmade to order in Abaca’s Welsh workshop. The organic materials and the process involved in making this mattress make it suitable for those who experience chemical sensitivity and allergies. With the mattress comes a 15-year guarantee so you can expect it to last a long time. The organic cotton cover protects the mattress when you sleep and allows for enhanced breathability.
Abaca is a respected brand in the UK and the customer reviews for this mattress support this. There are plenty of 5-star reviews for the Ramsey mattress that note just how comfortable it is. Many reviews also talk warmly about the personalised customer service of the brand.
4. Silentnight Eco Mattress
|• Made with 150 recycled plastic bottles|
• Award-winning mattress
• Breathable and cool
|• People looking to buy from a carbon-neutral brand|
• Sleepers enjoying a medium-firm feel
• Hot sleepers
The Eco Comfort Pocket 1200 Mattress from Silentnight has been the winner of the Good Housekeeping Getting Greener award in the past. This ensures that it is made in an eco-friendly way and that you can have the peace of mind that you are not harming the environment through your purchase.
The Eco Comfort Pocket 1200 mattress is made from recycled plastic bottles. Thanks to this process, Silentnight has managed to prevent 105 million plastic bottles from going into the ocean.
Its Eco Comfort layer is fully breathable, making it a potentially great mattress for hot sleepers. The fibres have been constructed vertically to provide extra support as you sleep. Additionally, there is a Mirapocket spring system in place that has individual springs which react to movement as you sleep, providing an even weight distribution.
The mattress comes with free UK delivery and a 60-night comfort exchange thrown in. This means that if you aren’t happy with your mattress, you can send it back and exchange it for another. This mattress has hundreds of reviews on the Silentnight website with an average of 9 out of 10. Customers rate this mattress highly for comfort, appearance and quality.
5. John Lewis Natural Hemp Mattress
|• Fully recyclable materials|
• High-density springs
• 7-year guarantee
|• Sleepers prone to overheating|
• People enjoying extra support
• People prone to allergies
Inside of this natural mattress, you’ll find upholstered layers with breathable hemp, cotton and insulating wool. This mixture of materials allows your mattress to maintain a natural airflow throughout the night. Additionally, you’ll find that hemp and cotton can provide a fresh and hygienic feel. More than 50% of the mattress fillings are sourced and grown from a local Yorkshire farm.
On top of the natural benefits of this mattress, you’ll find that it is engineered to be comfortable as well. This mattress is described as neither too soft nor firm due to the balance of the springs. There are high-density springs that are smaller and tightly coiled to ensure your body is supported across the bed.
You won’t find any harmful chemicals in this natural mattress but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t fire retardant. This mattress is compliant with regulations and allows you to have the peace of mind that you aren’t endangering your health while sleeping on it. Also worth noting is that the mattress comes with a 7-year guarantee.
6. Happy Beds Mirage Natural Bamboo Mattress
|• Enhanced breathability through the air vents|
• Handles for easy flipping/rotating
• Natural filling such as wool and cashmere
|• Sleepers looking for added support at night|
• People enjoying a medium-firm feel
• Shoppers on a budget
The Mirage Spring Quilted Bamboo mattress is made with eco-friendly bamboo yarn, making it naturally hypoallergenic. The fillings include wool and cashmere which are both natural materials. The top and bottom are both quilted to ensure a comfortable night sleep.
This mattress also includes open coil springs that allow you to feel supported as you sleep. There are air vents included in the design that enhances the mattress' breathability and controls the airflow to prevent you from overheating. The handles on the sides allow you to easily rotate and flip your mattress. It is recommended that you do this once every 6 weeks to keep your mattress in a good shape.
When you buy this mattress from Happy Beds, you’ll get a 5-year guarantee. This is seen as a budget mattress and there is free shipping included to mainland UK, so if you are looking for a natural option but don’t want to spend a fortune, this might be an option for you.
Whether you want an organic mattress for health reasons or environmental ones (or both), there’s more to the decision-making process than a quick glance at the manufacturer’s label. If only it was that easy!Eco-Expert Rae-Ritchie
First, look for accreditation to back the claim to be organic – GOTS is one of the most common. Which materials are certified organic? Probably not all of them, so what percentage? What other materials have been used? Bear in mind that while organic cotton has less environmental impact than regular cotton, hemp and bamboo boast strong eco-credentials too.
Second, if sustainability is your motivation, consider whether organic is the best – or only – criteria to judge this by. Other certification schemes, including Fairtrade, can also indicate better-than-standard environmental practices. Likewise, durability is an important factor. The longer your mattress lasts, the lower its impact on the planet because it won’t need disposing of or replacing as quickly.
Mattress Material History
If we take a look back we can see that history has a way of repeating itself and, same as in fashion, trends return. The innerspring bed was invented in the 1870s by German Heinrich Westphal and although it took over 60 years for them to become popular, the metal springs are today one of the most common components in mattresses.
Back then, the spring mattresses were filled with natural materials such as wool, hay and down, not too different from the materials we can find in today’s organic and natural mattresses. However, as often happens, the trend changed and other materials entered the market.
John Boyd Dunlop started experimenting with latex together with scientist E.A. Murphy, trying to transform it into a foam. The story says that Murphy used his wife’s cake mixer to whip the latex into a foam. The first latex mattress was introduced to the market around 1930 and, fast-forwarding ninety years, Dunlop latex is today one of the most popular materials in natural and organic mattresses.
Latex was however not as cheap to produce as its latest competitor, the polyurethane foam, which quickly became very popular. NASA took it to the next level in 1970 when they developed a “slow spring back foam”, designed for crash protection and more comfortable seating for airlines. After releasing the technology around the 80’s it did not take long before the today known as memory foam mattress was born.
There was also an intense trend of water beds booming in the late 1980s but it was short-lived, likely due to the complexity of having to fill it up, or even worse, trying to move the bed. Not to mention the problems that could occur if there was a leak.
Mattress Materials Today
Now that we have covered the most recent history we can see that some trends have been coming and going, such as latex mattresses. Others, like water beds, seem to be gone (at least for now) but there is one material that has been very consistent since it was introduced on the market - the memory foam.
Given the low production cost and the many good qualities that it has, it is no surprise that this is such a popular material. Memory foam mattresses have changed the lives of many people suffering from back problems thanks to their pressure-relieving abilities and the cradling comfort they provide. But they do come with one, very large, exclamation point - they tend to contain a lot of chemicals that can sometimes be harmful both to humans and to the environment.
If you have ever purchased a memory foam mattress you may have noticed that your new mattress might smell a bit funky the first few days. This phenomenon is called “off-gassing” and occurs when the VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) break down. When coming into contact with air these compounds release an unpleasant smell that can sometimes worry people.
It’s worth noting that VOC’s are common in a wide array of products that most households have, such as non-stick pans, cleaning products, printers and furniture, and not something we need to be overly worried about. However, a study✓ shows that mattresses can emit higher levels of VOC during sleep, reaching concerning levels for children and infants.
This naturally makes people have reservations about spending a third of their lives breathing in these gasses that are commonly found in both the foam and the adhesives of the mattresses.
Do All Foam Mattresses Contain Harmful Chemicals?
Not all types of foam mattresses are bad for us. Many of the bigger mattress brands are certified by organisations such as CertiPUR-US that ensures that the foam does not contain any ozone depleters, heavy metals, dangerous flame retardants and that they have low VOC emissions (less than 0,5 parts per million).
Up And Coming Organic And Natural Mattress Materials
Although many people are aware that foam mattresses are not great for our health, they are still widely popular. But luckily for those who have sworn off memory foam, there are plenty of organic and natural mattress materials that are back in fashion, as well as new players on the field.
Our previously mentioned friend John Boyd Dunlop’s method is today one of the two standard methods of making latex foam. The scientist’s wife’s cake mixer has been upgraded but the theory is the same: infusing the latex with air and then baking it. This creates a more breathable foam than the rather compact polyurethane which tends to get warm at night.
The latex comes from the Hevea Brasiliensis tree, more commonly known as the rubber tree. These trees are tapped and the white, milky substance that is collected is the liquid latex that is later turned into latex mattresses. The other method is the Talalay method which is slightly more complex than the Dunlop method as the latex is being whipped, vacuum-sealed to expand, frozen quickly and then baked.
The difference between these two methods is that the Talalay latex is more breathable and fluffier, which makes for a great addition to the comfort layers in a mattress. The Dunlop latex is denser which makes it suitable for the base layers of the mattress, although many brands also use it for the comfort layers as it is also cheaper to produce than Talalay latex.
Other Materials In Organic Mattresses
Other materials that are frequently used in organic and natural mattresses are:
- Wool - A great, organic filling that is naturally fire retardant and has the ability to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
- Bamboo - Bamboo can be used in different ways in mattresses. It can give an incredibly smooth finish to covers, or enhance breathability when infusing foam with bamboo charcoal.
- Coir - This organic material, also known as coconut fibre, is becoming increasingly frequent in the support layers of organic mattresses. The fibres act as micro coils and are often used to substitute steel springs.
- Horsehair - Similar to the coconut fibre, the curled hairs give a springy feel and are great at wicking away moisture.
- Cotton - Commonly used in organic and natural mattress covers thanks to its breathability.
Did you know?
There are various studies✓ and research articles✓ pointing at the many benefits of organic cotton farming versus conventional cotton farming in countries like Turkey and India. However, due to the lack of financial support, the transition period between the two methods becomes a major obstacle.
What Is An Organic Natural Mattress?
Don’t be fooled by brands throwing the terms “organic” and “natural” around as if their life depended on it. A mattress that has an organic cotton cover does not automatically make it an organic mattress. It is important to look at the materials and their certifications to define how organic it actually is.
Some mattresses, such as spring mattresses, simply cannot be 100% organic as the steel springs are not something you can grow. That being said, don’t be discouraged, the rest of the materials could potentially be fully organic and the steel could be recycled or recyclable, making it a great mattress anyway.
Instead of buying into greenwashing, look for labels and certifications such as GOLS and GOTS that will ensure the quality of the materials used and make sure that as many components as possible are, in fact, organic. Another well known British organisation you can look for to ensure quality in your mattress is the Soil Association.
Some brands offer an old mattress disposal service to ensure that your previous mattress doesn't end up in a landfill when you buy your new one. Make sure to look for this when deciding on your new mattress.
Is My Organic Mattress Also Sustainable?
Not necessarily. While the materials in your mattress may be organically grown, meaning that no harmful chemicals have been used in the process, it does not mean that they have been sustainably sourced or that the mattress has been produced in a sustainable way. A sustainable mattress requires more boxes ticked than just containing organic materials, so in order to know if your mattress is sustainable, you need to look closely at the entire process.
Why Should I Get An Organic Mattress?
- Organic mattresses are generally hypoallergenic, anti-bacterial and dust-mite resistant, which is great for people prone to allergies or asthma.
- Organic mattresses often come with a higher breathability than for example memory foam mattresses which can help regulate temperature. This can make them a good option for hot sleepers.
- They are kinder to the environment compared to many other mattresses.
- Natural materials are often more durable than synthetic ones, meaning that you will enjoy your mattress for an even longer time.
The Downside To Organic Mattresses
There are not many negative things to say about organic mattresses but to name a few they can be a bit more expensive than standard mattresses and the options are more limited. Then again, if you do your research well and invest in a high-quality organic mattress it might last you for many years to come.
What is an organic mattress?
An organic mattress is a mattress made of materials that are organically grown, meaning that no pesticides or other harmful chemicals have been added to the process. Some examples of these materials are organic wool, cotton, latex, coconut fibre and horsehair.
Where to buy an organic mattress?
Not all brands offer organic mattress options but some do. Before trusting their word for it, make sure to look for accreditations that ensure that the materials used have, in fact, been organically grown.
Why getting an organic mattress?
An organic mattress is beneficial both for the sleeper as it contains natural materials that are often hypoallergenic and anti-bacterial, as well as for the environment due to the lack of harmful chemicals.