Takeaway cups, toothbrushes and clothes - we all own something that has been made sustainably. But do you have a sustainable mattress?
We are all becoming more and more conscious about the problematic situation that we find ourselves in, which is backed by a market analysis report suggesting that consumers have shown a growing preference for items that are made with long-lasting durability and sustainability. As our natural resources are quickly becoming exhausted more attention is being allocated to these areas. A scientometric review✓ shows that research on carbon emissions is becoming more frequently published, especially in China, the United States and England.
Sustainability is a very hot topic and the term is thrown around in most industries together with great statements about having to act before it is too late. The bedding industry is no different and many brands claim that their mattresses are eco-friendly, organic, recyclable, natural and green. But using green materials does not make a mattress brand fully sustainable, it takes more than that.
The production process, packaging, transportation, material sourcing and the disposal of old mattresses also play an important part in the sustainability cycle. Up to 7,5 million mattresses end up in landfills each year in the UK alone according to The Furniture Recycling Group (TFR).
(Important Facts, Studies, Advice, Considerations & FAQs In Conclusion)
|Hypnos Cotton Origins 6
|Hand-built production focused on low-carbon solutions. Using 100% natural and recyclable fibres.
Cotton: Partly through bettercotton.org, partly N/A
|Carbon neutral and 100% recyclable. Made with sugar cane ethanol.
|Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development. The planet Mark Carbon Neutral certification.
|Over 10 years Carbon neutral Offsets all emissions through programs, planting trees, working with local schools and conservation groups.
|Planting trees in the UK and the Amazon. Providing clean water in Uganda.
|Una Organic Mattress Delux
|Using 100% organic and recyclable materials.
|100% recyclable cardboard boxes and regular plastic bags.
|GOLS (latex), GOTS (cotton and wool),
Control Union Fair Choice (fair trading), 1% For the Planet member
|The Hevea trees planted at their latex farm offsets the CO2 emissions from production and transport.
|Planting trees with Treesister.org and donating 1% of all sales to 1% For the planet
|Snoozel Green Mattress
|Handmade in Sri Lanka at a sustainable and fair-trade factory that is carbon neutral. Their steel springs are made from recycled steel.
|Latex: Sri Lanka
|Fully recyclable cardboard and plastic.
|GOTS (wool/cotton), GOLS (latex), FCS certification (rubber tree plantation)
|Fuels the factory using the rubber trees after their productive life is over making it virtually carbon neutral
|Plating 10 trees for every mattress sold with Trees For The Future.
|Silentnight Eco Comfort Breathe
|Handmade in the UK and made with 100% recyclable plastic bottles.
|Members of Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), Furniture Makers’ Company Sustainability Award for 2017
|Fully offsetting their carbon emissions through renewable energy projects and energy efficiency projects.
|Collaborating with Marine Conservation Society to protect the seas.
|Nectar Memory Foam Mattress
|Currently offsetting 100% of the emissions from their mattress production.
|The main materials used in the product (foam): UK
|The mattress is packaged in an LDPE mattress bag containing 40% recycled material.
The box is made from FSC certified cardboard containing 60% recycled material
FCS Approved packaging
|Fully carbon neutral thanks to their work with ClimatePartner to reduce CO2 and offset what is left through social projects.
|Forest Protection initiative in Santa Maria, Brazil, British Heart Foundation, AnyJunk
|Hand-crafted in Wales.
|Fully recyclable or biodegradable materials.
|GOTS (wool/cotton), GOLS (latex), FCS (timber), Soil Association (sustainable farming, textile, forestry etc.)
|Low carbon footprint thanks to hand-crafting their mattresses and grouping deliveries together to be as efficient as possible.
|Donates raw materials to Botanic Garden of Wales and supports the local school and rugby team.
|Handmade in the UK with mostly biodegradable materials.
|Their mission is to minimise the carbon footprint. Collaborates with The Furniture Recycling Group to recycle your old mattress.
|Hand-crafted in the UK. Using materials from renewable and sustainable sources.
1. Hypnos Cotton Origins 6 Mattress
|• Wool from sustainable and fair farming
• 100% recyclable and made with natural fibres
• Pocket-sprung for added support
|• Sleepers who enjoy a pocket-sprung mattress
• People prone to allergies
• People looking for added edge support
The family-run company Hypnos has more than 100 years of experience in bed making and has been showered in awards over the years. One of the many titles that they hold is the one of being the only brand winning "Best bed manufacturer of the year" three times. They have also been awarded two royal warrants by Queen Elizabeth for International Trade, and even more interestingly, Sustainable Development.
The brand has implemented a long series of measures to their entire bed-making process and has now been carbon neutral for over a decade. Their products are fully recyclable and made with 100% natural and sustainable fibres. Their Origins collection features Red Tractor traceable British Wool, ensuring sustainable and fair farming, as well as layers of soft, sustainably sourced cotton.
A system of 6-turn pocket springs makes a supportive core of the mattress and it is finally hand-tufted and hand-stitched for an added comfort and support. The Cotton Origins 6 mattress stands at 26 cm tall and features Triple-Edge support to ensure the longevity of the mattress.
2. Una Organic Mattress Delux
|• Practical and sustainable mattress-in-a-box
• Organic latex foam with 7 zones
• Regulable firmness
|• Hot sleepers
• Couples, as you can combine two firmness ratings
• Most sleeping positions
A bed-in-a-box is a mattress that is rolled up and delivered in a box and they are becoming increasingly popular thanks to their practicality. However, what is also common knowledge is the fact that most mattresses that come in a box are foam mattresses, often full of fire retardant chemicals and other environmentally harmful materials. Una decided to create a high-quality mattress made of latex, organic cotton and wool that can be easily delivered in a handy box.
The Deluxe mattress features 4 organic latex foam layers with different firmness levels (soft, medium and firm) which can easily be rearranged as per your firmness preferences. Each layer has 7 different comfort zones, designed to contour your body slightly and ensure maximum alignment while sleeping. The cover is made of 100% organic cotton and wool, which promotes breathability and helps to wick away moisture from the sleeper.
Certifications like GOLS and GOTS, among others, speak for the quality materials in this mattress which is suitable for most sleeping positions. It is 100% biodegradable, recyclable and carbon neutral. The Una Organic Mattress Delux stands at 24 cm tall and comes with a 100-night trial for you to try it out before deciding, as well as a 10-year guarantee for your peace of mind.
Una also donates to reforestation initiatives such as treesister.org and states that the trees, from which they tap their sap, absorb more carbon dioxide than their production and transportation produce.
3. Snoozel Green Eco Mattress
|• Contains 100% natural, tree-tapped latex
• Handmade in a fair-trade factory
• 10 trees planted for every sold mattress
|• Sleepers needing pressure-relief
• People prone to allergies
• Sleepers who enjoy sprung mattresses
When it comes to transparency, Snoozel Green is certainly up there. Their website explains in a clear and concise manner how they produce their mattresses, from where they source their materials and what measures they take to be as sustainable as they can be. The Snoozel Green mattress is made up of a base of individually wrapped pocket springs that are surrounded by a layer of 100% natural latex, providing edge-to-edge reinforcement.
On top is another 5 cm layer of 100% natural, tree-tapped latex that provides a breathable and slightly contouring sleeping surface that can help relieve the pressure off your body parts. Next is an organic wool layer that is naturally thermoregulating and helps leading moisture away from your body. This sustainable mattress is completed by a GOTS certified cotton layer that is hypoallergenic and breathable for your comfort.
The Snoozel Green mattress is handmade in Sri Lanka at a sustainable and fair-trade factory that is carbon neutral and certified by several known organizations, such as OEKO-TEX, TUV, GOTS and GOLS among others. Its materials are sourced in and around Sri Lanka and India and 10 trees are being planted for each sold mattress in collaboration with Trees For The Future.
4. Silentnight Eco Comfort Breathe Pocket 2000
|• Comes in 3 different firmness ratings
• Made with recycled plastic bottles
• Breathable and cool mattress
|• Most sleepers and sleeping positions
• People looking to buy from a carbon-neutral brand
• Sleepers who tend to overheat
The Silentnight Eco Comfort Breathe Pocket 2000 features the brand's own Microclimate sleep system that combines three layers of fibre technology designed to enhance breathability and comfort. The system is meant to wick away moisture from your body while creating a cool sleeping surface. This, in combination with 2000 individually wrapped pocket springs for full support, makes this mattress very popular.
What makes this mattress even more interesting is the fact that 150 recycled plastic bottles go into its production. Silentnight works together with the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) by supporting them both financially and by participating in their initiatives such as beach cleanups and similar activities.
The brand has also achieved independent validation as a carbon-neutral company, meaning that through their projects within renewable energy and energy efficiency, they offset the amount of carbon dioxide that they emit. Silentnight also works towards diverting waste from landfills and recycle it in order to reduce the harmful toxins being released.
They even have their own mattress disposal service that strips the mattresses back, melts the metal from the springs and reuses both the foam and fillings for other purposes. Furthermore, they work with a fleet management tool in order to reduce their diesel consumption.
5. Nectar Memory Foam Mattress
|• CertiPUR certified memory foam
• No metal mattress
• 365-day trial and forever warranty
|• Sleepers needing pressure relief
• Most sleeping positions
• People who enjoy a "hugging" sensation
The Nectar Memory Foam Mattress is widely known and extremely popular if you look at the thousands of happy customer reviews. But apart from being very comfortable and suitable for most sleepers, it is also a very sustainably produced mattress. Nectar is working together with ClimatePartner to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions and on offsetting what is left, and today their mattress is considered a carbon-neutral product.
The mattress features CertiPUR certified memory foam, which means it is free from harmful dyes and heavy metals. The three layers of foam underneath the quilted cover are designed to enhance breathability, providing support and pressure relief. It has a medium firmness rating, suiting most sleepers and comes with a 365-day trial and a forever warranty so that you don't need to unsustainably upgrade your mattress every few years.
Nectar supports the Forest Protection initiative in Santa Maria, Brazil as well as other local organizations, such as the British Heart Foundation, to which they donate old mattresses and help to raise funds. They also work together with AnyJunk offering disposal of your old mattress, making sure it is properly recycled and not ending up in the landfill.
6. Abaca Newgale Mattress
|• Fully organic and sustainably made mattress
• No metal springs
|• People looking to buy a 100% handmade mattress
• People who enjoy medium firmness
• Hot sleepers
The Abaca mattresses come at a rather steep price point but looking closer at their products there seems to be a logical explanation behind their prices. The company is accredited by a number of certifications like GOTS, GOLS, Forest Stewardship Council and the Soil Association. All of these speak for their high-quality materials and commitment to the environment. All of their mattresses are organic and made with reusable or biodegradable materials, but their most sustainably made mattress is the Newgale Mattress.
Newgale is made of layer upon layer of washed and carded Welsh organic wool wrapped in an organic cotton cover. It is 100% handmade and Abaca offers a service where they re-cover or re-stuff your mattress if needed. The mattress has a medium firmness, so if you prefer something more springy there are other mattresses available that contain horsehair or coir which give a bit more stability.
Abaca has been located in Wales since the start of the company and uses very little machinery which makes their carbon emissions quite low compared to other brands. They also include a very personalised customer service which the customers seem to enjoy if you look at their reviews.
7. Ely Mattress
|• 13 layers for maximum comfort
• Handles for easy flipping
• Sturdy core for edge-to-edge support
|• All sleeping positions
• Hot sleepers
• People who toss and turn at night
The Ely Mattress comes with an impressive 13-layer design. Starting from the core and working ourselves outwards, with both sides looking the exact same, we find 1000 ActiveEdge perimeter performance pocket springs. These are designed to give the mattress a sturdy middle and to provide support across the entire mattress. Next comes 2000 tablet pocket springs (per side) for further support and a springy feel.
Continuing outwards come four more layers including cotton, horsehair, wool, silk, cashmere and fine Dorset wool. All in all this mattress contains lots of natural material and no chemically stuffed foam or other harmful materials to the sleeper or the environment. Soft woollen tufts help to keep the natural fillings in place and the mattress comes with handles on the side so that you can comfortably flip it.
Ely's products are handmade in the UK and feature multiple natural and 100% biodegradable materials. They come with a 30-day trial period and you can also register for a 10-year warranty. Furthermore, Ely offers a mattress removal service carried out by The Furniture Recycling Group who will carefully strip back the mattress and recycle all its components to prevent them from ending up in the landfill.
8. Naturalmat Lambswool Mattress
|• Handmade in the UK
• High breathability
• All natural materials
|• Hot sleepers
• People who dislike metal in their mattresses
• Sleepers looking to support local businesses
Naturalmat is a Devon based company dedicated to producing organic and sustainable mattresses for both individual customers and hotels. The main material in their range of mattresses is coconut fibre, also known as coir. They have opted for this natural material thanks to its high breathability and the amount of support that is provided by the strands of coconut fibre, acting as tiny micro coils at the core of their mattresses.
They also use organic lambswool, latex and cotton, sourcing several of these materials sustainably from within a fifty-mile radius of their factory that produces its own electricity. All the mattresses are handmade as the brand believes that they have much better control over quality when not relying on fancy machinery, but rather on craftsmanship.
Their popular Lambswool mattress is made of a thick layer of coir together with a thinner layer of natural latex and finished off with a layer of lambswool under a wool and herringbone cotton cover. The mattress stands at 21 cm tall and complies with British safety standards. It is fully chemical-free and breathable and comes with a five-year warranty.
Whenever you’re trying to judge the sustainability credentials of a product, it’s helpful to think about its whole lifecycle. What’s it made of – and where? How is it transported? What packaging materials are used? How long should it last – and can it be disposed of responsibly when that time comes?Eco-Expert Rae-Ritchie
These questions are particularly important when it comes to buying big ticket items such as a mattress. Thinking about your values and priorities will help guide your decision too. What’s more important to you, organic materials or recycled ones? Supporting UK manufacturing or providing livelihoods elsewhere in the world? There are no right or wrong answers; some people value lambswool as a natural fibre but many vegans would avoid it.
Don’t forget that the mattress must also suit your needs in terms of comfort, level of support and any allergies. However good the green credentials, no mattress is a sustainable choice if you have to replace it before the end of its lifespan because it’s not right for you.
What Is Sustainability?
When talking about sustainability we are not (only) talking about reducing plastics or recycling used products. Sustainability involves the entire cycle, 360 degrees. If we really break it down, it means "the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level". To claim that a product is made in a sustainable manner we must ask ourselves: What are we doing to ensure being able to keep spending our resources at this rate? What do we do to replace them with new resources?
Ensuring a sustainable future is up to each and every one of us. We know that. We can all do our small, daily part in this fight against the clock, and we should. But the biggest difference can be made by the biggest players, which is why it is so important that we all do what we can to lift the companies that actually do work towards a better tomorrow.
How Can I Be More Sustainable?
It is easy to get caught up in sustainable fashion, cutting down on our meat consumption and skipping the plastic bags when buying fruits and vegetables. These are all great initiatives, but there are so many more areas where we also need to start thinking sustainably and a good place to start with is our sleeping space.
Buying two mattresses made of sustainably sourced materials from a great manufacturer within ten years is not considered sustainable behaviour. Most high-quality mattresses today are made to last for at least ten years, some even up to a lifetime. Make sure to invest in one that comes with at least a ten-year warranty, and of course, keep your mattress clean and it will last you for many years to come.
Is My Mattress Sustainable?
When looking to purchase a new mattress there are a few things you should check off your sustainability checklist:
- Material sourcing
- Manufacturing process
- Check for greenwashing and certifications
We will go into more depth on a few of these points and there are always more things that can be done to ensure that the mattress you have your eyes on is sustainable. However, these are the basics that should be checked before making your decision.
Do's And Dont's When Looking For A Sustainable Mattress
|✓ Your research. Look for a mattress with the highest possible percentage of natural, organic materials.
|✗ Buy a mattress made of unregulated polyurethane or other foams that emits VOCs.
|✓ Check what the brand does to reduce and offset its carbon footprints.
|✗ Trust branding saying "Eco-friendly", "green" or similar without double-checking. They may be greenwashing.
|✓ Look for certifications like GOTS, GOLS, CertiPUR-US and Oeko-Tex Standard 100 to assure quality.
|✗ Buy a mattress that contains glue. Glue can also emit VOCs that are harmful to your health.
|✓ Select the option for old mattress removal if your new mattress manufacturer offers it (and make sure they will recycle it too)
|✗ Leave your mattress in the landfill. There are plenty of recycling options available.
Commonly Used Materials In Sustainable Mattresses
Make sure to have a look at the materials used in your mattress. Are they natural? Have they maybe been recycled? A sustainable mattress brand should be able to tell you, in a transparent and simple way, how they have sourced their materials. They should work actively towards fair conditions for their workers and, to their best ability, use locally sourced materials. Little does it help using 100% natural alpaca wool from a fair-trade farm in Peru, if it is flown across the world to be used in the UK and tons of carbon dioxide are being emitted in the process.
Coir - Coconut Fibre
An interesting and fully natural material sometimes seen in sustainable mattresses is coir or coconut fibre. It is the natural fibres that are found between the hard shell and the outer coat on coconuts. This is processed over time with water and later woven together into a layer that is supportive enough to replace for example metal springs at the core of the mattress.
Horsehair is commonly used by sustainable mattress brands as a filling. The hairs are very strong and when curled they get very springy and can act as a layer of millions of micro springs, giving a natural bounce to the mattress. Another positive feature of horsehair is its ability to efficiently transport moisture away from your body. In fact, if you soak horsehair in water and then give it a good shake it will dry up almost instantly. It is also highly breathable as well as anti-bacterial and anti-fungal which makes it a great addition to your mattress.
If you are looking for natural, temperature-regulating materials in your sustainable mattress, wool is a great option. There are many types of wool present in mattresses, such as merino sheep wool and alpaca wool among others. Wool is known to be great at regulating temperature, as it wicks away moisture in the summer, yet keeps you warm during cooler nights.
A study✓ shows that wool can be very helpful against pain caused by fibromyalgia. The participants of the study showed a great improvement in their pain score after adding wool to their bedding cover, mattresses and cushions.
The density of wool can also make it act as a natural fire retardant. The dense wool environment in a mattress lacks oxygen, which means that if it was to be set on fire the flame would not have much oxygen and could possibly self-extinguish. This makes it a great substitute for chemicals that are often present in the mandatory fire-retardant layers of many mattresses.
Latex mattresses are very popular. Latex is a great, natural resource that is especially suitable for people who tend to get hot during the night. Thanks to the presence of thousands of tiny air cells, the material helps you regulate your body temperature and prevent you from overheating. It is also suitable for people suffering from allergies or asthma as it is resistant to bacteria and dust mites.
Did you know?
According to EWG, foam that contains latex is more durable than foam that contains petroleum.
Natural latex is made by the sap from the Hevea Brasiliensis tree, also known as the Amazonian rubber tree. The sap is a milky substance that is extracted from the bark of the tree by tapping it. The Hevea trees absorb great amounts of carbon dioxide which makes this tree a perfectly sustainable resource. Since many trees need to be tapped in order to produce an organic latex mattress, many Hevea trees are being planted. This leads to cleaner air, more jobs created and a sustainable process is set in motion.
The liquid latex is mixed with other natural materials which are needed in order to transform it into a solid mass. It gets pumped with compressed air which makes it foam-like and then it is baked. The final product is a long-lasting, cushioning material that makes for a great substitute for chemically packed memory foam mattress cores. A smaller amount of graphite is often added to the latex to act as a natural fire retardant and make the product safer.
Studies✓ show that amides and other VOCs found in some mattress textiles can be directly harmful to children's health. If your new mattress smells strange, check out our guide on new mattress smell.
Sustainable Packaging And Transportation
Two other important aspects to take into consideration when doing your sustainability research is how transparent the brand is when it comes to its packaging and transportation. Too many brands still call themselves sustainable and ship their mattresses around the globe, wrapped in tons of plastic.
It is not an easy task for a brand to ensure that its packaging is environmentally friendly and it is certainly not always cost-efficient. But there are however brands on the market that uses resources such as sugar cane ethanol in combination with recycled plastic. Together they make a green polyethylene which is 100% recyclable, as well as carbon neutral as the ethanol is derived from sugar cane, a renewable and carbon dioxide depleting resource.
The shipping of products is arguably the most difficult part of the entire cycle to keep sustainable. Around 11 billion tons of products are being shipped by sea each year according to the International Chamber of Shipping. The brands that sell their mattresses across the world are bound to emit quite some carbon dioxide in the process. However, there is an increasing trend for electrification and hybridization in both commercial and military vessels, but studies✓ show that it is not an issue-free process.
There are also smart fleet-management tools that can help calculate the best routes, avoid peak hours and optimize deliveries. Look out for any of these things when doing your research and you will see which companies stand out a bit extra. And if the brand is not very transparent about their transportation emissions, chances are that they are pretty high. Ask them what they do to offset these.
Sustainability When It Comes To Mattresses With Trials
Another aspect to consider is the brands offering mattresses with a trial period and the increased emissions that come with transporting mattresses back and forth more than once. According to an article for NPR, between 12-14% of the mattress with a trial period are sent back to the well-known mattress brand in the US and we can assume that the numbers are similar in the UK.
What Is Greenwashing?
The term greenwashing refers to when a company or a brand goes to great lengths and spend lots of money to convince the consumers that their product or service is green (eco-friendly) when they are in fact not. Instead of investing their money into actually making changes in their processes and materials used, they spend it on false advertisement that makes them look more environmentally friendly.
Common Certifications And Organisations
If you are unsure about whether or not a brand is greenwashing their mattresses or other products, check for any certifications that they might have. Generally, when a brand is certified by independent organizations it means that they are a quality brand and that has gone through thorough testings to meet certain standards. However, having a certification for organic fibres does not make the entire mattress sustainable. Make sure to do your research.
Some trusted certifications for high-quality, eco-friendly and non-harmful materials are:
- Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) - The product needs to contain between 70-95% of natural fibres and the production process has to comply with certain environmental standards.
- Oeko-Tex Standard 100 - Accredited to textile products that don't contain any harmful substances to humans.
- Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) - Ensures that at least 95% of the latex used in a product is organic and obtained from a certified organic grove.
- CertiPUR-US - Accreditation for foam products that don't contain any harmful chemicals and meets the criteria for VOC emissions.
- ClimatePartner - Helps companies reduce their carbon emissions and becoming more sustainable.
- Forest Stewardship Council - Promotes environmentally responsible forest management.
- Soil Association - British charity that works towards healthy and sustainable farming, food and land-use
- Red Tractor - UK's biggest farm and food standard scheme, ensuring animal welfare, food safety, traceability and environmental protection.
- British Wool - Owned by sheep farmers in the UK and assuring quality wool.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a mattress be sustainable?
If the brand produces the mattress in a sustainable manner, with natural and organic materials, source the majority of their materials locally and offset its carbon footprint through climate-friendly actions their products can be considered sustainable.
Where can I find sustainable mattresses?
Not all brands can offer a fully sustainable mattress but some can. Make sure to look for certifications that assure high-quality, organic materials and sustainable trade. Don't buy into greenwashing.
How do I know if my mattress is sustainable?
The best thing you can do is to ask your retailer or manufacturer about their sustainability measures. If they respond in a transparent and simple way, chances are that your mattress is sustainable.