We spend approximately a third of our lifetime in bed sleeping. For that reason you want to make sure to get good quality sleep because it's the master control of our entire body’s system for healing and repair. You also want to do your best to keep your home as toxin-free as possible. Indoor toxins can be really dangerous. 3.8 million deaths are attributed to household air pollution annually, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to the EPA, thousands of products release invisible gasses, known as volatile organic compounds (or VOCs), which can cause all sorts of conditions such as eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, loss of coordination, and nausea. They can damage the central nervous system, liver and kidney, and some are known to cause cancer.
It's suspected that the polyurethane foam found in some mattresses is a source of VOC emissions. Made from ingredients derived from fossil fuels, polyurethane is highly combustible and therefore often treated with flame-retardants that have serious health and environmental impacts.
Start paying attention to these certification labels when buying anything textile or home related to make sure they are toxin-free and come from trustworthy and sustainable sources. There are more certifications but this is a good list to start with:
GOTS: The Global Organic Textile Standard is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.
MADE SAFE® is a nontoxic seal for products we use every day, from baby to personal care to household and beyond. They certify that products you use on your body and in your home are made with safe ingredients not known or suspected to harm human health.
Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX labels and certificates confirm that every component of the article, i.e. every thread, button and other accessories, has been tested for harmful substances and that the article therefore is harmless in human ecological terms. In other words, it's free from allergenic dyes, pesticides, chlorinated phenols, heavy metals, formaldehyde, and chloro-organic carriers, and are not harmful to the skin.
GOLS ORGANIC CERTIFIED: The Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) ensures that products contain more than 95% of certified organic raw material based on total weight. The GOLS standard features permissible limits for harmful substances, emissions test requirements, and polymer and filler percentages.
FSC CERTIFIED: The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification is considered the "gold standard" designation for wood harvested from forests that are responsibly managed, socially beneficial, environmentally conscious, and economically viable.
GREENGUARD Gold Certification are scientifically proven to meet some of the world's most rigorous, third-party chemical emissions standards for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as formaldehyde or phthalates.
The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is a global not-for-profit organization and the largest cotton sustainability program in the world. GOTS is a higher standard, but BCI still makes global cotton production better for the people who produce it and better for the environment it grows with guidelines for production using less pesticides and water.
When it comes to mattresses you want to look for naturally non-toxic and 100% certified organic materials and polyurethane foam free. It really can't be a health hazard where you lay your body down and breathe in volatile organic compound (VOCs) while you sleep every night.
Beware of 'green washing' when buying a mattress. If they don't have any of the certifications labels above you can't be certain, no matter how 'green' the brand professes to be. GOLS ORGANIC CERTIFIED, GOTS - The Global Organic Textile Standard and OEKO-TEX labels and certificates will be your best guides.
A mattress is an investment and if you currently not in the market for a new one, you can start to make smaller changes such as getting a mattress topper that is made from naturally non-toxic and 100% certified organic materials. I love toppers, it's like sleeping on a cloud. Or start with non-toxic organic sheets (in section below).
Look for non-toxic pillows made of 100% certified organic materials, after-all you put your head down onto these things with your nose right on it. Avocado, My Green Mattress, Naturepedic and Saatva carry bedding, so you can get them right there.
Look for 100% organic sustainable sheets that have at least one of the certification labels mentioned above. GOTS, The Global Organic Textile Standard is your North Star here. There are many companies with great sustainable options to choose from. All of the companies we have introduced above sell sheets, too.
I have been trying to get my hands on Fair Trade Certified SOL Organics queen size sheets but they have been sold out the last time I checked. Another company that uses earth-friendly fabrics and manufacturing methods to create more sustainable products, from first sketch to last stitch and beyond is Buffy. Their sheets are made of eucalyptus fabric, which supposedly is more breathable than cotton and softer than linen. They also sell hemp sheets.
Another company that sells non-toxic hemp sheets is Delilah Home. Hemp is biodegradable and requires about half the amount of water than cotton to grow.
RECYCLE YOUR MATTRESS
According to Mattress Recycling Council more than 50,000 mattresses are discarded in the U.S. every day, most of them illegally and they end up in a landfill. More than 80% of a mattress can be recycled into new consumer and industrial products. With your help less will end up in a landfill and therefor are diverted from the waste stream.
You can find your closest recycling facility at Bye Bye Mattress.