We all know that getting enough high-quality sleep can improve our personal health. But can it also improve the health of the planet?
With a little attention to detail in your bedding, the answer is yes. Here’s how you can “sleep green” on an all-natural mattress, helping yourself and your planet at the same time.
All-Natural Latex Foam
Latex is a natural botanical product secreted in the plant Hevea brasiliensis—the rubber tree plant. Harvested much as maple syrup is harvested from maple trees, latex can be sustainably extracted from the same plant for 50 years or more without harming the rubber tree’s health.
- In the last few years, latex has emerged as an industry leader in all-natural, healthy bedding. When you act as a discerning consumer to be sure you’re getting the best possible product, you can buy a mattress that’s sustainably harvested, responsibly produced, and long-lasting enough to make a significant impact on the number of mattresses you’ll send to the landfill in your lifetime. Here’s how.
A Latex Mattress Is:
- Anti-microbial and hypo-allergenic. The open cellular structure and natural rubber-like characteristics of latex foam deter dust mites and other allergen-causing microbes from inhabiting a latex mattress. The process that creates latex foam from liquid latex removes most of the proteins that cause allergic reactions in medical latex (think latex gloves), so even those with latex allergies or sensitivities can usually sleep on latex foam.
- All Natural. A latex mattress that contains no synthetic latex and no chemical glues or dyes can be an all-natural bedding choice. You must be a discerning consumer to separate these 100% natural beds from options made using blended synthetic and natural latex, or hybrid options that may contain everything from memory foam to inner springs, but it is possible to find an all-natural bed.
- Potentially organic. When you find the right manufacturer, you can buy a mattress that is made using latex extracted from organically produced rubber tree plants; manufactured without the use of petrochemicals, chemical glues, or dyes; and covered in an organic flame retardant barrier such as organic wool. These fully organic mattresses are easy on the planet and your sleeping body.
- Long lasting. When you choose a latex bed that has a 10+ or 20+ year warranty, you’ll be getting an excellent value. Though latex mattresses can cost extra up front, they will last much longer than most other mattress types (including inner spring mattresses, high-end air mattresses, water beds, and others). You’ll get the best value for your money, and keep those shorter-term mattresses from winding up in the landfill.
Getting the right “green” latex mattress depends on your budget and your ethical concerns:
- To be sure you’re getting a truly all natural mattress, look for options that are “100% all-natural latex” or “100% botanical latex”.
- To ensure that your mattress has the lowest possible carbon footprint, look for a company that produces their mattresses at the same site where the latex is harvested to minimize travel. Or go a step further and order online from a producer—not a “middleman” reseller—that keeps a warehouse at or near the harvest/production site.
- If you want an organic mattress, don’t be taken in just because you see an “organic” label—that may simply mean that the liquid latex was sustainably harvested before petrochemicals were added in processing or the addition of a chemical-based flame-retardant layer. Ask about the production of your mattress from start to finish to be sure your mattress really is organic.
- To be sure your mattress is long-lasting, look for a 20+ year warranty.
“Green sleep” on a latex mattress may help you sleep soundly on multiple levels. With a clear conscience resting on the body-contouring soft support of buoyant natural latex, you may just get the best night’s sleep you’ve ever had.
Photo by Mazzali