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Latex mattresses have grown in popularity in recent years due to their numerous sleep-related benefits. Natural latex mattresses, in particular, are known to be biodegradable, or what many manufacturers simply refer to as eco-friendly. In today's world, manufacturers are beginning to embrace environmentally-friendly ways of production, and the mattress industry hasn't been left out. So, now more than ever, it's important to find out whether the mattresses in your bedroom will be harmful to your environment when it's finally time to let it go.

Unfortunately, you may end up buying a non-biodegradable mattress if you don't know what to look for while shopping for one. For this reason, here's everything you need to know about biodegradable mattresses.

Biodegradable Defined

In simple terms, biodegradable material can be broken down by microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria to prevent environmental pollution. Examples of biodegradable materials include food, plant, human, and animal waste.

However, people rarely associate these materials with products such as clothes, shoes, or mattresses. The truth is, any product made from biodegradable materials, including a latex mattress, is capable of breaking down over time, or when disposed back to the planet.

What is a Biodegradable Mattress?

When you finally get rid of your old mattress, chances are that it'll end up in a landfill somewhere in the country. And, if the mattress isn't biodegradable, there's no doubt that it'll be part of the items that gradually destroy the planet. Such mattresses are often made with toxic chemicals, dyes, glues, foams, and other harmful materials.

On the other hand, a biodegradable mattress decomposes when exposed to microorganisms, and goes back into the planet in its most natural form. These mattresses are made from plant-based foams such as natural latex, cotton, and bamboo. However, natural latex mattresses are the most available biodegradable mattresses in the market today.

How is Natural Latex Harvested?

Natural latex is the milky white sap found in the rubber plant. Although there are several latex-producing plants, the Hevea brasiliensis rubber tree native to the Amazon is commercially grown for its rubber extract.

Natural latex is harvested by slitting a wedged cut on the bark of the rubber tree. The milky sap that oozes out of the cut is then tapped into a cup attached to the tree. The cup collects the sap for about an hour or so, fetching approximately 56 ounces.

Later, after the cut dries out, the harvest is collected from the cup. The tree is then left unharvested for a day, naturally forming more of the milky sap during the 'rest period.'

The harvested sap undergoes several processes to convert it into different forms of rubber, including the natural latex foam used to make latex mattresses.

Hevea brasiliensis plants are often ready for harvesting after six years, and can continue yielding for 30 years, producing about 19 pounds of rubber annually.

What's The Difference Between Natural Latex and Organic Latex?

Natural latex shouldn't be confused with organic latex, even though both types of latex are harvested from rubber trees. Organic latex is natural latex, but natural latex is not organic. Unfortunately, these two words often confuse sleepers when they go out shopping for a new latex mattress.

Natural latex is the milky sap harvested from rubber trees. The major differences between natural and organic latex derive from two factors: how the trees are grown, and the processing method used to convert the sap into latex mattress foams.

For natural latex to be classified as organic latex, the trees have to be organically grown, without using any growth-enhancing chemicals or harmful pesticides. The harvested sap is also processed without any toxic chemical fillers. Additionally, these processes are usually monitored by quality regulating agencies to ensure no impurities are added to the 100% natural latex.

On the other hand, rubber trees planted and nurtured using inorganic pesticides and harmful chemicals introduce impurities into the naturally harvested latex. Additionally, if chemical fillers are used during processing (Talalay method), the latex loses its purity, hence is no longer considered organic.

Are Natural Latex Mattresses Environmentally Friendly?

Yes, natural latex mattresses are environmentally friendly.

Unfortunately, mattresses are increasingly becoming a waste management problem, especially because most of the mattresses in the market today aren't eco-friendly. Instead, they consist of harmful non-recyclable and non-renewable materials that find their way into the planet via overflowing landfills.

Conversely, 100% natural latex mattresses are sustainable, given that they derive from plant-based foam. They have a lifespan of between 10 and 20 years, after which they naturally begin to break down. Even if they end up in a landfill, these mattresses will eventually degrade into the planet in a safe and environmentally-friendly manner.

However, landfills are no longer the befitting destinations for old mattresses. For this reason, many sleepers are now considering other useful ways of recycling old mattresses, such as converting them into animal beds. Organizations such as Mattress Recycling Council are dedicated to educating sleepers on the best ways of recycling their old mattresses, rather than sending them to landfills.

Why are Biodegradable Mattresses Important?

Biodegradable mattresses have several advantages to sleepers and the environment as well. Some of these advantages include:

  • Sleepers enjoy a comfortable non-toxic sleep
  • Lower risk of allergies
  • No awful off-gassing odors
  • Safe to dispose of
  • Offers several recycling options

Why Buy a Biodegradable Mattress?

If you'd like to make your new mattress worth the investment, you should consider buying a biodegradable mattress. Aside from its environmental advantages, there are several reasons why a biodegradable mattress is always a better choice.

For example, there are only a few options available for these kinds of mattresses in the market today. Natural latex mattresses are the most popular biodegradable mattresses, which come with several other advantages, such as durability and breathability. Because of these advantages, there's a surge in demand for such mattresses.

This change in consumer preference means increased demand, boosting the production of natural latex mattresses.

The change in consumer preferences and the growing competition in the market could also lead to a reduction in prices to meet the demands of consumers. In addition, mattress manufacturers will become more innovative with their products, creating a chain of new sustainable and eco-friendly mattresses.

By buying a biodegradable mattress, you're actively contributing towards preserving the environment for the sake of the future generation. Additionally, heightened campaigns against toxic chemicals and harmful substances in mattresses could trigger changes in laws and regulations requiring manufacturers to adhere to new quality standards for producing mattresses.

Lastly, buying a biodegradable mattress guarantees all the benefits of non-toxic sleep, improving your health in the process.

What to Look for When Buying a Biodegradable Mattress?

Finding the right biodegradable mattress goes beyond the materials it's made of. Instead, it's advisable to consider the processes involved in making the mattress, including certifications, shipping methods, packaging, among other factors.

Here's what to consider when looking for a biodegradable mattress, such as a 100% natural latex mattress:

Materials Used

As mentioned earlier, some toxins may be introduced into the natural latex during farming, all the way to harvesting. Just because the manufacturer claims that their mattress is natural doesn't necessarily mean that it's toxins-free.

Manufacturing Process

Natural latex can also be altered when chemical fillers are introduced into its liquid form during the Talalay and/or Dunlop manufacturing process. This is common with the Talalay latex manufacturing process, resulting in a softer latex foam than the traditional Dunlop latex manufacturing process. However, the chemicals added to the liquid rubber to stabilize and cure it may be toxic to some sleepers and the environment as well.

Recyclability

You don't want your mattress to end up in a landfill because you can't repurpose it. For this reason, always opt for a mattress that's recyclable when it's time to get rid of it.

Durability

Buying a durable mattress means you won't need a new one in a few months. As a result, you'll contribute to reducing the number of mattresses that end up in landfills, destroying the planet in the process.

How Do You Know You Are Buying a Biodegradable Mattress?

Environmentally-conscious mattress companies do all it takes to ensure that their products meet the right quality standards before being accredited. However, some companies claim to have met such standards, but that's not always the case.

Several quality assurance and certification agencies verify mattresses after thoroughly assessing the manufacturer's practices and production quality.

Some of these agencies include:

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

GOTS certification verifies organic cotton used by many manufactures for creating the cushioning layer of a mattress. There are specific standard guidelines that these manufacturers must abide by before certification. Examples include having a certain percentage of organic cotton in their products, and using limited amounts of chemicals if necessary.

GreenGuard Gold Certification

Greenguard Gold Certification ensures that products emit very low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) gasses. For such products to achieve this certification, there needs to be a continuous review process throughout their manufacturing to ensure that the VOCs don't exceed the preset levels.

OEKO-Tex Certification

This certification watches out for harmful chemical substances used in manufacturing mattresses. In addition, the mattresses must pass a specific test confirming that no harmful chemicals exist in the mattresses.

Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS)

This certification is specifically for natural latex products, such as latex mattresses. A natural latex mattress with this certification only comprises natural latex and other approved products such as organic cotton. GOLS is also a nationally recognized certification agency.

What is Mattress Greenwashing?

Mattress greenwashing refers to a situation where a mattress company falsely advertises its products as natural, organic, or eco-friendly to lure unsuspecting buyers.

How to Detect Mattress Greenwashing?

Here's how to determine whether a mattress manufacturing company is greenwashing:

No Backup Evidence Claims

It's never advisable to believe just any company that claims to manufacture eco-friendly or 100% natural mattresses. In fact, those that do usually provide proof of such claims, mostly on their websites or other relevant platforms. There would be no reason to hide such information from the public, especially because it can positively impact sales.

No Proof of Certifications

Rogue mattress manufacturers often have no proof of the certifications they claim to have attained. Some may provide misinformation, claiming that one certificate covers several other 'certifications', which isn't always true.

No Manufacturing Information

Although not necessary, many authentic manufacturers share information about their manufacturing processes or the sources of their materials with the public. If such information is missing, chances are that the manufacturer greenwashes mattresses.

Are Latex Mattresses Recyclable?

Yes, latex mattresses are recyclable.

How To Dispose of an Old a Mattress

You don't have to get rid of your old mattress, if you can repurpose it. For example, if you have pets, you may consider transforming the old mattress into an animal bed. But if you must get rid of the mattress, consider donating it to charity if it's still in good condition. However, if you can't reuse it, you can put it in a mattress disposal bag, and contact your local waste management authority for collection.

Are Latex Mattresses Safe?

Yes, natural latex mattresses are safe - you don't have to worry about the risk of developing allergies when you use such mattresses. However, some mattress manufacturers may not be honest about the products used to manufacture their mattresses. As a result, you may develop allergic reactions when you use such mattresses.

To avoid this, always shop for natural latex mattresses from reputable vendors like Latex For Less. As mentioned earlier, this company sells 100% natural latex mattresses and accessories, including toppers and pillows.

Are Latex For Less Mattresses Biodegradable?

Latex For Less offers all-natural latex products, including natural latex mattresses, toppers, pillows, foundations, and adjustable bases. So if you've recently decided to switch from your old mattress to a biodegradable one, Latex For Less has everything you need to make such a wise transition. With the perfect collection for a bedroom makeover, you can rest assured that you'll be selecting from the safest all-natural latex foam products available in the market when you shop at Latex For Less.

Latex For Less begins its manufacturing journey in Sri Lanka, outsourcing 100% natural latex from local farmers. We don't use middlemen for two reasons: to ensure the quality of our sources, and remain cost-effective.

Our company also uses 100% organic cotton to make mattress covers and 100% organic wool as the natural fire barrier. Everything is manufactured locally by highly skilled workers to reduce the emission of harmful gasses associated with the busy industrial setup.

Latex For Less also has the following certifications:

  • GOTS
  • Oeko-Tex Standard 100
  • Eco-Institut

As an environmentally-friendly mattress manufacturer, Latex For Less ensures that you get the most durable mattress ever, by giving you a 20-year warranty on our  bed-in-a box natural latex mattresses. The goal is to ensure that your mattress doesn't end up in a landfill, causing environmental degradation. Besides, these mattresses come shipped in a small reusable box.

Bottom Line

When shopping for the ideal mattress, most buyers usually focus on comfort and nothing else. But did you know that natural latex mattresses are not only comfortable but also eco-friendly? One of the best ways to experience the true benefits of natural latex mattresses to both the sleeper and the environment is by purchasing these mattresses from reputable manufacturers. That's where Latex For Less comes in to provide comfortable, eco-friendly, and pocket-friendly mattresses made from 100% natural latex!

Elizabeth Magill

Elizabeth Magill is a professional freelance writer and editor who holds an MBA. Liz specializes in writing about health news, medical conditions, healthy living, small business, career and work, personal finance, and green-living, including news and trending topics in these specialties. Her clients include Healthline, The Motley Fool, GoBanking Rates, LIVESTRONG.com, Big Interview, HealthNews, Intuit Small Business Blog, Intuit Health, American News Report, Travels.com, IFX Medical, and many others. She’s also a published eBook author and ghost writer for various clients in the health, medical, career, small business, and personal finance niches.