If you currently have a mattress that has come to the end of its lifespan, and has become old and lumpy, it may be time to get a new one. While shopping for a new mattress can be an exciting experience, have you considered how to dispose of your old mattress in an eco-friendly manner?
While for most people, disposing of the old mattress means throwing it off in the garbage, doing so will cause your mattress to take up landfill space, causing a negative environmental impact.
Effect of Disposing of Your Mattress in a Landfill
A mattress is a large, solid object. When you dispose of your old bed in landfills, it takes up space, and sits there for a long time until it fully decomposes. Dumping your old mattress in landfills can have the following effects that can affect the environment negatively.
- It takes up landfill space: As even a small mattress can take up space of about 23 cubic square feet, most mattresses will probably fill up a lot of landfill space.
- Creates wastage: Mattresses, especially those that use natural materials, can often be broken down into raw materials to make other useful objects. Mattress construction materials like spring, latex, foam, stuffing, frame, etc., can be reused and recycled to reduce wastage, and create useful things for society. Throwing it in landfills will waste the materials.
- Release harmful chemicals in the atmosphere : Old mattresses made from synthetic latex, polyurethane foam, or other chemical components, when thrown in landfills, can release toxic volatile organic compounds (VOC)s, and carbon dioxide, depleting the ozone layers.
- Causing land and water pollution: While the old mattress slowly decomposes in the landfills, its harmful chemicals will seep into the soil and the groundwater, causing environmental pollution.
Recycling the Used Mattresses
You can get rid of your old mattresses in an eco-friendlier way by recycling your old mattress.
Although recycling an old mattress can be time-consuming and energy-intensive, the best way to dispose of your used mattress would be to recycle its components. A bed has many different materials that can be reused, repurposed, and recycled to create other durable products.
The parts of a conventional mattress that can be recycled are:
- Natural materials like natural latex foam can be cut down into smaller pieces, and used as filling for pillows and blankets, carpet padding, or in making toys and other decorative items.
- Mattress covers made from organic cotton and other fabrics, both natural fibers and synthetic, can be shredded, and made into recycled textiles.
- Organic materials, like wool, used in making a natural fire barrier in latex mattresses, can be recycled to make sustainable items.
- The steel coils used in innerspring mattresses and hybrid beds are recyclable to manufacture auto parts and other metal products.
- Wooden frames, made from natural wood, can be used in making recycled furniture, or donated to homeless shelters.
What Types of Mattresses can be Recycled?
Mattresses, depending on their type and composition, can be recycled in the following manner:
Natural Latex Mattresses
Natural latex foam is made from the liquid sap extracted from rubber trees. The sap is then turned into latex foam, which is further processed using two manufacturing processes to build natural latex mattresses.
Of the two processes, Dunlop and Talalay, the Dunlop process makes the most biodegradable natural latex mattress.
Although latex mattresses can come with a hefty price tag, they are one of the most environmentally-friendly mattresses available.
Natural latex is 100% natural and recyclable. The things that make latex mattresses eco-friendly are as follows:
- Latex mattresses have a longer lifespan, lasting up to 20 years. This helps preserve the environment, as you do not need to replace a natural latex mattress very soon.
- Natural latex foam degrades far more slowly than memory foam, polyurethane foam, metal springs, and other raw materials, like wood and cotton. This quality makes it a great material to be repurposed into other household products.
- Used mattresses made from natural latex can be donated to power plants that use this raw material to generate energy.
If you want to buy a new mattress, investing in a natural latex mattress can reduce your carbon footprint.
You can even get a natural latex topper made from organic latex, certified free from any synthetics, fillers, or chemicals, to get a good night’s sleep.
Moreover, getting a natural latex mattress from brands like Latex For Less can provide you with a warranty of 20 years from the purchase date, allowing hassle-free enjoyment of your latex mattress.
Later down the line, you can protect the environment, by recycling your latex mattress responsibly.
Memory Foam Mattresses
Memory foam mattresses are made from polyurethane foam. They are soft, pliable construction materials that are recyclable to make excellent fillers for bedding like pillows, blankets, and other recycled mattresses.
The heat-trapping property of memory foam can be a great option to insulate homes during the winter months.
Innerspring mattresses have box springs or metal coils at the base that can be recycled to form other metal components. Because of their durability, metals are excellent recyclable materials that can be utilized to make auto parts, and other household products.
How are Mattresses Recycled?
Although the mattress recycling process can sound complicated, several mattress recycling programs will readily accept your old mattress. To recycle your old mattress, you must drop off the bed at your nearest mattress recycling program. The facility will have all the necessary tools to break down the mattress, and recycle the components accordingly.
Other Ways to Dispose of Your Old Mattress
If your used mattress is in relatively good shape, and not severely damaged, you can sell it or donate it to an organization, like a domestic abuse shelter, for further use.
Reselling Your Used Mattress
You can sell your gently-used mattress to a mattress store or plant, which will then resell it. The mattress industry is becoming increasingly active in finding ways to recover old mattresses to resale or repurpose them, reducing the environmental impact in the process.
You can also resell your used mattress through social media, or by listing it on websites like Craigslist or eBay.
Used mattresses, specially made from latex foam, are quite popular among buyers who otherwise cannot afford such beds. You can also organize a garage sale to resell your mattress.
Donate Your Old Mattresses
If you have a gently-used mattress, you can donate it to any organization that accepts it. Places like homeless shelters, hospitals, and domestic abuse shelters will readily accept a used bed, kept in good condition. You can even get tax incentives for such donations.
Even when older mattresses are damaged and worn out, and cannot be used for the purposes mentioned above, you can donate them to animal shelters and veterinary hospitals, where they can be used as beds for animals.
Tips for Donating Your Old Mattresses
Before you donate your used mattress, consider the following:
Check the State Regulations
As every state has guidelines regarding donated mattresses, connect with the local health department to know more about the mattress donating rules.
Clean and Disinfect the Mattress
Most state rules will include guidelines, regarding the cleaning process, before donating a used mattress. You can clean and disinfect the bed in the following way.
- Prepare by vacuuming the mattress.
- Steam clean the mattress by working in sections.
- Spray the mattress with an anti-bacterial solution to disinfect it.
- Make sure the mattress is free from any stains. To remove stains from the mattress, you can use a solution of baking soda and peroxide, with a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Dab the stains with the solution, and gently blot them before vacuuming the residue.
Upcycle Your Mattress
Instead of finding ways to get rid of your old mattress, you can use it to make household items. You can break down your old mattress using a pair of household scissors, and use the construction materials to make useful things for your house.
For instance, mattress covers and wool can be used to fill up your bedding and cushions. Latex foam, or other memory foam, can be used to insulate the house, make carpet padding, or build pet beds.
The wood or metal frame can be repurposed to make garden planers or rustic-styled wall decors. You can get many ideas for mattress upcycling from websites, like Pinterest and Instagram, to fully repurpose your used bed.
Responsible Mattress Disposal
Even though recycling, selling, donating, or upcycling your old mattress is the best way to get rid of it, without causing a negative environmental impact, sometimes a responsible mattress disposal might be the best way.
If you are located in an area that does not provide any scope for recycling or donating your old mattress, you can consider a junk removal service.
A junk removal service will pick up your used mattress at a scheduled time convenient for you, and remove it from your house.
Make Better Mattress Choices
To protect the environment, you need to make a better mattress choice, so that almost 90% of the mattress is biodegradable, causing less burden on the landfills.
Investing in an organic or natural mattress is the best way to reduce mattress waste.
An organic latex mattress uses the sap from rubber trees, grown in a sustainable manner, reducing the burden on the environment. Such beds follow stringent regulations, and are certified for their eco-friendly organic materials.
Premium organic latex mattresses have certifications from organizations that monitor the environmental impact of producing the raw materials used in such mattress construction. Some certifications to watch out for are:
- GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard): used to certify the purity of natural and organic latex
- GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard): used to authenticate organic cotton and wool used in building an organic latex mattress
- USDA (United States Department of Agriculture): used to certify agricultural products used to manufacture mattresses
Disposing your old mattress responsibly, or using it further by recycling, repurposing, or donating it, will significantly reduce carbon emissions while protecting the environment.
To prevent environmental pollution, choose to buy natural or organic mattresses, like Latex For Less organic latex mattresses, that are biodegradable, and can be disposed of safely in eco-friendly ways.