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Published May 12, 2011

You could be saving the planet in your sleep, or at least minimizing the impact of your mattress on the planet. Eco-friendly mattresses differ from the standard bed in that they use greener materials and fewer chemicals.


The visible outer layer of a typical mattress is made of polyester, which may also be blended with cotton. Polyester is typically petroleum-based and non-biodegradable. Greener manufacturers stick to organic cotton or wool.

The squishy stuff under the cover is often polyurethane and polyester quilting and padding surrounding wire coils. Arguably, the most eco-friendly mattresses on the market replace all this metal and petroleum-based padding with a core of natural rubber latex.

Flobeds is one of the leaders in natural latex mattresses, but several competitors have entered the natural latex market. Flobeds makes customized beds using three layers of latex in varying firmnesses. The latex is made with no petrochemicals from sustainably harvested, natural and renewable rubber trees.

There also are standard mattresses with some green credibility. The Pure Echo mattress has a standard spring system, but uses organic cotton and natural wool instead of synthetic fibers or standard cotton.


The Pure Echo and natural latex mattresses also have fewer chemicals than most standard alternatives.

Polyurethane foam emits volatile organic compounds that have been linked to respiratory diseases and skin irritation. Some brands of memory foam are known for the heavy chemical smell of these VOCs and other materials off-gassing in the mattress.

In addition, many mattresses are treated with chemical pesticides and flame retardants that may also be dangerous to both your health and the environment. Some major mattress manufacturers have phased out toxic flame retardants, replacing them with wool and other more natural flame barriers.

Moreover, without any of these chemicals, rubber latex is naturally hypo-allergenic, and free of dust mites, mold and mildew.


The future use of your mattress materials is as important as their history. A more durable mattress is more eco-friendly. Even a traditional mattress full of chemicals and polyester earns some eco-friendly points if it lasts longer than the five-year expected lifespan of some cheap mattresses.