How to Pick an Eco-Friendly Mattress

Sleep is one of the best things for your health, but what you’re exposed to while you’re off in dreamland could undermine that good rest. Off-gassing VOCs from flame retardants, chemical-coated metal coils, and even solvents used in the glue or cotton and wool stuffing, can all add up to a toxic bed, or at least one that could make people who are sensitive to their environment feel worse. The good news: An explosion of eco-friendly mattresses have arrived to meet your concerns. The annoying news: It can be a slog to navigate through the bewildering array of claims, so here’s all you really need to know.

Pretty much anyone can call their product “natural” or “green.” There are no federal laws governing how those words are used, so they’re essentially meaningless. However, there are three third-party organizations that have clear-cut definitions, requirements, and established evaluations: Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS), and Oeko-Tex Standard 100.

While there are many (so many!) other organizations offering certification, these three are the most rigorous, and the most meaningful, because they set detailed standards that companies must meet. The thing to know is that they evaluate different aspects. GOTS and GOLS require that 95 percent of materials have to be organic, while OEKO-TEX makes sure VOCs don’t go above a certain emission level and bans the use of certain harmful flame retardants and dyes, among other things. Often, a mattress has only one of these certifications, but not the other. The ones listed below can boast of having both, which means you’re pretty much choosing the most eco-friendly mattress possible!

Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list: More companies may eventually get certified by both GOTS/GOLS and OEKO-TEX. And there are several who are making valiant efforts to be as low-toxic as possible, including Naturepedic, SmartHouse, Tuft & Needle, and Saatva. But the ones mentioned below are good starting points for your search. And once you have a mattress you can breathe easy on, your bedding is next. Don’t even get me started on pillowcases and sheets!


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