A product of the rubber tree, latex foam is eco-friendly, as well as breathable and naturally hypoallergenic. Photo credit: Sealy.
One mark of environmentally friendly bedding is the Oeko-Tex Standard label. Products that feature it have been successfully tested and checked for harmful substances that are prohibited or regulated by law, chemicals that are known to be harmful to health, and restrictions that are included as a precautionary measure to safeguard health.
What’s new in eco-friendly bedding?
- by J.D. Walker
Once upon a time, the most desirable mattresses were those made using advanced engineering and space-age materials. While these are still the standard, many bedding manufacturers are revisiting natural solutions to create “greener” sleep alternatives.
Back to Nature
Nothing’s more on-trend right now than “eco-friendly” home furnishings. Bedding producers are responding by getting back to nature with a focus on all-natural materials and manufacturing processes.
“People want to go green,” she says. “Plus, I think they recognize the health benefits of using natural products,” says Julia Rosien, communications director for Natura World, a company dedicated to green manufacturing.
In the growing market of eco-bedding, many major manufacturers—such as Serta, Natura World, Tempurpedic, Simmons and Latex International—have come together in the Specialty Sleep Association to create a certification program for the segment. The goal is to establish consensus around standards and definitions for terms to describe bedding—such as “green,” “natural,” “all-natural” and “organic”—so that shoppers will no what to look for when selecting eco-friendly mattresses.
So what does it take to go green? Green bedding manufacturers look for all-natural fibers like cotton and wool that have been minimally processed. Bamboo fabrics are popular among environmentally conscious manufacturers because bamboo regenerates quickly, making it highly sustainable.
Latex and foam come in “green,” too. Natural latex is derived from the tropical rubber tree. Manufacturers like Latex International use latex that has been formulated without the use of solvents. For the foam core, manufacturers like Sealy use soy foam to cut down on the amount of petrochemicals in their bedding.
California-based Aireloom, a company with six decades of bedding history, has been using as many natural components as possible since 2004. Aireloom products feature Oeko-Tex certified fabrics (see sidebar), bio-based foams, natural latex, bamboo fabrics and frames made from sustainable forest lumber.
Rosien says Natura World is fully invested in the green movement. Founded in 1994, Natura World sells several lines of mattresses including latex, air, and adjustable beds—some constructed with up to 99.9 percent all-natural components. Company officials say natural materials cut down on allergens, dust mites and bacteria while still providing a quality night’s sleep.
Next Generation Green
Research and development in eco-conscious bedding is a focus for many manufacturers. One strategy is to utilize soy-based to reduce dependence on petrochemical foams. Products such as Cargill’s BiOH Polyols are making that a reality and reducing the environmental footprint of bedding products.
Natura World currently uses lightweight fibers made from recycled plastic bottles in some of its pillows, says Rosien. And the company is exploring other solutions, such as the use of spun fibers made from wood pulp cellulose.
Others in the bedding industry are heading back to Nature as well. In 2008, the Polyurethane Foam Association released its platform on sustainability, a document outlining seven principles of the trade association’s commitment to pursue “green” issues. They include reducing solid waste and sharing scientific research about environmentally friendly materials.