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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Made with layers of 100 percent natural latex (this actually means something), wool, and certified-organic cotton, this hybrid latex-spring mattress has up to 1,414 coils to support every inch of your body. There’s even a vegan option, made without wool!
This is another hybrid bed with a latex layer on top of springs, but the coils here are individually wrapped for minimal motion transfer. Good for couples! And one of the most affordable of the bunch: $899 for a queen.
A clear overachiever, this company has stuffed more certifications into its memory foam mattress than many other companies. And it is dedicated to creating a better world with its support of multiple charities and local community programs—and making sure no child labor is involved in the harvesting of its latex rubber. In an unconventional move, it uses zero wool batting in its construction, which is supposed to help prevent dust mites from setting up camp. Great for allergy sufferers!
Founder Tim Masters’s daughter suffered from eczema and other allergies, so when he discovered her bed was a culprit, he was inspired to create mattresses that are safe for even the smallest of sleepers. My Green Mattress is now one of the most eco-conscious companies around (offering both spring and memory foam mattresses), with accolades galore. It even offers a crib mattress, named after Masters’s daughter Emily.
One of the largest companies, with both online and traditional brick-and-mortar stores, Nest has a mattress for pretty much any preference. If you have a hard time deciding, you’re bound to find something that appeals to you here.