The Amazing, Sustainable Natural Latex Mattress

by Joe on January 22, 2011

If you’ve ever purchased a new mattress, you know that one of the greatest challenges is getting rid of the old one. Mattresses are dumped in our nation’s landfills and contribute to the growing waste disposal problem that we are currently facing. In addition to being highly uncomfortable, conventional spring coil mattresses are made using outdated techniques and materials. Have no fear, eco-conscious friends, buying a mattress doesn’t have to be stressful. Choosing a natural latex mattress is your most sustainable choice, and a wise one for a good night’s sleep and a healthy spine.

Formed from natural latex rubber, from the sap of a rubber tree, the natural latex mattress is also referred to as a natural rubber mattress. Regardless of what you call it, this manufacturing technique is more sustainable and ultimately more comfortable than the conventional alternative.

The rubber tree is grown on large plantations in South Asia, South America and Africa which employ thousands of otherwise unemployed residents. Unlike the wood products harvested from the world’s forests to make conventional mattresses, the rubber tree is grow specifically for the purposes of making rubber and does not deplete natural resources. Additionally, the natural latex mattress is biodegradable unlike its conventional alternative.

Choosing the right natural latex mattress can often be a challenge. Many mattress retailers carry a small selection of natural mattresses, and online retailers with larger selections do not offer the ability to test the softness of the sleeping surface.

To ensure that you find the right natural latex mattress, be sure that the entire mattress is made from latex. Many low end manufacturers will use a non-latex core, surrounded by low quality latex on the outside surface. Look for a natural latex mattress that is made with high quality, American made latex without additional filler materials. The mattress should include a cover made from high quality organic wool or cotton. Any other materials will not breath as easily as cotton or wool, and non-organic materials will only serve to defeat the purpose of purchasing a sustainable, natural mattress.

When choosing a natural latex mattress, it’s important to stay informed and research which style will best suit your sleeping needs. There are many imitations out there, companies that have jumped on the green trend in hopes of snagging an extra dollar or two out of the American wallet. Make sure to thoroughly investigate the manufacturer, make sure they’ve been in the latex business and can be trusted.

Ultimately, choosing a natural latex mattress is a wise, environmentally conscious decision. Mother Earth will thank you, but thanks to the great support these natural mattresses offer, your back will thank you too.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

rainforest lover January 22, 2011 at 4:44 pm

FYI -
Due to the impacts of the rubber industry on tropical rainforests — converting intact rainforest into low-diversity rubber monoculture plantations, I’m not sure the production of latex is really “sustainable” as you say. Give these a read:

1. Journalistic Summary of the two reports below: http://www.dailynews.lk/2010/09/06/bus33.asp
2. http://www.worldagroforestrycentre.org/SEA/Publications/files/workingpaper/WP0003-04.PDF
3. http://www.worldagroforestrycentre.org/sea/Publications/files/report/RP0260-10/RP0260-10-1.PDF
4. http://news.mongabay.com/2009/0521-rubber.html
5. http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/05/slash-and-burn-agriculture-isnt-great-for-forest-but-monoculture-plantations-worse.php
6. http://travel.mongabay.com/laos/images/laos_0441.html
7. http://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/5si.pdf (scroll down to second article – page 3)
8. http://www.redd-monitor.org/2009/09/28/how-vietnam-exports-deforestation-interview-with-patrick-meyfroidt/

We really need an organization like the Forest Stewardship Council or the Rainforest Alliance to help us identify which latex comes from scientifically-certified “well-managed” sources that don’t contribute to rainforest destruction and biodiversity loss.

Until we see that, rubber may be a nice “natural” material, but I just don’t trust that it’s production is very eco-friendly at all.

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Joe Barrios January 22, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Fair enough, and you do make excellent points. As with so many other supposedly “green” products, the lack of certifiable, third-party, objective standards makes it difficult to discern that absolutely every step along the path from resource to finished product is truly green.

That said, rubber is unquestionably, I think, a more natural material than the VOC-laden compounds used in many of today’s mattresses. For anyone concerned about VOC’s or other chemicals, natural latex provides a safe haven.

There’s also the biodegradability factor. A typical mattress will probably never biodegrade entirely, between the metals and plastics and whatever else. A rubber one will–so from the perspective of waste, if not from production, latex is the greener product.

Unquestionably we need to apply pressure on the makers of products that are potentially sustainable to make them actually so, by employing sustainable practices. Bamboo is another material that comes to mind along these lines–potentially sustainable depending on how it’s cultivated, but not so eco friendly when the manufacturer doesn’t care about sustainable production.

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