The 10 best sustainable mattresses, according to experts | CNN Underscored
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Shopping for sustainable mattresses shouldn’t have to keep you up at night. From their cooling and supportive materials to their environmentally sound manufacturing and discarding processes, sustainable mattresses may be a far wiser investment than their non-eco-conscious counterparts. With all the rigorous testing that goes into certifying a sustainable mattress, most brands make it easy for consumers to identify their status as a sustainable mattress brand, or which mattresses among their organization meet the appropriate criteria.
Start by looking at certifications like Made Safe, GreenGuard, organic, GOTS/Oeko-TEX and B Corp, says Anna Turns, an environmental journalist and author of “Go Toxic Free: Easy and Sustainable Ways to Reduce Chemical Pollution.” In addition, Logan Foley, sleep science coach and product expert at SleepFoundation.org recommends taking a look at The Rainforest Alliance Certification, which adheres to economic, social and environmental sustainability.
Beyond certifications, Turns says to ask two questions when shopping for sustainable mattresses: how were they made and how will they be disposed of? Bob Willard, a sustainability expert and founder of Sustainability Advantage says to look for recycled and renewable materials, a reduced carbon footprint and embodied carbon, multi-use packaging, and a take-back program at its end of life.
Opt for materials like wool, which Turns says is naturally waterproof and flame-resistant, and latex, which Foley describes as a natural alternative to poly- and memory foams that are often synthetic and non-renewable. “Sourcing of these renewable materials should be as local as feasible and from farms that utilize sustainable methods that do not harm the habitat around them,” says Jay Cohen, a sales associate at Healthy Choice Organic Mattress, adding that local manufacturing reduces the environmental load of delivering it. Willard also recommends looking beyond the attributes of the mattress itself, and instead, asking “how sustainable its manufacturer supplier is, like where it was made and under what working conditions,” he says.
While the mattress’ materials are crucial to consider, true sustainability addresses the entire life cycle of the mattress, according to Turns. “Consider whether your company will recycle your old mattress,” she says. “Real sustainability stems from designing out waste, so if a mattress has been made with its end of life in mind, the company will have a plan for that mattress to be dismantled so materials can be reused or recycled again.”
Shopping for the right sustainable mattress is equally about looking for the right criteria as it is about avoiding certain ones. Turns suggests staying away from anything that claims to be waterproof or stain-resistant, which often involves the addition of toxic PFAS forever chemicals like Teflon. She says to avoid antimicrobial nanosilver because “it just isn’t essential,” to skip solvents like formaldehyde that will then be released or off-gassed into the air, and to avoid mattresses made from synthetic polyurethane foam, which is derived from fossil fuels soaked in flame-retardants (Cohen says, however, that while many of us are advised to avoid flame retardants in mattresses, they have been required by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) since 2007 to prevent mattress fires).
Foley reminds us not to conflate an organic mattress with a sustainable one. “Just because something has been made with organic materials, it does not mean it’s sustainable,” he says. For example, he says organic bamboo is used in bedding materials but requires more processing than other fibers, which means it requires more water and energy to produce.
Because terms like eco, green, sustainable and chemical-free aren’t regulated, Turns says to look for transparency and documentation of any proof of claims. “Don’t be duped,” and “avoid the greenwash,” she says.
If you already own what our experts might define as a non-sustainable mattress, hope is not lost. Turns recommends investing in a mattress topper made from natural fibers like wool or latex (allergies permitting). But if you’re building out your dream planet-friendly bedroom from scratch, the following sustainable mattresses are a great place to start.
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Avocado is widely known as the gold standard when it comes to sustainable mattresses thanks to its GOTS-certified organic and non-toxic materials, its status as a Climate Neutral certified brand that offsets more emissions than it generates, and its factories powered by renewable energy. “As a fellow Certified B Corp, I would lean toward Avocado to produce a sustainable mattress in a responsible way,” says Willard. And during CNN Underscored’s Guide to Sleep, our readers can score $225 off orders of $2,000 or more with code CNNSLEEP.
The brand’s bestselling mattress is made with GOLS-certified organic latex and GOTS-certified organic wool and cotton. It uses hand-sewn stitching instead of synthetic adhesives, and provides unmatched back support and comfort with its naturally sourced cushioning.
As a member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, you can be sure a Saatva mattress is a kinder addition to your home. It uses certified organic cotton on all its mattresses that are topped with a plant-based antimicrobial solution, as well as sustainably harvested latex. Due to its 19 factories strategically established around the US, your mattress only travels a limited number of miles to you, thus reducing its carbon footprint. Plus, CNN Underscored readers can get $550 off orders of $1,000 or more when you use this link.
Opt for the organic cotton mattress that earned the brand a “Sustainability Product Of The Year” award from Business Intelligence Group. It comes in your preferred height and comfort level from plush soft to firm, uses a plant-based thistle pulp flame-retardant in place of toxic chemical sprays, and provides ultimate support and buoyancy through its recycled steel coils.
Turns recommends Happsy for its “transparent approach at explaining why [it doesn’t] include toxics and opt for safer, healthier alternatives.” As the first certified organic mattress in a box, Happsy boasts numerous certifications including GOTS, GOLS, Rainforest Alliance Certification, and Made Safe, and it’s also a member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council.
This bestselling organic mattress checks off numerous sustainability boxes: it’s made with certified organic cotton, wool and latex for better temperature regulation and pressure point relief, it’s free of any synthetic glues, adhesives or foams and it uses natural flame barriers. Plus, it comes in a compressed box for easier handling.
Cohen is a fan of Naturepedic mattresses, which are GOTS, GOLS and Made Safe certified. “The mattresses are handcrafted in Ohio utilizing high-quality, natural and organic materials,” he says. “The quality and longevity are amazing, and the beds are comfortable and supportive.”
Cohen says the customizable nature of this luxurious mattress contributes to its longevity, thus making it a more sustainable option. You’re able to swap in as many three-inch interchangeable layers as you’d like — even if they differ from that of your sleeping partner — for personalized, long-lasting comfort.
Cohen recommends Vispring as a high-quality sustainable mattress with a luxurious feel. “The mattresses are handmade in England and use all-natural and sustainable materials like Shetland wool, cotton, silk, cashmere and mohair. [It features] no plastic, polyester, foam, or other artificial products or chemicals in manufacturing. Vispring’s goal is to be carbon neutral by 2025, and it is currently implementing policies company-wide to make that happen.”
Made of British fleece wool and cotton and virgin Vanadium steel, the Elite Mattress combines comfort and durability. It’s made-to-order and designed to last up to 30 years, which reduces waste.
Obasan uses organic rubber, cotton and wool, the latter of which is harvested using animal-friendly shearing methods, making it a full-fledged sustainable mattress brand. “Obasan hand makes the mattresses in Canada, and there are no chemicals in any part of the process, and the mattresses are customizable,” says Cohen. “If your needs change through the years, you do not need to get a whole new mattress and dump the old one, but only buy one or more of the components to make it more firm or plush.”
This double-sided mattress provides both a medium and firm sleeping experience to switch up your comfort on a whim and extend its shelf-life. Its natural wool material serves as a fire barrier, which omits the need for toxic chemicals.
Birch mattresses use several sustainable elements in its products, from sustainably sheared and traceable New Zealand wool to renewable latex from trees and flame retardants sourced from wool fibers that transform into carbon. The brand is certified by GOTS, Oeko-Tex, GreenGuard Gold, and is certified organic.
This breathable and all-natural mattress won several awards for its supportive yet plush feel to eliminate back pain and breathable hypoallergenic materials ideal for hot sleepers. The mattress comes with steel coils that limit motion transfer, plus two free eco-friendly pillows.
Brentwood Home creates mattresses that are kinder to the planet by integrating the likes of upcycled denim scraps, wood pulp-derived polyesters, coconut fiber padding, and recycled plastic that uses fewer greenhouse gas emissions. All options are GOLS and GOTS certified, Rainforest Alliance Certified, and CertiPUR-US certified.
The brand’s bestselling mattress has a super cool secret: cooling gel made with botanically derived renewable foam. It boasts a medium-soft feel ideal for most sleepers, a 100% carbon offset, and a plant-based Tencel cover made from sustainably grown eucalyptus trees that’s said to be softer than silk.