Sweet Dreams are Made of These: Eco-Friendly Beds

The average person will spend 26 years of their lives sleeping, so make sure you invest in a good bed! Here are the steps I took to purchase a quality, eco friendly mattress; bed frame and bedding. And how I responsibly disposed of my old bedding.

Mattress shopping

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I knew it was time for a new mattress, I could feel it wearing and it was accumulating more years than it should for both hygiene and comfort purposes. Since my shopping habits have now changed, and I don’t just go out and buy the first thing that is highly rated I took some time to look up what would be eco-friendly while being the right fit for me.

When researching I was surprised to discover that much of the material used in mattresses can be toxic to your health. Most are treated with chemicals so they are flame retardant. Clearly you don’t want your mattress becoming a fire hazard but there are better ways to achieve this without the heavy chemicals. To comply with safety standards a natural mattress will use wool since that is a natural fire retardant. So my search narrowed to natural mattresses made with organic materials by ethical means. I also discovered that when you purchase a natural mattress you really need the proper frame to support it. Instead of using a box spring, a wood or metal frame is used so the mattress can breathe. I was annoyed to find out that most box springs like mattresses will attract dust mites, which can make allergies worse. For someone like me who already suffers from allergies I was happy to forgo my box spring.

Two options stood out to me, and one was Avocado Mattress. I appreciate all the extra work they do to explain how they construct their mattresses and what goes into them. They are one of the more mainstream natural mattress options and they have a few style options. The options are pretty straight forward and easy to navigate.

The other company that I looked into and eventually went with was The Futon Shop. I discovered them through Kathryn Kellogg’s blog post about her hunt for an organic mattress, you can read it here. It outlines a lot of the reasons she supports organic and actually toured the warehouse herself. What stood out about this one mattress in particular to me was that you could layer it how you like to support comfort depending how firm you like your mattress. The Moonlight mattress has four layers and you can choose soft, medium or firm for all four or a mix of all of them. I had a conversation with a staff member to be sure I was choosing what was best for my weight, height, and sleeping style. They even had a lovely natural wood bed frame I could order as well. I have had my new mattress and bed frame for about two months now and I am very pleased with the outcome.

Sheets, Comforter and Pillows

Not only was my mattress due for an upgrade, my sheets and pillows had tears and was losing support.

For new sheets I explored organic cotton as an option but since I live in the desert and the nights can be warm I opted for eucalyptus sheets. I decided to try out Buffy. They source their eucalyptus from renewable trees in Austria so they are not further harming the planet. The cost for new sheets and a comforter was reasonably priced and they won’t charge you right away so you can see if you like it. Both came in plastic unfortunately and I made sure to give them the feedback that I think it would be wise if they looked at other options but since it was vacuumed sealed it is possible the impact is better for the shipping with the plastic.

I purchased two pillows from Buffy as well but found that they were way too soft for me. They asked that I donate them to a local charity so no further carbon emissions would be incurred. Once I sent proof of my donation they refunded my money. I appreciated their concern for the environmental impact for the return and offered this option.

Since my Buffy pillows didn’t work out, I decided to try a firmer pillow. Avocado Mattress carries one called the Molded Organic Latex pillow. It had good reviews and so far I love it. The firmness is just right for me. I will say that it does have a strange smell to it from the latex and charcoal when you first get it but it fades as time goes by. It is pricy, so I opted for just one pillow to try it out first.

Donations of Old Items

Of course one of the major challenges when replacing a large item of furniture and accessories is what to do with the old items. Mattresses are a large source of waste due to the fact that most places will not accept old mattress donations for hygiene purposes. This is understandable, so it is important to do your research or it will end up in a landfill. I was able to donate my frame, box spring and mattress to the Gospel Rescue Mission, they run shelters for the homeless. Places like this are not going to turn away a good mattress that is just a little worn if it means a bed for someone who needs it. If you can’t find a homeless shelter in your area to donate to try freecycle.org and see if someone will take it off your hands. Depending where you shop some mattress stores will take your old mattress when they deliver your new one. I personally would just ask what it is they do with the old mattresses before agreeing to it.

For my tattered sheets I found a no-kill animal shelter to donate them to knowing that they were not up to snuff for donation at a thrift shop. Most animal shelters are looking for towels or sheets for the animals to use and are not picky about the condition as they might get destroyed anyway.

My old comforter was in good shape, I could have kept it but I wanted something less heavy so I donated it to Goodwill so it could find a happy new owner.

Considering Replacing your Mattress?

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A mattress truly is an investment, you don’t want to waste money or time on something that won’t work for you. So do your own research, and look for holidays for big sales. There always seems to be sales around President’s Day or Labor Day. You have lasted this long, see if you can save your wallet some pain by waiting until a sale rolls around. Become familiar with their return policy and warranties as well.

Remember to measure the space and consider how the mattress is being delivered. Can it fit in door frames? Does the bed frame come built or does it require you to ensemble it? All answers you will want before purchasing anything.

Wishing all of you sweet dreams on a new eco-friendly bed!

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My name is Kate and I'm a world traveler looking to make a positive impact by reducing my waste and single plastic use.