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How a Nontoxic, Eco-Friendly Mattress Can Benefit Your Home

We spend over a third of our lives asleep, so where you rest your head at night makes a huge difference for your overall health and wellbeing. The Good Together Podcast hosts sit down with Mark Abrials, CMO of Avocado Mattress, to discuss why investing in sustainable home pieces matters.

Written by
Brightly Staff

We were delighted to welcome Mark Abrials, one of the co-founders and Chief Marketing Officer of Avocado Mattress, to the Good Together podcast. When Avocado launched in 2015, there weren’t any mattresses that were organic, all-natural, and sustainable at an affordable price. Today, Avocado is one of the leading natural, organic, and eco-conscious mattress brands. If you’re in the market for a new mattress, we’ve got some great tips!

When Buying a New Mattress, Here’s What to Look For

Buying a new mattress is a big-ticket purchase, so it’s important to find one that works best for you. Quality mattresses can cost anywhere from $500 to over $5000, depending on the features, materials, size, delivery service, and other factors. 

Mark recommends that comfort be your priority when mattress shopping. Slightly firmer mattresses are better for most people. They help keep your back aligned comfortably and adequately support most sleepers. 

The materials used to make your mattress are also crucial to making the best decision for both you and the environment. We spend about ⅓ of our life in bed. That’s a lot of time to be touching a product made from synthetic and potentially harmful materials! Just a few layers of sheets and pajamas rest between us and our mattresses, so the contents must be safe.

Looking for mattresses made from organic, natural materials is a healthy and environmentally-friendly choice. At a minimum, the cover of the mattress should be 100% cotton. 

Certifications: Ensuring That Your Mattress is Sustainable

You’ve seen the little labels on chocolate bars, cosmetics, even frozen vegetables saying that the product is organic, fairtrade, or otherwise certified. When it comes to textiles, there are few specific certifications to look out for that serve a similar purpose. 

One of these certifications is GOTS: the Global Organic Textile Standard. It’s a third-party organization that certifies the ecology and social responsibility of textile-based products. They look at everything, including the raw material, the labor, and the end product.

Avocado’s mattresses, pillows, sheets, and toppers are all made with GOTS-certified wool and cotton. Their factory is also GOTS certified, which is an additional layer of certification, ensuring that their factory does not use any harmful materials during production. 

If a product is GOTS certified, you can rest easy knowing that the fibers used are organic and that the manufacturer treats the workers producing the raw materials ethically. You can search for GOTS-certified brands and products using their public database

Another critical component in a mattress is the foam layer. Many mattresses are made with polyurethane, which is known to be harmful in high exposure levels. Natural latex is a safer bet, especially if GOLS, the Global Organic Latex Standard, certifies it to be organic and sustainably harvested. 

In terms of construction, mattresses that are tufted are free of toxic solvents used in spray adhesive mattresses and are more durable. They’re also more easily recycled. Considering the full lifecycle of your mattress, from the raw materials to when you dispose of it years later, can mean a safer and more sustainable choice. 

The last certification to look for is from Made Safe, which takes a holistic view of products. When something is Made Safe certified, it means that it is free of chemicals that are known to be harmful as well as chemicals that are just suspected to be dangerous. Look for the Made Safe label when you’re shopping for personal care products, from cosmetics to apparel to household cleaning items. 

What To Do With Your Old Mattress

Buying a new mattress can mean a healthier and better night’s sleep. But what should you do with your old mattress? 

Some used mattresses can be donated, as long as they are still hygienic and in a usable form. They should be free of large stains or indents. 

If a mattress can’t be donated, recycling is far better than dumping in a landfill. Recycling facilities can turn foam into carpet padding and recycle the springs for other uses. 

Some states, such as California, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, have dedicated drop-off facilities available for mattresses. You can look at sites like Bye Bye Mattress and Earth 911 to search for recycling and donation programs in your area.

From moving them out of our homes to getting them hauled away, saying goodbye to your old mattress can be complicated. That’s why it’s essential to consider the full lifecycle of a newly-purchased mattress. Buying a mattress from a sustainable company means that it has a better chance of being recycled or at least biodegrading if it were to end up in a dump.  

How to Prolong the Life of Your Mattress 

The mattress industry as a whole has conditioned consumers to believe that mattresses must be replaced every 7 to 8 years. But if a mattress is made of quality materials, it can last up to 25 years. Natural latex mattresses, in particular, are known for their durability. 

To make sure you want to sleep on it for the next 10 to 20 years, you can take advantage of trial periods offered by mattress brands. Be careful, though, of using mattress trials as a “try-on” period. Returned mattresses are sometimes donated if a company can arrange it in your area. Otherwise, the mattress gets taken to the dump. 

Our Review: Avocado Mattress

Even if you're not in the market for a brand new mattress, the Avocado team makes some wonderfully soft and clean bed accessories. Mark and his crew were kind enough to send our team some of their signature pillows and a quilted mattress pad so we could put their products to the test.

The first product we put to the test was Avocado's Green Pillow. Our founder Laura is an avid user of Tempurpedic pillows, however, after learning about the potential toxins going into her night's sleep, she was ready to try out a new pillow! She loved how there was no ominous off-gassing once the pillow was unwrapped, and it slept like a dream. She rates the Green Pillow 4/5 stars as it tends to lose its' shape after a few evenings and needs lots of fluffing to get back to its' glory days.

The other product we tried was the Organic Mattress Pad, which we loved. Gone are the days of crinkling plastic underneath your soft sheets – Avocado's version is feels very luxe (it's quilted) and didn't add any extra heat to our night's sleep. We rate this mattress pad 5/5 stars for the thoughtful design, construction, and materials.

The Bottom Line: Think Before You Shop

Above all, the best choice we can make is to be a more conscious consumer. Consider how the product is made, how the workers are treated, where it is made, what you will do with it once it’s served its purpose, the materials. 

In This Episode

  • [3:07] Who is Mark Abrials, and what is Avocado?
  • [4:43] What to look for when buying a new mattress
  • [11:00 ] GOTS & GOLS Certifications
  • [13:21] What Made Safe is and why it matters
  • [16:36] What should you do with your old mattress?
  • [20:22] Organic mattresses are easier to recycle
  • [23:31] Tips for prolonging the life of your mattress
  • [29:13] Mark’s #1 tip for living more ethically
  • [32:13] Two eco-conscious brands Mark recommends
  • [34:16] What we’re excited about as the ethical consumer movement gains traction

Resources We Mentioned

Mark’s favorite ethical brands: Patagonia and PrAna