The global drive toward sustainability and eco-friendly living, along with people's growing awareness of how their actions impact the planet Earth, has transformed the consumer mindset, thereby influencing buying decisions.
The conscious effort to uphold and practice an eco-friendly lifestyle not only involves food, energy source and fashion choices but also how people select everyday products, such as household appliances, cleaning materials and mattresses.
When it comes to mattresses, it seems easy enough to make the right choice. The market is saturated with products all claiming to be natural, eco-friendly, plant-based, organic, green and so on. There are also industry certifications that work to add a layer of confidence and reassurance that the mattress being sold has earned the thumbs-up of a trustworthy certifying body – or is that the case?
Most of these certifying bodies are independent third parties that set stringent testing and inspection requirements that producers must meet to get certified.
However, there are also certifications or labels that are vague and basically meaningless. Some of these can be abused and used for greenwashing, which refers to the deliberate use of terms that imply a company’s products are environmentally friendly, organic, natural, healthy, safe or toxin-free even when they are not. This misleading tactic is usually employed in marketing to induce eco-conscious consumers to purchase such products. It gives consumers a false sense of security and confidence in the products they are buying. For example, a mattress containing soy may be labelled "plant-based" when, in fact, there is hardly any soy in it – just the bare minimum – and most soy is GMO.
So, before you purchase a latex mattress that’s labelled “natural” or "plant-based," it pays to take a closer look. After all, a mattress is considered a major purchase, and you might be sleeping on it for the next 10 years or so.
To help you sift through all the certification claims you may encounter as you search for the perfect new mattress, below is a rundown of the most common mattress industry certifications:
The Global Organic Textile Standard or GOTS is a globally recognized textile processing standard for organic fibres. It encompasses both content and labour standards, and it unifies standards applied in different countries and production stages. For example, if the cotton used is sourced from India and the material processing and assembly are done elsewhere, GOTS simplifies the process and verifies the organic classification of most textiles.
For mattresses, GOTS requires that a minimum of 95 per cent of the materials used be organic. It also bans the use of specific substances (e.g., polyurethane) in the non-organic 5 per cent component.
The Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) objective is to ensure that 95 per cent or more of the finish latex product is comprised of organic latex polymers. It also sets restrictions on the remaining components comprising 5 per cent.
GOLS standards cover all aspects of the supply chain – from harvesting of the raw materials through to manufacturing and labelling – which adds credibility to products that adhere to its strict standards.
The Eco-Institut, based in Germany, is influential in various industries, as it has been testing products for pollutants and emissions for over two decades. Aside from mattresses that the institute tests for natural content and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in latex, they also test bedding, furniture, flooring, textiles, toys, leather goods, cellphones and many other consumer goods.
The Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 is one of the most popular ethical fashion certifications signifying that the textiles produced do not contain toxic chemicals. It is also applied to different production processes, such as mattress components.
Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 sets limits on VOC emissions and prohibits the use of harmful content and emissions in all types of products. Although a valuable certification, their standards do not indicate natural or organic materials are being used.
EcoCert started in France way back in 1991 but has since expanded internationally. This third-party inspection and certification firm assesses organic agricultural products like organic cotton, buckwheat and hemp. It certifies organic wool, cotton and linen cultivated in the United States for the USDA and the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) seals. EcoCert also certifies textiles sourced from organically grown materials using the Organic Content Standards.
Natural fibres such as cotton, linen, wool and silk are used in insulators, natural fire barriers, batting and covers of mattresses. Other materials like green tea, aloe extract and soy oil are used in foam additives and cover treatments. EcoCert may be called upon to test and certify these materials in their countries of origin.
In principle, GREENGUARD Gold is quite similar to Oeko-Tex® Standard 100, as it indicates which mattresses or mattress materials have low chemical emissions. Being GREENGUARD Gold-certified simply means that the mattress does not contain chemical additives, meets emissions standards, and produces low VOCs within safe limits.
The Cradle to Cradle certification is focused on evaluating five quality categories in every product. These categories are material health, material reutilization, renewable (green) energy, water stewardship, and social responsibility. In simple terms, the Cradle to Cradle certification considers ethical business practices and sustainability in assessing a product.
Established in 2008 by members of the American foam industry, the CertiPUR-US certification implies that the flexible polyurethane foam meets their criteria regarding VOC’s and banned chemicals such as ozone depleters, mercury, lead and heavy metals, formaldehyde and so on. It does not in any way indicate the presence of natural content in a mattress.
The Forest Stewardship Council certification provides an assurance that forestry products satisfy stringent environmental, social and economic standards for the protection of ecosystems, lands and workers.
The Organic Content Standard (OCS) is used to certify non-food products containing 95 to 100 per cent organic material. OCS certification covers the processing, manufacture, packaging, labelling, trading and distribution of every product being certified.Unlike GOTS, it also does not contain guidelines regarding environmental and social impacts.
So you see, there are a lot of certifications out there, and without this information, it can be difficult to sift through all the claims manufacturers make.
At Nature’s Embrace, our:
So, do a bit of research to make sure the mattress you want delivers on its promise of being natural and eco-friendly. View our material certification page, or simply get in touch with us for more detailed information on our mattresses.