Shopping for ecologically responsible bedding has always been a bit of a mystery because of a lack of regulation regarding industry standards. But that could change now that the bedding industry is working to define green bedding.The Specialty Sleep Association is currently working through its new Green Initiative to standardize the manner in which mattress manufacturers and retailers define green, organic, and natural products. While a green mattress might seem like a pretty pricey investment, there's no doubt that we spend a huge amount of time in bed. In fact, we spend a third of our lives in bed. As many people know, sleep problems can lead to added stress, health problems, and an achy back. And that's just the tip of the iceburg. Even more problems may linger in the depths of your mattress.
The ultimate goals, while still being formalized by the participants, include the creation of a standard certification program based on established standards and definitions for terms such as green, natural, all-natural, and organic.
In the mean time, there are several important things to look for in a green bedding. Planet Green's guide to buying a green mattress is also a great resource.
Make sure there are no phthalates.
Phthalates, which can be found in the covering of some mattresses, have been linked to health problems. They have already been banned in mattresses designed for use by children in California. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), phthalates are harmful platicizer chemicals commonly found in crib mattresses and mattress pads. The group of chemicals are known to affect a child's developing endocrine (hormonal) system, and may cause asthma, allergies, or even cancer.
Watch out for PBDEs.
A conscious green consumer should also watch out for polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), especially in crib beds. Read Jasmin's article on this harmful fire retardent which has been found to cause immune suppression, endocrine disruption, behavioral problems, and cancer. A federal law enacted in 1973 requires all mattresses to meet certain guidelines designed to prevent cigarette-ignition, so most conventional mattresses are treated with toxic fire-retardant chemicals that pose significant potential health risks.
Avoid polyurethane foam.
Polyurethane foam is made from petroleum and can emit volatile organic compounds (V.O.C.'s). These compounds have been linked to respiratory irritation and other health problems, according to both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.