The “green” ethic is sweeping the nation. People are recognizing that late-20th-century spending patterns aren’t reasonable over the long term, and more consumers are demanding products that meet a high standard of ecological sustainability.
Natural latex foam mattresses, when selected carefully, can live up to that green ideal. Latex can be a luxury item that you actually feel good about.
Latex is the natural product of a range of plant species, the most prolific of which is Hevea brasiliensis—the rubber tree plant. Liquid latex can be extracted from rubber trees much as maple syrup is extracted from maple trees; the tree is “tapped,” latex runs down a short chute to a collection bucket, and the buckets are emptied on a regular basis by workers.
The same tree can produce latex for as many as 50 years without being harmed by this harvesting method. Latex production is thus a sustainable and ecologically friendly operation that encourages the growth of trees and the resulting oxygen production. When responsibly managed, latex production can actually add to a healthy environment, giving back more than it takes.
Latex foam can be produced using few or no industrial chemicals, on or near the site of the harvesting location. Foam that’s made using these guidelines imparts no chemicals to the atmosphere and minimizes the carbon footprint of each mattress. Not every latex mattress, not even all mattresses labeled “100% natural latex” meets these standards—so buy with caution.
Rubber trees are raised on estates throughout the world, many of which ascribe to sustainable or organic farming practices. Organic latex is often more expensive than non-organic varieties, since it takes more hands-on daily work to keep trees healthy without the use of chemicals—and since in our current system organically produced items are considered more valuable. Still, if you want all natural, organically produced bedding, organic latex can be one of your most luxurious and comfortable options.
Buyer beware—not everything labeled “organic” in the latex mattress market truly is. Many mattresses bear an organic label because the latex is produced on an organic estate, but the label may not take into account processing methods. Latex mattress production can include petrochemical processing and the use of industrial-strength glues and dyes, not to mention the use of fire-retardant chemicals on the mattress exterior.
The Bottom Line
If you want a mattress that’s truly sustainable, choose one that is:
- Produced on or near the plantation where latex is harvested to reduce your mattress’s carbon footprint.
- Constructed in unglued layers.
- Includes only botanical latex with no additives, fillers, or chemical agents.
- Covered with an all-natural or organic mattress cover option such as organic wool, which can meet U.S. flammability guidelines without the use of dangerous chemicals.
- Long-lasting (look for a 20+ year warranty) to minimize the number of mattresses you put in a landfill during your lifetime.
With a little attention to detail, you can find one of the finest luxury beds on the market today that meets even the most rigorous “green” standards. Sleep at your best on a high-quality bed with a clean conscience… choose latex.
Do you believe in “going green”? Have you tried sleeping on latex foam?