Greenwashing Mattresses: Is Latex Eco-Friendly?


We specialize in latex mattresses because of the conforming, no pressure-point sleep and the longevity of the product.

Starting in the 1980’s I worked with Englander to develop a line of two-sided, flippable latex mattresses that they make exclusively for our store. We now have 13 different Englander styles, 6 from Natura and 6 from Organic Mattress, Inc., on display. For the past 24 years we have been specializing in latex mattresses – the “as close to perfect” mattress material I have found. For most of those years other retailers either didn’t carry latex or had one or two models while we carried 25. In the last few years that has changed and the inevitable cheapening of the product has begun. Rather than maintaining the highest level of presentation, retailers, feeling they have to have cheaper and cheaper products, are cutting corners, most of which should not be cut. Here is what is happening.

The Shell Game

Greenwashing: Retailers want to jump on the “green” bandwagon, presenting everything as eco, green or natural even if it is made mostly with petroleum and synthetics. There are no enforceable standards for what is “natural” or “green”.

Synthetics: Many “latex” mattresses are being made using synthetic rubber known as polystyrene butadiene or styrene butadiene (SBR). Often stores will present this as natural rubber (yes, petroleum is presented as a natural product).

Soy Foam: Is a plastic foam.  It is roughly 15-20% soy oil, and the remainder is from petroleum.  This is presented as a natural material by some; again, petroleum being sold as a natural product.

Layers: The latest ruse is to present mattresses with an inch or two of SBR latex laminated to polyurethane foam (or “soy foam”) as being a natural latex mattress. Almost all benefit of latex is lost.

Smoke and Mirrors: Comparisons made between synthetic latex and 100% botanical latex are manipulated to present styrene butadiene rubber as comparable or even better than real rubber. Tests are conducted at a ridiculous and unrealistic 158 degrees (Fahrenheit) in order to have it perform better than botanical latex. When compared at room temperature, botanical latex excels.

Inevitably, when shopping for latex mattresses you will run into discussions about Talalay and Dunlop rubber. This argument is often engaged in as a diversion from what the rubber is made from. If the latex is pure botanical rubber, then either process is good. Over the years we have found the Dunlop process botanical latex works best for the support cores of mattresses while the Talalay process rubber is good for use as the cushioning top layer. The differences are truly minor, however, and both hold up well and offer good comfort. In our store we have not experienced a difference in consistency.

So, as it is in many products, it is buyer beware. A knowledgeable consumer is a good consumer. When shopping for latex be aware of the fog of misinformation.

Jeff Garfield

5 thoughts on “Greenwashing Mattresses: Is Latex Eco-Friendly?

  1. Cynthia says:

    Hi
    I’m finding all your blog topics very informative.
    I am curious about the latex mattresses and how they hold up with a larger size person. Also I have been told that they are warmer than conventional mattresses so may not be comfortable for someone who likes cooler conditions for sleeping.
    Thank you.

  2. Jeff Garfield says:

    Hi Liz,
    Latex mattresses can be used on slats, a solid platform, a platform box, or even a box spring.
    Mattress manufacturers almost always require the use of their own platform box, or box springs in order to maintain the warranty. Your best bet is to ask your salesperson what the manufacturers requirements are.
    Since your box spring shows no sags, it is likely to be sufficient as a support system. You won’t damage a latex mattress by putting it on an existing box spring as long as there are no springs poking out. However, even when a box spring shows no signs of wear, there can sometimes be softer spots that will translate through the mattress and give a hammock-like feel. We don’t want the brand new mattress to perform differently than it did on the showroom floor.
    One major drawback to putting any mattress on a true box spring is that the springs transfer more motion than wooden platforms or slats. If you ever needed to firm up the feel of your box spring, you could always put a piece of plywood between the mattress and box. If you do choose to put plywood below a latex mattress, it is important to either cut holes in it, or use some sort of fibrous pad to promote breathability. If moisture is trapped underneath any mattress, there is the potential for mold.
    Thank you very much for your inquiry, and let us know if you have any more questions.

  3. Liz says:

    Do latex mattresses need to be on slats or a platform? We’d like to use our current box spring so we can save money and keep another mattress/box spring out of the landfill. We believe our box to consist of a wood frame with cross-wires on top, not of coiled springs. It is 6 years old with no signs of sagging. Would this work for a latex mattress? My partner is not convinced that the wire top wouldn’t work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We only sell two sided mattresses. Here's Why:

A 2-sided mattress you can flip and rotate is better for your body and your wallet! Flippable mattresses last up to 3 times as long as ‘can’t flip’ ones. It’s simply untrue that 2-sided mattresses are no longer being made. Here at Bedrooms & More Seattle, they’re all we sell — because it’s what is best for our customers and the environment.

×
Night & Day K-Series/P-Series

Spices Bed Rails

Dual System Headboards • Works with both K-Series and P-Series Rails •
dual_diagram
K-Series P-Series
k-series-info p-series-info

New “Dual System Headboards”

We are in the process of changing many of our headboards to be both “K Series” and “P Series” capable. The headboards will have both sets of holes for using either way. The new headboards will be marked “Dual System Headboard” on the boxes. This process will take time for all sizes and finishes to be available and will be gradual, as the new versions come in and the old version get depleted. We are telling you now so that you can be aware of what the “Dual System Headboard” terminology means when you see it on the box or in our catalog. The list of headboards that will be switched to the new “Dual System” are listed below. Of course, you will need to order the correct rails and footboards depending on whether the customer wants “K” or “P” Series. The new “K Series” height allows for the use of the bigger bunk bed drawers and/or trundle and “K Series” footboards already have the privacy panel built in. We are also making the Folding Footboard Bench Footboard “Dual System”. If you need one of the new items to be “Dual System” (for “K Series”), you will need to specifically request it until all old versions are gone, to make sure you get the new version.

Spices Bed Rails & Accessories Compatibility

 K-Series RailsP-Series Rails
Dual-System Headboard Matching Accessories Matching Accessories
Blackpepper Bed Dual-Systemtick
  • K-Series Basic Footboard
  • Folding Footboard Bench
  • Cinnamon Drawers
  • Cinnamon Trundle Bed
tick
  • P-Series Basic Footboard
  • Footboard Panel
  • Folding Footboard Bench
  • Premium Collection Futon Drawers
Chameleon Bed Dual-System
Nutmeg Bed Dual-System
Rosemary Dual-System
Solstice Bed Dual-System
Tamarind Bed Dual-System
Folding Footboard Bench Dual-System Footboardtick
  • Cinnamon Drawers
  • Cinnamon Trundle Bed
tick
  • Premium Collection Futon Drawers
 
 K-Series RailsP-Series Rails
Other Spices Headboards Matching Accessories Matching Accessories
Basic Footboard (P-Series) To form a Basic Bedcross tick
  • Footboard Panel
  • Premium Collection Futon Drawers
Coriander Bedcross tick
  • P-Series Basic Footboard
  • Footboard Panel
  • Folding Footboard Bench
  • Premium Collection Futon Drawers
Saffron Bed
Thyme Bed
Laurel Bedcross tick
  • Premium Collection Futon Drawers
K-Series Basic Footboard To form a Basic Bedtick
  • Cinnamon Drawers
  • Cinnamon Trundle Bed
cross 
Jasmine Bedtick
  • K-Series Basic Footboard
  • Folding Footboard Bench
  • Cinnamon Drawers
  • Cinnamon Trundle Bed
cross 
Sandpiper Bed
Vanilla Bed
Ginger Captain’s Bedtick
  • Rolling Bucket Drawers
  • Captain’s Trundle Bed
cross 
Carmel BedcrossNote: Carmel Bed has its own matching rails.

  • Premium Collection Futon Drawers
×