Beds and mattresses: making smart choices

June 19, 2015

We spend about one-third of our lives in the bedroom, so it pays to make it as healthy a place as possible. Investing in quality beds and bedding may cost extra, but both you and the environment will benefit.

Beds and mattresses: making smart choices

Which bed?

With so many options available, choosing a bed frame can be a daunting task. In addition to considerations such as size and style, here are some factors to bear in mind when selecting a bed.

  • Many of the beds and most of the mattresses we buy incorporate synthetic materials. These materials are derived from non-renewable petrochemicals, can contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that emit harmful fumes and are seldom recyclable.
  • When selecting your next bed, opt for a base made of natural materials – preferably wood from a sustainable source that has been sealed with non-toxic, biodegradable stains or varnishes.
  • Avoid bases made of wood composites, such as particleboard, as these are often made with adhesives containing VOCs.
  • If you purchase a bed base or bedroom furniture made of a wood composite, consider sealing it with eco-friendly paint or varnish to minimize off-gassing of fumes.
  • If you buy beds and bedding that you suspect may contain VOCs, let them stand in a well-ventilated space for a couple of weeks before use, and continue to air them regularly. Any fumes will diminish over time.

Which mattress?

When choosing your next mattress, be sure to research what's available and visit natural bedding outlets before making your choice.

  • Consider a mattress that is made of natural, biodegradable materials, such as cotton, wool or natural latex (which is harvested sustainably from rubber trees).
  • If you are prepared to spend for the long term, consider a pure latex mattress – many are guaranteed for 10 years and can last up to 25 years.
  • Latex is light and offers good support. It is also less likely to harbour dust mites than other materials, is naturally antibacterial and is resistant to moisture build-up. Check with the manufacturer that no chemicals have been added.
  • Cotton and wool mattresses are generally reasonably inexpensive, comfortable, durable and allow good air circulation; wool is also an effective heat regulator.
  • However, cotton and wool mattresses require regular airing in the sun to avoid compaction and to ensure that moisture retention and dust mites are kept to a minimum. They can also be heavy and difficult to manoeuvre. Check with the manufacturers that no chemicals have been added.
  • Good-quality inner spring mattresses are widely available for reasonable prices. They can offer good back support and last for 10 years or more. Bear in mind, however, that most such mattresses are made using synthetic materials, particularly polyurethane foams, which may emit chemical fumes.
  • If you opt for a mattress made of synthetic materials, contact the maker and ask about potentially harmful chemicals, such as flame retardants, that might have been used in production.

Your choices regarding bedroom furniture matter. Opting for high-quality beds and mattresses will result in greater comfort, contribute to good health and protect resources. It may even save you money in the long run, as quality products last longer.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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