Help me choose an eco-friendly mattress!

Posted on April 30, 2009 by Allie

We bought our mattress 6 years ago, and it’s already done for.  It’s a King Koil, and I am naming names, because they aren’t a green company and I’m utterly disgusted by the short lifespan of this product.  We bought the mattress before I started paying much attention to materials and conservation.  It is enormous, and heavy, and chock full of all sorts of materials.  We spent a little more on it than we’d planned, because the salesman pushed the fact that it had a fifteen year warranty.  If you’re going to have the same mattress for the next fifteen years, maybe it pays to splurge.  Right?

Oh, we were so wrong.

For the first two years, it was like sleeping on a cloud.  And from there, it all started to go down hill.  Now, the mattress has two major ruts where we sleep.  The other day, when J got out of bed and could barely stand upright, I pulled out the warranty card, ready to call King Koil and complain, when I read that compression of layers isn’t covered by the warranty.  Um. . . okay, so it has a warranty, but premature wearing out of a 15 year mattress at 6 years isn’t actually covered by the warranty.  Lovely.  And the ruts are so bad that adding a foam or pillow topper wouldn’t help.

I am sick over the fact that this big honking mound of materials (and the energy that went into making it) is a total waste after just 6 years.

And we won’t get into the fact that I don’t even want to know what kind of materials were used in making this mattress to begin with.  Now that I do all the research that I do, I want to make sure that with our next mattress purchase, we’re sleeping on a mattress that won’t off-gas, that doesn’t contain random fillers, and scary flame-retardants (there are natural options, such as using a wool cover).

But, finding a “kinder” mattress isn’t exactly an inexpensive endeavor.  But if we’re going to have a mattress for the next fifteen or twenty years, it makes sense to splurge, right? Except, I don’t want to fall for that again.  If we’re going to shell out money for a new mattress, this time, I really want it to last.  I also haven’t found many local options for an eco-friendly mattress, which means we’ll have to order one, which means we can’t test it out in a show room before we buy.  While many of the sites we’ve checked out have trial periods and return policies, most involve a return shipping, and/or recycling fee, (not to mention the energy that goes into shipping and processing a returned mattress), so it’s really in our best interest to get it right the first time.

I’ve been looking at Keetsa mattresses and also natural latex mattresses.  Have any of you upgraded to an eco-friendlier mattress?  If so, what kind, and are you happy with your choice?  Do you think it will stand the test of time?

If you decided against a greener mattress when making your last mattress purchase, what were the deciding factors for you?

Please help!  I need your answers.  Our mattress is so bad, I’m considering sleeping on my backpacking bedroll tonight!  As much as I hate to admit it, when it comes to our mattress, we can’t just make do with what we have.

38 Comments +

  1. We just bought a Keetsa Tea Leaf Dream a month ago and it is the best mattress we have ever had. We co-sleep with our three-year-old daughter and normally I get no sleep, but with this bed we can toss and turn and you can’t feel anything. It comes in boxes with free shipping and you build the boxspring yourself which is really easy. I cannot say enough about this company or the mattress. We also bought one for our daughter. Keetsa is definitely worth every penny and was actually the most cost-effective option that I found compared to organic mattresses.

    April 30th, 2009 at 12:30 pm
    Comment by Kirsten
  2. While I can’t speak to the eco-friendliness of the selectcomfort beds – I would never-ever own another bed again. We have two models – one in our bedroom and one in our guest room. The difference between the models is price and features. Both my husband and I had one before we moved in together – I had the cheapest one with two chambers.

    Here’s why it might be considered eco-friendly:
    1) air chambers, no filling other than foam supports
    2) 20 yr warranty on the mattress, air chambers and the pump, so it last longer. My husband has had his for 10 yrs, and that’s the one we sleep on every night. His parents have had theirs for 15 years, and are still happy with it.

    Here’s some why it may not be:
    1) uses a bit of electric power when you need to adjust the bed (and if you have temperature fluctuations, you’ll need to – air pressure changes based on temp of the air)
    2) plastic “box spring” – it’s really a hollow foundation box, and you could probably build one by putting a piece of plywood over your existing boxspring. It just needs to be a flat surface to rest the mattress on.

    April 30th, 2009 at 1:20 pm
    Comment by elwing
  3. I’m interested to see what you find that is green. We’ve had ours about 6 years too and it’s not holding up that well!

    April 30th, 2009 at 1:56 pm
    Comment by Dianne
  4. We went to Keetsa about five months ago and got the Tea Leaf Supreme, which is the memory foam mattress. (http://shop.keetsa.com/products/tea-leaf-supreme) We didn’t get a platform, just put it on our old box spring. We love our bed! Only time will tell how well it holds up over the years, but I’m hopeful, and am still enjoying how comfy our bed is compared to our old bed.

    I had been looking for an organic mattress, but had a hard time finding a place I could try one out before I bought. I finally found a place in Berkeley (Earthsake) that stocked organic mattresses, so we took a trip to try them out, and on the way to 4th Street we passed the Keetsa store with a big sign talking about Eco-mattresses, so we stopped in.

    No, our mattress isn’t organic, but it if so comfy, VOC free, and the reduced amount of packing materials and shipping fuel costs seemed like a good trade off. Our mattress came in a small-ish box (if we hadn’t had my in-laws with us, we could have brought it home with us in the back seat of our Prius) and popped up to its full size when we unpacked it. And after months of trying to find the “best” mattress option it was such a relief to find one I didn’t feel bad about buying.

    The company’s sustainable practices seem to be heading in the right direction, and they do seem to be open to ways they can do better.

    I even found a home for our old mattress through Craig’s list (being totally upfront about its age and condition) The guy who took our old mattress away was thrilled, since he had moved to the state a month before and had been sleeping on an air mattress…

    April 30th, 2009 at 3:35 pm
    Comment by BlueFish
  5. i’ve found keetsa and eMatress as good eco-friendly mattress companies to check out!
    http://www.greenerist.com/?s=mattress&x=0&y=0

    April 30th, 2009 at 5:55 pm
    Comment by steve
  6. I do think 15-20 years is an unrealistic amt of time for a mattress to remain comfortable. 10 years is the max, in my opinion. But if you want to keep your new bed out of the landfill for the longest period of time, buy a two-sided mattress. They are harder to find, but they’re out there.

    May 1st, 2009 at 8:00 am
    Comment by sleepspert
  7. [...] friend Allie wants your help finding an eco-friendly mattress. Have any experience with one? Head over and let her know – and I will be watching for when I [...]

    May 1st, 2009 at 10:00 am
    Pingback by Quick Green Reads For The Weekend Volume 115. | The Good Human
  8. Okay, I thought that first comment was from my friend Kirsten and then I read the part about the three year old daughter and nearly had a heart attack. Oops.

    Anyway, I had never heard of Keetsa mattresses but now I am dying to try one out. We bought ours two years ago and it already sags in the middle and we wake up with stiff, sore backs. Can’t wait to hear what you figure out!

    May 1st, 2009 at 1:14 pm
    Comment by nancypearlwannabe
  9. Count me in for another thumbs up for Keetsa! They were even more inexpensive than regular mattresses at bigbox stores. My Keetsa mattress is very comfortable and I LOVE IT. I’m not sure there are a ton of truly “organic” options out there, but Keetsa seems committed to continually improving their sustainability practices. Since I bought mine from there, they’ve added even more info to their website. Here’s more about their eco-friendliness: http://keetsa.com/about/

    May 1st, 2009 at 1:20 pm
    Comment by catherine
  10. Six years?! That’s ridiculous.

    Just buy a couple of hand-sewn, organic cotton hammocks, string them up in the bedroom, and call it good. Sleeping while folded in half is good for the back, right?

    May 2nd, 2009 at 2:31 pm
    Comment by mickey
  11. Latex (pretty much) lasts forever.

    Every type of foam loses its shape (or support level) over a period of time. Well-constructed mattresses usually hold up for 2-6 years (especially if turned over each 6 months).

    Latex foam, however, retains its shape without ever flipping the mattress. It also supports the same. So, I have “lived” on my mattress for 16 years (and my cousin has used hers for about 20 years).

    P.S., latex works equally well in sofa cushions.

    May 5th, 2009 at 4:40 am
    Comment by Dennis
  12. [...] of testimonials from people who have happily had latex mattresses for 15 to 20 years.  Comments on my other mattress post supported this.  And, I exchanged e-mails with Katie at PranaSleep.  She confirmed that [...]

    May 7th, 2009 at 12:48 pm
    Pingback by Our New Mattress
  13. Last year we ended up going with a sleep number bed and gave away our old water bed. We love it so far.
    At the time we never thought of going green with a mattress purchase. If we had to do it again I would seriously consider Keetsa.

    June 2nd, 2009 at 10:46 pm
    Comment by Robert
  14. First off Select Comfort is NOT eco and here’s why.
    a) the “air chambers” are made from vinyl. Horrible for your health and the environment
    b) all the foam and fabrics are man made.

    It all comes down to natural foams and natural fabrics.

    June 12th, 2009 at 2:28 pm
    Comment by jason
  15. I wanted a natural latex mattress because it is eco friendly and much more durable. Synthetic latex breaks down faster and I think it releases some sort of fumes (made from petrochemicals). They tap the rubber trees which remove C02 from the air.

    Natural latex mattresses are more expensive than synthetics, but well worth the price. I replaced my 20-year-old king-size water bed with a twin (because I wanted room for sewing and the bed took up the entire room. I wish I would have gone to a full-size because it’s hard going from a king-size to a twin-size–but that’s another story.)

    I bought my mattress online from Habitat Furnishings because it was so much cheaper than the Vera Wang natural latex mattress at the furniture store. There was a 180-day money-back guarantee (although I would have had to pay for shipping), a 20-year warranty, and I also received a natural latex pillow to go with it. The mattresses aren’t manufactured until they are ordered, so I had to wait a few weeks. But it is very comfortable, and no dust mites (hurray!).

    June 12th, 2009 at 4:19 pm
    Comment by Valerie
  16. We’ve been looking at Savvy Rest and OMI mattress (the latex mattresses). The Savvy Rest was rated the most eco by National Geographic’s Green Guide. If you google them, a lot of online stores sell them and will ship for free. We tried them out and they were very comfortable. You can customize the firmness — we like the Soft-Medium-Firm combo.

    As far as I can tell from their website, Keetsa still has 80% petrochemicals in their memory foam — not eco at all. Their bamboo is mixed with polyester, again a material made with plastics. Doesn’t seem very eco to me at all…. Who knows though…

    August 15th, 2009 at 6:38 pm
    Comment by ken
  17. You may want to check us out. Essentia. http://www.myessentia.com

    We make the only natural memory foam in the world. Petroleum free mattresses that are biodegradable, made in Canada, will last 20+ years and are crazy comfortable.

    Free shipping throughout the USA and Canada.

    GREEN should not mean 12% better for the environment and shipped from China. aka Keetsa. (sorry guys, you’re just not an honest bunch)

    Our standards should be a little higher than that by now.

    It’s about health too. Why on earth would you sleep on a 88% synthetic product that offgasses?

    Priorities ppl! lol

    An organic cotton spring mattress is around $800 so price is no longer an excuse.

    Keep it GREEN.

    August 26th, 2009 at 10:08 am
    Comment by Essentia
  18. I bought the organic Royal Pedic mattress. I tried the floor model in the store and liked it but the actual mattress I got was a lot firmer. The company wasn’t very sympathetic to my plight and was like, “oh well, too bad,”and actually said on the phone that they didn’t care about customer satisfaction. But if you like firm beds, you might love the Royal Pedic and it does smell really good, very earthy. However, in hindsight, I wish I had went with the OMI mattress. It’s latex and wool and all organic. Now I’m buying an OMI latex topper to go on my expensive dissapointment of a Royal Pedic bed.

    October 24th, 2009 at 5:34 pm
    Comment by Carrie
  19. Don’t know if you are still looking but we had a queen Green Sleep Mattress for 11 years, and just upgraded to a king. They were the most eco we could find – all organic materials, and by far the most comfortable mattress ever. Also probably the most expensive (besides Hastings maybe!)

    December 5th, 2009 at 8:59 pm
    Comment by Mika
  20. Have you reviewed the Vital Rest Organic Collection by Vanguard Mattress at http://www.vanguardmattress.com. This line features 100% Natural Talalay latex, Certified Organic Cotton, Natural Wool and Organic Cotton Covers. This line is also adjustable friendly and two sided for “flipability”, which we all know adds value and longevity to a mattress versus a one sided, non turning, sleep system.

    December 21st, 2009 at 7:07 pm
    Comment by Jeff Gober
  21. Thanks everyone for all the great comments.

    Let me clear up a little misinformation from our friends over at Essentia.

    First, our mattresses have zero toxic off-gassing. We accomplish this by producing our foam by replacing 20% of the sythetic with castor bean oil, then putting the foam through a process that results in no detectable harmful VOC’s. We also use organic cotton and no toxic chemicals to make our fire barrier. We also have a 100% pure EcoTek certified latex mattress as well. All of our products are compress packed for a consolidated shipping that has a proven lower carbon footprint than most mattresses, even after being shipped from overseas. They start at $599 for a queen with a 20 year non-prorated warranty. If you have any questions, visit our website.

    April 21st, 2010 at 4:26 pm
    Comment by Joe
  22. Also, check out the certifications that companies present to back up their claims. There are a lot of dishonest, greenwashing companies out there who make claims about having natural memory foam, but interestingly don’t have any official certifications to back it up.

    April 21st, 2010 at 4:29 pm
    Comment by Joe
  23. Hey, Essentia, your cheapest queen mattress is $2100. Not a very honest bunch are ya? ;)

    April 21st, 2010 at 4:31 pm
    Comment by Joe
  24. i would like more information about eco-friendly mattress.i have been using mine for the last 9yrs and its still holding!!!!!!!!!!

    Tech Help Nerd

    June 11th, 2010 at 1:29 pm
    Comment by Tech Help Nerd
  25. I am curious what Allie (4/30/09) looking for a green mattress ended up with that worked for her and her husband? It would be helpful to all to know the follow up after all the posted feedback. Thank you.

    July 10th, 2010 at 12:22 am
    Comment by Paul Bose
  26. I also would be interested in follow up information. We are interested in Savvy Rest and Green Sleep, however we have to go about 3 1/2 hours away to test Green Sleep. I just read a terrible review of Green Sleep so now I am afraid of it, yet I am intrigued by their slat, bed frame system. Is it worth it?

    Does anyone have experience with Savvy Rest? How about customer service for both of these companies?

    September 22nd, 2010 at 1:18 pm
    Comment by Jennifer
  27. Hi Jennifer! We ended up with a Prana Sleep latex mattress. I did a post on it here – http://thegreenists.com/health/our-new-mattress/3728
    We’ve had it for over a year now and I’m still absolutely thrilled with it. In my office/our guest room, I have a futon with a natural fiber mattress and a memory foam pad on top (that I believe is somehow made from soybeans). If you’re looking for a less expensive option, that might be something to try. I’ve slept on it when snoring dogs drove me out, and it’s quite comfortable – not the same as our mattress, but another option.

    September 22nd, 2010 at 1:23 pm
    Comment by Allie
  28. JOE, having now read your posts on 2 sites, I must say, you sure “import” beds better than you “export” yourself.

    I have tried and researched your good beds. I have reasonable eco-standards and might buy one.

    But you are one angry dude. Stop pissing about your jaded competitor’s comments and just purchase, then sell, better and better beds. .

    We’ll buy them if it makes sense for us.
    Grace in the Face,
    robin mclean

    October 9th, 2010 at 12:39 pm
    Comment by ROBIN
  29. i’m curious as to what truly is the makeup of essentia mattresses? does anyone know. are they certified by any third parties?

    November 30th, 2010 at 6:05 pm
    Comment by anni
  30. You can check out this website. It lets you know what materials are in essentia mattresses, and also shows how they compare with other mattresses: http://www.myessentia.com/research/glues-toxic-components

    December 15th, 2010 at 4:35 pm
    Comment by Alice
  31. If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my green mattress research, it’s to not trust anything on Essentia’s web site. Lots of lies on there. Has that company no shame?! Come on – please.

    If you follow the link above, it lists Styrene butadiene as a wax and a non-toxic chemical (yellow dot). XXXXXXX – It’s synthetic rubber!

    Google “styrene-butadiene cancer” and see if that component of Essentia mattresses looks very green to you…

    May 18th, 2011 at 1:21 am
    Comment by Cindy
  32. FYI there’s a great series about green mattresses here: http://www.triplepundit.com/2011/06/whats-really-green-look-mattresses-part-iii-2/

    Follow the links to Part I (about the greenwashing problem) and Part II (about green attributes to look for in components). Part III is all about mattress eco-labels.

    No wonder this topic is so complicated!

    June 5th, 2011 at 4:08 pm
    Comment by Samantha
  33. FYI that Essentia table is a joke. Essentia’s web site is full of more BS than the National Enquirer.

    Look below the table at the description of sytrene butadeine.

    Then google “styrene cancer” and see what you find…

    June 5th, 2011 at 4:10 pm
    Comment by Samantha
  34. We all like different things, including bedding companies. Thats what makes world go round! I personally love MY Keetsa BUt if you dont thats Ok.

    Melissa Cullen
    Las Vegas, NV

    June 17th, 2011 at 7:32 pm
    Comment by melissa cullen
  35. I really appreciate the information. I def want organic bedding as I have horrible allergies. Will look at both your suggestions, but i def am learning !

    Luv, Pam

    June 17th, 2011 at 7:35 pm
    Comment by Pam Paynes
  36. I am constantly annoyed by the ‘greenwashing’ that companies engage in, by which I mean calling something eco-friendly or green that is at best a step in the right direction.

    After hearing so many good things about Keetsa I was kind of shocked and dissapointed to read the following on their website about why they are eco friendly:

    ‘ Keetsa has innovated Bio-foam™, a new type of memory foam that replaces a portion of the petroleum oil with castor bean oil, a natural plant oil ‘

    A ‘portion’! What does that even mean? 1%?

    August 2nd, 2011 at 9:36 am
    Comment by chvdwalt
  37. Well does anyone have a happy result to share??? I am trying to buy a bed and now I’m more confused than ever!! I’m going to Essentia today to try one of theirs, as I haven’t seen anything more impressive, lies or not???
    When did buying a bed and trying not to be killed by gasses get so difficult.geezzzz

    September 16th, 2011 at 4:07 pm
    Comment by Lenore
  38. Essentia mattresses are 3rd party tested. http://www.myessentia.com/certifications.

    I saw the tests results. Only at 0.000000001ppm were their VOC’s found.

    November 7th, 2011 at 2:38 pm
    Comment by dave

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