If you are shopping for a healthy and eco-friendly mattress, you may want to consider a plant-based memory foam mattress. These are relatively new on the scene, aiming to provide healthy and sustainable alternatives to synthetic materials in beds.
As you may have read in our previous article, “Are Memory Foam Mattresses Safe for Your Family?” there are some concerns with certain chemicals in mattresses. We tried to address most of them, but we didn’t dive into plant-based memory foam much. Here you’ll find all you need to know about this new material.
The Search for a Healthy and Eco-Friendly Mattress
We all want to do our part to leave the planet in good shape for those who come after us. One of the biggest reasons people start looking into a green memory foam mattress is their concern for their environment.
People are also impressed by the healthy aspects of the low-VOC polyurethane, as they emit fewer chemicals into indoor air. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) have been linked to a host of health issues. Plant-based memory foam is known to produce fewer of these toxic chemicals than other types.
Often what is good for the Earth is good for us, too. Plants have been on the planet for hundreds of millions of years and they aren’t going anywhere. Products made from natural materials are more like the types of things our bodies evolved to be in and around.
Petroleum resources are also finite, so using replaceable materials also makes plant-derived memory foam more sustainable.
Is There a Safe and Eco-Friendly Mattress Out There?
|Mattress Type||Top Brand and Model||% of Customers Complaints of Significant Odor||Owner Satisfaction|
|Plant-Based||Amerisleep Liberty Bed||<5%||92%|
|Gel (w/traditional)||Sealy Optimum||9%||77%|
Data from verified customer reviews from retail sites and independent reviewer SleepLikeTheDead.com.
There are many different brands of memory foam mattresses on the market. Each model by each manufacturer is different from the next and each new year brings new models. Trying to keep track of them all would be maddening. Though each is different, they are made from essentially three types of foam.
In the table above, we listed a top brand from each type of memory foam to compare owner reports of mattress offgassing and overall satisfaction.
Plant-Based Memory Foam: How is it Different?
The three types of foams used are traditional, gel and plant-based memory foam. They each are different as a result of the materials used in their construction. Let’s take a look at the three types and see how they compare.
Plant-Based Memory Foam Mattress
Memory foam was originally made using petroleum-based chemicals called polyols. These alcohols can also be sustainably derived from plant matter. Oil is a finite resource, but plants are renewable; we can grow them indefinitely, making these eco-friendly mattresses. Aside from being a more sustainable way to make beds, they also tend to emit fewer VOCs in finished products than other types of memory foams.
Traditional Memory Foam Mattress
Petroleum-based traditional memory foams are the original type of foam developed back in the 1960s. As mentioned, the polyols used to make these beds is made from petroleum, which is cheap and abundant, but perhaps not as healthy for indoor air as most people would like.
Gel Memory Foam Mattress
Much like their traditional predecessors, gel memory foam mattresses are petroleum based. The polyols used in their production are derived from oil byproducts. Gels are basically traditional foams with gel added to them in order to help the foam feel cooler, with limited results. The gels are made from a number of chemicals, many will likely not be disclosed by the retailer.
Health Benefits of an Eco-Friendly Mattress
One of the best things about having a eco-friendly mattress is the potential for health benefits. This perhaps explains their rise in popularity more than anything. People are becoming more aware of the chemicals in and around our homes and the health effects they cause. It seems every day we hear of a new toxin to be mindful of.
As we become more and more inundated with toxicity in our homes and workplaces these toxins can accumulate in our bodies. Switching to an eco-friendly mattress will help lower the amounts you are exposed to for one-third of your life, which is about how long we spend sleeping. Here is a closer look at what a plant-based memory foam mattress may have to offer.
Low VOC Polyurethane
The foam used in plant-based memory foam is known to be a lower VOC polyurethane. Fewer VOCs will be emitted by these beds when compared to synthetic foams. This is important as VOCs have been associated with many health issues including, but not limited to:
- skin irritation
- respiratory problems
- eye, nose and throat irritation
- liver, kidney and central nervous system damage
If you’re not being embalmed, you don’t really want formaldehyde in your body. Commonly produced as a byproduct of adhesive in mattresses, formaldehyde is associated with a host of health problems. Many plant-based memory foam mattress retailers, like Amerisleep, are trying to eliminate toxic chemicals from our beds. These companies actively avoid using many substances many others wouldn’t think twice about.
Formaldehyde is no laughing matter. It is associated with the following health problems:
- lung, nose and throat cancers
Finding a Plant-Based Memory Foam Mattress
There are many reasons to consider an eco-friendly mattress. If you’re looking to find one, make sure to do your research. Not all companies who claim to have an eco-friendly mattress actually do. Some companies may not be as concerned with eliminating toxic chemicals at all, instead using advertising to attract eco-conscious consumers.
There are some great options available. People concerned with sustainability finally have products they can buy without feeling like a sellout. A plant-based memory foam mattress is the eco-friendly mattress you’ve been waiting for.