If your mattress is old and no longer supportive, sleeping on it can have severe consequences. Not only are you risking your health, but you are also denying yourself the luxury of sleeping on a comfortable bed. Is your mattress sagging or showing signs of wear? Then you should replace it as soon as possible. But when you do that, have you ever asked yourself – what will happen to my old mattress?
Mattresses have a lifespan of up to ten years. Therefore, this isn’t a question you are going to answer regularly. But when the time comes, what will you do? Most people don’t know that your decision can have a tremendous impact on the environment. If you decide to send it to the landfill, you won’t be making this world a better place!
Understandably, some of us may not be aware of the negative impacts of mattresses on the environment. Keep reading to learn more about this and what you should do with your old mattress after getting a new one.
What are the Negative Environmental Impacts of Mattresses?
What do you think happens when you send an old mattress to the landfills? Allow us to fill you in. first, you should know that more than twenty million mattresses are discarded in landfills annually. Mattresses take up a considerable amount of space. Imagine how much space twenty million mattresses would consume?
That aside, beds aren’t the easiest objects to compact. The landfill workers must use advanced equipment to do that. All these issues lead to one thing – an increase in carbon footprint. As if that’s not enough, not all mattresses are eco-friendly. Most of them comprise petroleum-based ingredients, which are toxic when exposed to the environment.
How Do Mattresses Impact the Environment?
Contrary to popular opinion, the ingredients found in a mattress aren’t the only things that increase the carbon footprint. Let’s dig deeper into how mattresses impact the environment.
1. Materials Used
The materials used to make most mattresses, such as memory foam, are toxic. The likes of polyurethane pose a big challenge to sustainable living.
2. Pollutants Produced from the Manufacture and Transportation of Mattresses
Another environmental issue that most people aren’t aware of is the pollution that occurs during mattress manufacture and transportation. Significant amounts of energy are used for the mass production of beds. As these beds get transported from the factory to wholesale and retail shops, pollution from fuel also occurs. When combined, both these sources of pollution affect the environment.
3. Chemical and Fuel Emissions
If you have done some research on mattress shopping, then you must have come across the term VOCs. These are volatile organic compounds that are released from a mattress. VOCs off-gas, mostly when a bed is new. The smell can be strong and choking, especially if the bedroom lacks proper ventilation. These fumes may not react with your body immediately, but long term exposure can lead to serious health issues.
4. Mattress Waste
The last way beds affect the environment is when they get too old. An old mattress is rendered unsupportive and uncomfortable. So, what do the owners do? Send them to the landfill or discard the beds in ways they know best. When you re-introduce mattress waste back to the environment, all the toxins and chemical emissions will go along with it.
Undoubtedly, mattresses aren’t the most environmentally friendly products in the market, more so the traditional ones. At the same time, human beings can’t live without mattresses.
So, What Should We Do?
As a mattress shopper and a person who wants to promote sustainable living, we understand that you can feel overwhelmed on what to do when your mattress wears out. Should you continue suffering in pain so that you can protect the planet? Not really. There are ways to dispose of your mattress responsibly without impacting the environment. They include;
Recycling is one of the best ways how to promote sustainable living. Instead of sending your mattress to the landfill, why don’t you recycle it? If you don’t know where to start, we will be glad to let you know that there are three options when it comes to mattress recycling.
- Self-Recycling – For those who have the willpower and time, self-recycling is an excellent idea. You can even make some money from your old mattress. This involves taking apart the different materials in your bed and taking them to a recycling centre. Should you come across anything that has value, you can sell it.
- Local Recycling Centre – Many people nowadays understand the importance of taking care of the environment. This has led to the creation of recycling facilities in different parts of the country. If you do more research, you should find a recycling centre near your home. Recycling fees are usually low. The only thing that might cost more is the pick-up fees. If you compare paying for recycling services and the environmental impacts of sending a mattress to a landfill, isn’t it better to spare a few bucks so that you can save the world?
- Mattress Companies – Some companies understand the importance of proper mattress disposal. A good example is Saatva. If you buy a Saatva bed, you will get white glove delivery. This entails experts from the mattress company delivering the mattress in person, setting it up and taking your old mattress for proper disposal. As you shop for mattresses, always confirm if the company runs such a service. This will save you the headache of recycling a bed by yourself or taking it to the local recycling centre.
2. Donate Your Old Mattress
The other thing you can do with your mattress is to donate it. There are many places where you can donate a mattress. You can take it to a charity centre looking for furniture donations. You can also take it to a non-profit thrift store. When you donate a mattress, it can help another person in need. That is way much better than sending it to the landfill.
3. Attempt to Extend Your Mattress Life
There are tips that can help you extend your mattress life. Before listing them, you should know that these tips mostly apply to new or slightly used beds. If your mattress is already worn out, there is pretty much nothing you can do to make it last longer than that.
Anyway, you can use the following tips to increase the lifespan of your bed to avoid discarding it sooner.
- Flip and rotate the mattress after every two weeks. This will promote even wear. If you don’t rotate a mattress, it will start to sag on the side you like sleeping on the most.
- Regularly clean the mattress. If the cover is washable, take it off a least twice a month and wash it. You should also vacuum and expose the bed to heat treatment. A clean mattress will serve you for longer.
- Do not jump on the bed. Also, avoid folding the mattress.
- Finally, you need to avoid putting heavy objects on the bed. The only things that should be on your mattress are beddings and your body when it’s time to sleep. Suitcases, clothes and other objects shouldn’t be on your bed.
4. Opt for Eco-Friendly Mattresses
If we all knew the environmental impacts of mattresses, everyone would be sleeping on an eco-friendly bed. Unfortunately, we don’t, and the environment has to pay the price of our negligence. If you have an eco-friendly mattress, you will not be worried about releasing petroleum-based products into the atmosphere when it gets old. Eco-friendly beds are easy to recycle and don’t impact the environment. Please note that a lot of manufacturers are misusing the word environmentally friendly. It’s important to double-check if a mattress is indeed natural.
A Quick Guide on Finding an Eco-friendly Mattress
Unethical manufacturers will say anything to convince you to buy their bed. A word that gets loosely thrown around in the mattress market is ‘eco-friendly’. Here are some tips to help you identify an eco-friendly bed.
- Be on the lookout for VOCs. If you are shopping in a mattress store, keep off beds that smell like chemicals (VOCs).
- Don’t believe everything manufacturers tell you. Instead, ask for certifications and a list of ingredients used. A mattress company can use about 10% of natural materials and throw in all the eco words you can think of on the packaging. Ask for the ingredients used and third party certifications.
- Know that eco-friendly beds are not cheap. Low quality and chemical materials are cheaper. This is why most environmentally unfriendly mattresses go for very low prices. A bed made using natural materials should have a decent price tag. This also doesn’t mean all expensive high-end beds are made using natural materials.
If you want to make an impact in reducing your carbon footprint, start with your mattress. Swapping it out for an eco-friendlier option will promote sustainable living and, at the same time, keep you safe from chemicals and toxins. Please don’t throw away your old mattress. Take it to the recycling centre instead of the landfills. Greener mattresses are an excellent choice for anyone who is environmentally conscious.
Q: What is an eco-friendly mattress?
A: This is a bed whose materials and production methods have no harmful effect on the environment.
Q: What materials are in an eco-friendly mattress?
A: Wool, bamboo, natural latex and organic cotton are excellent examples of eco-friendly mattress materials.
Q: Do mattresses decompose?
A: Mattresses that contain non-biodegradable synthetic ingredients do not decompose. They can last for years. During that period, they will be polluting the environment.
Q: Are mattresses bad for the environment?
A: Not all mattresses are bad for the environment. Those that contain chemicals and harmful ingredients increase our carbon footprint. However, if you go with greener options, there won’t be much effect.
Q: What are the most environmentally friendly mattresses?
A: Some mattress brands are known for their contribution to making green mattresses. Examples include; Saatva, Avocado, PlushBeds, Birch and Awara Organic, amongst others.