FTC Issues Warning about Deceptive Certifications

In this day and age, there’s so much information available it is almost detrimental to making an informed decision, and this is especially evident in the mattress world. It has become a “wild, wild, West” full of claims, many of which the FTC has found alarming. In an effort to lend consumers more transparency (and less greenwashing) they have warned 32 businesses and five certifiers that certain claims, logos, and certifications lack information and miss the mark in complying with the FTC’s environmental marketing requirements.



Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, explains, “… if the seals’ claims are broader than the products’ benefits, they can deceive people. We are holding companies accountable for their green claims.” The blog post, Performing Seals, produced by the FTC, communicates to marketers what a legit claim is and is not.

If this has left you feeling a bit defeated, you are not alone, and there is hope! The FTC publishes “Green Guides” to help consumers navigate through the confusion of endless claims and greenwashing.


For a comprehensive guide to legitimate third-party certifications and the highest organic mattress standards, you can also check out Lifekind’s Purity Promise guarantee. Be well and sleep safe!



Are there federal requirements for calling a mattress “organic”?

Answer: Yes. And verifying these requirements is the only way to make sure you’re not falling victim to fraudulent advertising claims when shopping for an organic mattress.

The government agency that controls use of the word “organic” is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), under Title XXI of the 1990 Farm Bill, otherwise known as The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990.

This Act established national standards governing the marketing of certain agricultural products as organically produced products in order to assure consumers that organically produced products meet a consistent standard and to facilitate fairness within interstate commerce.

USDA control over use of the word “organic” extends to non-edible agricultural crops such as cotton and rubber trees, and further extends to non-edible products derived from livestock, such as wool.

To call any of these raw materials “organic,” each producer must meet the requirements listed in the Act and subject its facility and products to annual audit by a USDA-approved “certifying agent.”

Furthermore, for a complex finished textile product, such as a mattress, to be called organic it must be composed of a minimum of 95% certified raw materials as listed above. Then independently, the company manufacturing the mattress must also meet the requirements as listed in the Act and to subject its facility and finished products to an independent annual textile audit to standards such as GOTS, by a USDA-approved certifying agent.

Therefore, to call a mattress “organic” or to sell it as such, the company producing the mattress must earn independent organic status and be awarded an organic certificate annually in their name. This means that a mattress cannot be called organic simply because it is made up of one, some, or even all organic raw materials. It is the “certifying agent” that substantiates that the organic claim being made is actually true. It must be a USDA-approved certifying agent, who through an audit process can give a company legitimate claim or right to use the term “organic.”

Legislation in the United States established the Federal Trade Commission Act in1914. Under this Act, the Commission is empowered to, among other things, prevent unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive consumer acts or representations affecting commerce.

If a company calls its product “organic” and its facility, methods, and specific products have not been awarded organic status by a USDA-approved certifying agent, that claim is deceptive, and constitutes an unfair method of competition in the marketplace. Unfair marketing claims fall under the purview of the FTC.

Specific to environmental claims, the FTC has published the “Green Guide.” While the guide defines a number of environmental terms and correct use and association of logos and seals, the primary emphasis of the document is substantiation. Environmental marketing claims must be substantiated.

Section 5 of the FTC Act prohibits deceptive acts and practices in or affecting commerce. A representation, omission, or practice is deceptive if it is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances and is material to consumers’ decisions. See FTC Policy Statement on Deception, 103 FTC 174 (1983). To determine if an advertisement is deceptive, marketers must identify all express and implied claims that the advertisement reasonably conveys. Marketers must ensure that all reasonable interpretations of their claims are truthful, not misleading, and supported by a reasonable basis before they make the claims. See FTC Policy Statement Regarding Advertising Substantiation, 104 FTC 839 (1984).

In the context of environmental marketing claims, a reasonable basis often requires competent and reliable scientific evidence. Such evidence consists of tests, analyses, research, or studies that have been conducted and evaluated in an objective manner by qualified persons and are generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate and reliable results. Such evidence should be sufficient in quality and quantity based on standards generally accepted in the relevant scientific fields, when considered in light of the entire body of relevant and reliable scientific evidence, to substantiate that each of the marketing claims is true.

James Kohm is the Associate Director for the Enforcement Division of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. In that capacity, he oversees enforcement of all consumer protection orders and the Commission’s Green Marketing program. When Mr. Kohm spoke on January 27, 2013 at the World Market Center, he made clear that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) does not define what is or can be called organic. The FTC can conduct investigations relating to the organization, business, practices, and management of entities engaged in commerce and seek monetary redress and other relief for conduct injurious to consumers and other businesses from unsubstantiated environmental claims. Review the following links that report FTC investigation of unsubstantiated claims:







At Lifekind, we’ve worked hard to establish and maintain a comprehensive organic program. This ensures the creation and assurance of certified organic goods. Testing, quality assurance, lot tracking, purchasing organic raw materials (despite the higher cost), and spending thousands annually on auditing are just a few of the ways in which we keep our rigorous organic program in place. Third-party certification is the only thing protecting us from companies that do none of these things, but would try nevertheless to reap marketing dollars by fraudulently associating the term “organic” with their products.

It does not fall to the consumer or retailer to judge what is or is not organic. For a company to call its products “organic” it must have been granted organic status by a USDA-approved “certifying agent.” The consumer need only confirm a valid certificate with the company’s name and products listed, not a certification showing he name of a grower or producer. At Lifekind, we’ve covered all the bases, so you can “rest” assured you’re purchasing a TRULY organic mattress.

8 Misleading Claims about Organic Mattresses – Is Your Mattress Certified Organic?


Misleading Claim #1: Merchants using organic logos, or statements that use the word “organic,” to describe their mattresses as “organic” or partially “organic.”
Incorrect Because: Under USDA National Organic Program regulations (USDA/NOP), there are no such categories. There is only “certified organic.”

Misleading Claim #2: Merchants claiming that since they use the same organic materials that are used in certified organic mattresses, why pay more?
Incorrect Because: Without submitting to an independent third-party audit, a consumer has no assurance that whatever organic component is claimed to be used was actually used in making a mattress.

Misleading Claim #3: Merchants claiming that since the materials they use are the same as those used by true organic manufacturers, what’s the difference?
Incorrect Because: Fast food and fine dining can include the same ingredients, but the outcomes are quite different—it’s about quality and purity, not just materials.

Misleading Claim #4: Merchants using someone else’s certification to infer it is their own, but somehow doesn’t have their name on it for a string of reasons.
Incorrect Because: USDA certification certificates are not transferable.

Misleading Claim #5: Merchants claiming their mattresses are “chemical free.”
Incorrect Because: This is scientifically impossible.

Misleading Claim #6: Merchants claiming their mattresses are “nontoxic.”
Incorrect Because: This is also scientifically impossible.

Misleading Claim #7: Merchants claiming their mattresses are “free of volatile organic compounds (VOCS)” or have no harmful outgassing.
Incorrect Because: This is also scientifically impossible, and without an independentUL/GREENGUARD™ or similar test for finished-product emissions, no one can possibly know exact outgassing levels.

Misleading Claim #8: Merchants claiming that their components have been tested for the presence of a long list of chemicals and that none were found.
Incorrect Because: What this means is that the mattress components may have been tested at one point, early in the process, by what is known as a “presence” test. True, these chemicals may not have been present at that time, but it gives absolutely no information as to what is actually emitting from the finished mattress. That is a consumer assurance UL/GREENGUARD™ testing provides.

Find out if a mattress is in fact listed on the certifier’s website.

Note: The name of the manufacturer or retailer must be entered precisely, such as “Organic Mattresses, Inc.”





What’s in a Name?

That which we call organic by any other name would be as clean…right? Well, maybe not. The other day I ran across an article on the SFGate website that got me thinking about the importance of the language used by manufacturers of “organic” nonfood items. As the author of the article pointed out, there is a clear set of standards that makes the distinction between organic food and that which is genetically modified, irradiated and/or exposed to pesticides. That is to say, any food item that bears the name “organic” must actually live up to it! Unfortunately, the same is NOT true when it comes to nonfood items. The U.S. Department of Agriculture does little to oversee use of the term “organic” on items that are not edible (and neither does the Federal Trade Commission, for fear of “duplicating” USDA duties). So basically, there are no government regulations set in place to distinguish between the truly organic and the naturally-sourced “chemical soup” when it comes to cleaning products, personal care products and textiles. Calling your shampoo “organic” could be about as subjective as calling your computer “cute.”


So, what does this mean for the consumer?

Should we even bother shelling out the extra cash for products that may or may not be as pure as they claim to be…? The good news is that there ARE third-party certifications out there that can help us make informed decisions about our organic purchases. When it comes to personal care products, the National Sanitation Foundation and the American National Standards Institute have formed a private certification called “NSF/ANSI 305.” And for those who live by the adage “If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin,” the USDA label can be found on personal care items that are composed of at least 95% organic “food.” For textile products — items like clothing, sheets and mattresses — consumers can verify purity by looking for the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) certifications.

USDA Organic, GOLS and GOTS logo

Other things to look out for…

Organic” is not the only term that can be misleading. The term “natural” is generally assumed to mean that an item is minimally processed and does not contain particular additives. However, this word does not have an established legal definition…therefore, there is no standard by which to substantiate this claim — whether we are talking about food or nonfood items. Similarly, terms like “green,” “eco-friendly,” and “earth-friendly” have no real meaning because there is no scientific or regulatory basis for them.


Using our resources…

Taking the time to research products that are truly organic may seem like a chore, but it is certainly worth the extra effort. Keep in mind that most certification programs not only oversee the ingredients that go into the products, but also the way in which those ingredients are obtained. So when we choose items that are certified organic, we are not only protecting ourselves and our families, but also our environment. Let’s take advantage of our educational resources, so that we can be better stewards of earth’s resources!

** Use the links on this page to learn more about third-party organic certifications and find lists of the manufacturers who hold them. Also, check out this website for some excellent information about deciphering the language used by manufacturers of bedding and mattresses.


Best Organic Kids Mattress

Kids breathe and absorb toxic chemicals on an ordinary mattress!

A kids mattress SHOULD be nontoxic. Conventional mattresses are made from an array of petrochemicals, synthetic materials and chemical additives (flame retardant chemicals, mercury, boric acid, and formaldehyde).  Kids spend a lot of time on their mattresses especially when they are very young.  Sleep is important for healthy development, not to mention their mood. Do you spend the extra time to provide your kids with healthy food to put in their bodies?  Don’t you want your kids to spend the time that is supposed to rejuventate their minds and bodies in a clean, nontoxic environment?

The Shasta – Best Organic Kids Mattress


Lifekind’s Hand-Tufted Natural Rubber certified organic twin mattress (The Shasta) is the best organic mattress for kids.  It is our most budget-friendly natural rubber latex organic mattress.

Fire Protection Done Wrong 

Conventional mattresses are drenched in toxic chemical flame retardants.  Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are used in conventional mattresses to lower the risk and slow the spread of fire.  How many kids do you know who are smoking a cigar when they go to bed?   When kids sleep at night, they breathe in the PBDEs that offgas from the mattress. 2010 study found that “children with higher concentrations of PBDE congeners in their umbilical cord blood at birth scored lower on tests of mental and physical development between the ages of one and six. Developmental effects were particularly evident at four years of age, when verbal and full IQ scores were reduced 5.5 to 8.0 points for those with the highest prenatal exposures.”  There is a ton of information on the internet about the risks of exposer to PBDEs, so why not avoid the risk altogether?  

Other flame-retardant chemicals currently approved for use in mattresses include:

Antimony, a metal that may be more toxic than mercury
Boric acid, a toxic respiratory irritant used as an insecticide
Formaldehyde, which has been classified as a known human carcinogen

Fire Protection Done Right 

My favorite thing about Lifekind certified organic mattresses (that’s a mouthful!) is the absence of chemical flame retardants.  Not only are their organic mattresses made completely from certified organic materials, but they aren’t dipped in chemical flame retardants.  A lot of companies that, claim to be organic use kevlar as their flame retardant. Kevlar is a petrochemical material used in bullet-proof vests. Not Lifekind – we just use naturally safer Wool!  The Shasta organic kids mattress has passed the same flame retardant tests that chemical laden mattresses pass, so you are not risking any fire danger by choosing the organic option.  The secret? The Naturally Safer® pure wool under the cover is packed tightly.  I know, it seems so simple.

Lifekind’s Organic Mattress Factory’s Burn Test – OMI

Organic Certifications

GOLSThis organic kids mattress is filled with GOLS certified organic latex rubber and has layers of Naturally Safer® pure wool beneath the certified organic cotton surface of the mattress to create natural flame protection.  


GREENGUARD_Gold_RGB_GreenLifekind’s organic kids Shasta mattress is Greenguard Certified, which means that it has extremely low chemical emissions.  Why is that important?  It lets you know that you can trust Lifekind’s claim that this product is safe, that a third party has tested it.  Your child will be sleeping in a high-quality, nontoxic, organic natural mattress.  Reducing your child’s exposer to harmful chemicals at night.


gots-logo_cmyk_epsKOLifekind’s factory, located in Northern California, is the first and only large-scale 100%-organic mattress Eco-Factory™ in North America. Oregon Tilth has certified our entire facility to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). That means that every product that is made in this factory is organic.

 Provide your child with safe and healthy sleep.


This is my son, Daniel, on a Lifekind organic mattress. Made in America!

Here are some of the features of the Shasta that make it such a great organic option for children:

•  Filled with 6” of pure shredded natural organic rubber

•  Layers of Naturally Safer® pure wool beneath the surface of the certified organic cotton cover, which provide extra cushioning and natural flammability protection

•  Medium-firm feel

•  Mold-, mildew-, and dust-mite resistant (reduces allergy exposure)

•  Metal-free

•  Available in twin and twin extra-long only

•  Depth: Approximately 7”

•  Handmade in the USA

•  90-Day Comfort Exchange

•  20-year limited warranty

Can you reduce your child’s chemical exposure at night while a chemical mattress is still in their bedroom?

An Organic Barrier Cover can help reduce your childs exposure to dust mites, but not to toxic outgassing.  You should not purchase a plastic cover because it will offgas on its own.

Use a HEPA filter to clean the air

Vacuum your child’s room option

Use a wet cloth to remove dust

Use organic pillows

 Lifekind’s other Organic Options

Lifekind also has several other organic mattress choices for kids that also ship free the month of May 2014.  My 3 boys spent their early years on a Lifekind Organic Natural Rubber Crib Mattress, which I am now handing down to my little brother.  This organic mattress was built to last.  I used organic flannel and moisture pads on it and it still looks brand new, 9 years later.  I am glad that I reduced my children’s exposure to chemicals.


Sleep Safe in a Toxic World

Organic Mattresses, Inc. passes CPSC flammability audit

Dr Mercola article – Is your mattress making you sick





Prenatal Exposure to PBDEs and Neurodevelopment

GOLS certification


7 Mindful Shopping Practices

Twenty years ago organic food was not so popular, but I sought it out. People would ask me, a struggling single mother at the time, how I could afford organic groceries. The heart of my decision to shop organic was, and still is, the principle of it. I know I’m directly supporting the environmental movement every day, plain and simple.

Today organic groceries can be found in almost every grocery store in America. Healthier, organic food has become the norm for many, and there is more collective knowledge about what organic means.

 Screen shot 2014-03-04 at 11.44.53 AM


This message isn’t about healthy food. It’s about sustainable choices. We need to embrace change (yesterday!) and apply what we’ve learned about the food we eat to products we buy for everyday use. The chemicals used in conventional products and their manufacturing are just as dangerous as chemicals used in agriculture.

Observing the explosion of Whole Foods Market all over the map, it’s not hard to imagine a paradigm shift from “more for less” to “less is more.” Are you with me? Great! Read on for seven simple tips to help you keep your mind where your heart is while you’re shopping for everyday items.

1. Think quality, not quantity. Once you adopt a minimalist mentality, it is very difficult to go back. No more going to a dollar store for two items and ending up spending $20.

2. Support local. Read labels to find out where things are made. Unfortunately most items are made elsewhere, but it’s like striking gold when a surprise “Made in America” label is found. When you find products you love made in your region, state or country, latch on and don’t let go. Why not inform friends and neighbors, as well?

3. Disposables and planned obsolescence. Seek out longer lasting, recyclable, reusable or compostable alternatives to disposable or short-lived products you currently use, like diapers, razors, toothbrushes, feminine products, light bulbs, paper towels and napkins, paper plates, plasticware and cups, trash bags, sandwich & storage bags, and grocery bags. If you’re unsure where to find these alternatives, please leave a comment for us below.




4.  Think about sources. What materials were used, using what chemicals in the process? For example, cotton fabric is made from soft plant fibers, so it’s perfect for textiles, but cotton is considered the world’s dirtiest crop involving tremendous amounts of pesticides, chemical treatments and water. Organic cotton is an excellent substitute, and as we continue buying more of it, more options will become available.

5.  Awaken your senses. Commercial household cleaning products and personal-care products are made with chemicals that are toxic to the people manufacturing them, the people using them, animals that come into contact with them, and the water systems where they end up. You can smell the pollution walking down the cleaning-products isle at conventional grocery stores. If it doesn’t smell like something from nature, don’t buy it. Tip: go to a health food store and sniff the pure essential oil samplers to get a better idea of what non-toxic scents from nature smell like.

6. Educate yourself and others. Tell people what you learn about consumerism, toxics, trash, and great alternatives. We have an opportunity to change the future for the better by educating children. To get my daughter to understand what clothes (something she has a genuine interest in) are made of, we made up a game I’ll call “animal, plant or other.” Her eyes lit up when she realized that the cotton shirt she was wearing was made from plant flowers. When I explained that rayon fabric is mostly made from wood pulp, she was like, “Whaaat?!” In a fun way, that forced her to think about material processes.




7. Take it in stride. Don’t go out and replace everything all at once. I suggest you take it as it comes, which will give you time to research better options. When you need new sheets, buy organic cotton sheets. When you need new razors and toothbrushes, buy Preserve recyclables. And on and on.


“Change is the only constant.” –Heraclitus




How to Choose the Perfect Pillow

You may be thinking….that’s easy, you go down to the bed and bath store and pull a few off the shelf and squish, press, lay your head on them and whichever feels good and is within your budget will be fine (trial and error, I guess?). Or maybe you’re replacing your old pillows with cruelty-free, organic alternatives, but don’t know where to begin.

Everybody is unique, so there is no one “perfect” pillow for everyone. It’s just not that simple. Deciphering the “pillow puzzle” might have you throwing in the towel and settling for anything soft-ish to prop your head up on. Read on for advice on how to best match your comfort needs to various types of pillows.

Sad man holding pillow

 I believe the first thing to consider when purchasing anything really, is what it is made of. Since about 1/3 of your time is spent in bed and pillows are right in your face, I wouldn’t recommend petroleum-based poly-fill or memory foam, which is found to contain 60+ toxic VOCs (volatile organic compounds). The healthiest choice is always organic.


The inside of our Organic Cotton Pillow

Next, consider your sleeping position(s) and the pillow loft (or height) needed:

  • Side sleepers: Choose a pillow that is the proper loft, so your head and neck are supported in a neutral position. For example, if the pillow is for a child, you may need a light-loft pillow. If it’s for a person with broad shoulders you may need a full-loft pillow, and medium- and full-loft pillows are generally best for the average-sized person.
  • Back sleepers: A puffy, light- to medium-loft pillow is usually best, to gently lift your head without putting too much pressure on your neck.
  • Belly sleepers: Try a light-loft pillow, or none at all, so your head isn’t too high.



Now for the fun part. What a pillow is stuffed with greatly determines how it feels. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, click on the links to the organic pillows after the question, and that pillow could be the best one for you.

If you’re still unsure, just call and talk to one of our knowledgable pillow experts at Lifekind at 1-800-284-4983. I love getting calls about pillows, because I enjoy using adjectives like “puffy,” “shmooshable,” “buoyant,” and “moldable.”

FTC cracks down on “green” claims

Gratifying news today for advocates of truth in advertising: The FTC has blown the whistle on three companies for making false organic claims. The federal agency, which oversees advertising claims, has filed suit with Ecobaby, Essentia, and Southern California-based online retailer Relief-Mart for falsely asserting that their products are “VOC-free,” “chemical-free,” and contain “no chemical offgassing.” In addition, Ecobaby has been barred by the FTC from making false claims about third-party certifications after making up a fictitious organization and claiming to have their mattresses certified by it.

Read the full story at the FTC’s website.

Get up to date on Lifekind’s certifications here.

Textile Truth: A Parent’s Guide

{re-blog from OMI}

We are an organic company, so using organic products is a no-brainer for us.  But we have to remember that not everyone has the same immersion into the world of organics, and new parents need to know when it is essential to choose organic products.

This great info-graphic,  put together by our friends at Harmony Art, is a great visual aid for new parents, and puts the “how” and “why” of buying organic for your baby into an easy-to-digest graphic that takes away the guessing game:


To read about how this piece came together, be sure to check out Harmony Art’s blog.