Where the Natural Rubber Meets the Road

At Lifekind, many of the products we make contain natural rubber, which can be confusing for some who haven’t tried it. 
“Do you use the same kind of rubber that’s in tires?” callers ask. “Is my bed going to smell like a tire store? What’s it made from, exactly?”


While car tires and natural-rubber mattresses have their main ingredient — natural-rubber sap — in common, the similarities pretty much end there. Car tires have a slew of toxic substances added, such as styrene-butadiene co-polymers, oils, halogen, “accelerators,” “antiozonants” and carbon black, a delightful material made from the partial burning of coal tar and other “heavy” petroleum products to make a black, ashy powder. (The International Agency for Research on Cancer has labeled carbon black a “possible human carcinogen,” and it’s a powerful respiratory irritant. Definitely not something you’d want to sleep on!)
In contrast, 100%-natural rubber foam is a springy, resilient, off-white material that contains about 98% rubber-tree sap in its final form. The remaining 2% is made of non-harmful materials such zinc oxide, sulfur, sodium, and fatty acids – quite a difference. (And it smells nothing like a tire store!) It’s the top choice for organic mattress materials right now, and its popularity is growing. 
We’re always happy to send a sample to anybody who would like to check it out — just ask. We think you’ll like it!

Mattress Size and Mattress Dimensions – Lifekind

Mattress sizes can be confusing. What’s the difference, say, between an Eastern king and a California king mattress? How about a twin vs. a twin extra-long? And is a “full” the same as a “double”?

Here on the Lifekind sales team, it’s one of the questions we’re asked most. In North American countries, mattress sizing has been standardized as follows:RulerBend

Twin (sometimes called a “single”):  38 x 75

Twin extra long:  38 x 80

Full (sometimes called a “double”):  54 x 75

Queen:  60 x 80

Eastern (standard) king, or “EK”:  76 x 80

California king, or “CK”:  72 x 84

Two twin extra-long mattresses placed side by side are the same size as an EK, so they’re sometimes used when two sleepers want differing firmnesses. Twin extra-long mattresses are also a popular choice for dorm rooms.

The full size — popularized as a “double” years ago — was previously the most popular size for couples. Now that couples are choosing mostly queen or king sizes, however, fulls are typically used for children or individual sleepers, or for guest rooms.

The most common mattress-size question of all is “Should I get a regular king or a California king?” The appeal of the California king size is an extra four inches of length, but four inches of side-by-side width must be sacrificed to achieve that, so for that reason the standard Eastern king is still the more popular choice. (Sheets for a California king can be hard to find. We do carry them here at Lifekind, however!)   🙂

Whatever size you need, give us a call. We’ll help you find the right mattress for you.Mattress_Stack

Is Your Organic Mattress Too Soft or Too Firm?

Did you know…

…that what you add to the top of your bed can make a difference in how firm it feels? Sure, a super-soft, fluffy 3″ Wooly pillowtop will add softness to a mattress, but what about mattress pads, fitted sheets, and barrier covers?

The truth is, when a mattress is constrained by tight-fitting bedding, it can feel considerably firmer and have a more “hemmed in” feel. When a mattress is in its “undressed” state it’s able to expand in every direction, the way it would have when it was first designed by the manufacturer. The difference in how it can feel after bedding is added can be startling.

To mitigate this effect, our popular Flannel Pad and Wool Moisture Protector Pad are held onto your mattress with elastic straps on the four corners, instead of being a fitted product. (Fitted pads, which go all the way around and down the sides of the mattress like a fitted sheet, can affect the feel even more, and should be avoided if you want to keep the firmness as-is.)  Also, deep-pocket fitted sheets will provide more room for a mattress to expand than a tighter-fitting one will, so keep that in mind when choosing.

Finally, if you have a mattress you’d like to make a bit firmer, try using a tighter-fitting fitted sheet or fitted mattress pad. It might just make a difference!


Is an organic mattress worth the money – A Peek Inside Mattresses

It’s no secret that Lifekind® is big on purity. It’s also no secret that other mattress makers claim to be big on purity too, so when consumers are searching for the purest mattress they can find, it quickly becomes a matter of sleuthing out the truth.

From the outside, most mattresses look about the same. I totally understand why people will see a mattress that claims to be “natural” or “organic” for a fraction of what a Lifekind mattress costs, and they purchase it.

Naturally, comfort is a big part of why people purchase the mattresses they do. But if you’ve found Lifekind, you’re most likely also interested in what goes into making our certified organic mattresses — what you will be sleeping on for the next 20 years. Let’s dig a little deeper and look inside a few different mattresses.

This first picture (below) shows a conventional synthetic foam rubber mattress, much like the ones you will find in mattress showrooms around the world. It looks pretty on the outside, nice and fluffy, and just begs you to climb into bed.


But once you look inside, you see something completely different.

The first layer is the cover material. Then there are several layers of conventional synthetic foam (notorious for offgassing, not to mention the petroleum it contains and the hardship it puts on the Earth to produce), bleached and highly processed cotton, more foam, and then a base layer that is made from cotton scraps.


This second picture is of a popular “organic” mattress brand that specializes in crib mattresses. Underneath the “food-grade” polyethylene mattress cover (made entirely from petrochemicals), you can see bleached cotton. The blue layer is a Tyvek-like material. Then cotton that is of an unknown grade (the specks you see in there are debris – stems from the cotton plant, along with other unknown detritus), then a plastic mesh layer. The cotton filling they use is most likely organic, but other than that, this mattress does not contain organic materials. Yet it is selling every day because the manufacturer touts the benefits of its “organic” mattresses, misleading consumers into believing that they are purchasing a pure, organic mattress without offering any clue about what is going on inside the mattress.  Naturally, most consumers won’t cut open a new mattress, so there is no way for them to know.

The third picture shows the inside of a GOTS-certified organic Lifekind mattress.  Looking at the layers from the top down, you can see our organic quilting, which includes only certified organic wool and organic cotton cover material. Sandwiched between layers of certified organic cotton canvas is high-quality, certified organic cotton padding. No silica, Tyvek, or other synthetic, non-organic materials are included in its construction.  The innersprings used in the mattress are made of untreated virgin steel, wrapped in four layers of certified organic cotton.



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.

My first two weeks

Born and raised in Maine by a “back to the land,” naturalist mom, I had a pretty good start at living a healthy life. I eat primarily certified organic, non-GMO foods and enjoy the challenge of finding locally or regionally produced products. I reuse plastic bags (yes, I wash them!) and shop with my faithful cloth bags. I compost and recycle, and I’ve always used “natural” (or so I thought) body-care and household cleaning products. I’m doing pretty good, right?


Lifekind gives all of their (our!) new employees a gift basket with samples of the Naturally Safer laundry, cleaning, and personal-care products so we get a chance to try everything out before we recommend products to customers.  Both the castile bar soap and the liquid soap have become my new favorites– both feel silky and non-drying. After working at Lifekind for just two weeks, I now feel like I’m really moving back to the land, literally refreshed by the purest organic skin and hair products I’ve used in years.

My husband and I had planned to get a new bed in the near future – something really comfy – and were prepared to spend the money on a really good one. I’m so glad we didn’t just run down to the neighborhood mattress store and jump on (or sink into) some memory foam, because we might have been sucked in. I have a new awareness about the toxicity of the synthetic materials and chemicals in the old beds and bedding in my house, and it’s reminding me of what’s going to happen when they go “back to the land” – yikes!!

I’m already filtering Lifekind’s organic pillows and bedding into my life, and feel so great about it.  I look forward to starting this new chapter in my life with Lifekind.  Hopefully I’ll talk to you along the way!

Naomi is Lifekind’s newest team member, training to become a Product Specialist.  We hope you will welcome her the next time you call us!

A Slice of Heaven: My Euro Organic Mattress

When I’m talking on the phone with customers, helping them choose the right mattress, I often hear “What kind of mattress do YOU sleep on?” I usually hesitate, since I don’t want to influence anyone based on what I like personally. After making sure they understand that what’s right for me may not be right for them, I share that since February 2004 I’ve been extremely happy with my fabulous Euro, a mattress so adaptable and wide-ranging in its comfort that it’s been our best-seller since Day One.

One of the reasons why so many customers love the Euro is that it can feel very different depending on how you use it. Made of a 6” core of natural rubber covered in our organic-cotton-and-wool quilting material, the Euro is available in three standard firmnesses (medium, medium-firm, and firm, along with the almost-frightening “extra-firm” we make by request), but has a medium-firm feel overall. When used alone on a platform-slat bed or in a standard frame with a wood-slat foundation it’s extremely stable and almost motion-free, and provides excellent back support.

There’s a second way you use the Euro, however, and it’s the way I sleep on mine: with a box-spring foundation for a  softer, “springier” feel. (When I ordered my mattress it took me about six weeks to decide between the Euro and the Combo, so clearly I can appreciate the feel of an innerspring.) The Euro almost takes on the feel of an innerspring mattress this way, but with greater stability. The percentage of customers who use it that way is small – about 5% — but we wouldn’t trade it for anything.

There’s one last way in which the medium-firm feel of the Euro can be changed: by adding a pillow top. I’ve been using the Sculpted Pillow Top on my Euro since 2005,  and recommend it for customers looking for a mattress that offers solid, firm-ish support with pressure-point relief and a softer feel on the surface. Though it’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all proposition, this combination of products is probably my favorite we make at Lifekind — and I’ve literally tried them all. It makes me happy when I can recommend it with confidence to a customer. It’s my own little slice of heaven.   🙂

Price Increase

Dear Lifekind,

I just got an email from your company saying your prices are going up again. The prices are already so far out of most people’s range of affordability that it’s truly disappointing. Each year I keep hoping to be able to replace the king size bed I purchased from you 12 years ago….now I wonder if I’ll never be able to buy one of your beds again.

Thank you for taking the time to write. Believe me, no one could feel worse than I do about where the prices of our products are.

My entire life has been devoted to providing safer, less-chemical alternatives to today’s all-chemical consumer products.

As a small company, we do not have the ability to hedge costs through futures trading or commodity purchases. Neither do we have any influence over the demand from countries like China and India that are consuming the organic materials we use to make our products.

It bothers me tremendously that customers such as yourself are priced out of the market. Ultimately our company suffers as well, since we have no other materials that we can (or would want to) substitute to get prices down. The email you received was only intended to alert anyone who is contemplating a purchase that unbelievably prices are going up again.

I apologize for not being able to figure out how to reduce prices without compromising our integrity, but I am working on it. The web is full of companies who claim to be “chemical free,” non-outgassing, certified organic, etc. None of it is true, but there are no enforcement agencies that address these bogus claims.

So here we sit in the unenviable position of having an honest product whose prices are turning customers away at the same time the competition is claiming to be us.

Thank you for purchasing a mattress from us in the past.

Very truly yours,

Walt Bader

We don’t toss money in the garbage, so why throw a mattress there?

If you are looking to make space for your new mattress, consider a few creative solutions of disposing your old one. According to Greenyour.com over 33,000,000 mattresses are produced each year and 20,000,000 are thrown away. Twenty million!! A mattress is a wealth of resources that can be used for other things. My rule of thumb, which I learned from studying Permaculture, is everything can be used more then once, or in at least two different ways. Why throw away something that still has a function? Below are suggestions for ways to recycle mattresses.

– If the mattress is not soiled then Craigslist.com is a great place to sell or give it away. You could even include the metal bed frame and bedding in the price.

– Put an ad in the paper stating the mattress is free for the taking. Many people are in need and would be ecstatic to take it off your hands.

– If you are not partial to having strangers come to your house, call your local fire department or news station when there was a natural disaster in your area. They would know of families in need who may have lost everything, and your donation may be just what they needed.

– If you live in the SF Bay Area, check out http://www.BayAreaRecycle.com

– Carefully deconstruct the mattress. The wood can be broken down into wood chips, cotton and wool is great for the compost bin or as a covering for flower beds. The springs make for a great art project or can be melted down into steel.

Ecohaul.com is a company that strives to do what they can to keep materials they pick up out of landfills. See if they are in your area!

The possibilities are endless. Be creative and if you think of any other ways to creatively reuse a mattress, let us know!

Sara, Product Specialist

New Bill Helps Mattress Buyers

Wondering about the economic viability of purchasing an organic mattress? The federal government may be able to help.

H.R. 3382, The Home Improvements Revitalize the Economy Act of 2009 — or HIRE for short — was introduced on July 29 by Rep. Henry Johnson (D-Ga.). If passed into law, it will allow a tax credit of up to $500 and deductions of up to $2K through the year 2011 for the purchase of residential building products and furnishings (up to $4K for products that meet approved environmental standards). Yay, Rep. Johnson!   🙂

The bill, which reportedly is enjoying bipartisan support, is making its way through the House Ways and Means Committee. To track its progress or for more information, go to govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-3382.