By now it’s clear to most Americans that organic food is more healthful, and organic farming practices are safer for the Earth than conventional methods. When we shop organic it’s always comforting to see third-party organic certifications, because “natural” can mean whatever the manufacturer would like it to. If a food product is labeled “organic,” however, it must contain at least 95% organic ingredients.
Soft, breathable cotton — our favorite textile to wear and wrap up in bed with — has dirty secrets that have long gone unchecked, a fact about which most of America has no idea. Cotton is considered the world’s most toxic crop. (Check out the approximately 20 million results for “toxic cotton” on Google.)
Organic cotton, like organic food, uses less water, doesn’t poison the soil and its farmers, and isn’t treated with toxic chemical finishing agents. In the U.S., the claim “organic” on textiles is protected by the government. Only textiles labeled with a GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) logo can be claimed as organic.
Check out this simple GOTS video to learn more:
Below are some resources to help you learn about the toxic cotton industry.
This great blog from our sister company OMI, (who manufacturers all of Lifekind‘s mattresses), touches on a “hot“ topic in the organic mattress industry. Since we don’t use any chemical flame retardants, customers often ask how we can pass the flammability requirements with just wool. Well, we worked hard to make it possible. Be sure to watch the video below, which is of one our mattresses during an actual open-flame mattress flammability test (which we pass with flying colors!)
Although we know how important it is to reduce your chemical exposure during sleep (since you spend 1/3 of your life in bed), most of the country doesn’t understand the risks associated with sleeping on a traditional mattress.
As is the case with most specialty products, there is a fairly limited customer base of people who are aware of, and ready to purchase, an organic mattress. This means that there are companies out there that will say anything in order to take a mattress sale from their competitors.
Since we opened our doors, we have been fighting an uphill battle against greenwashing. Other mattress companies have thrown in a handful of eco-friendly ingredients and called their products “natural,” trying to charge a premium for something that isn’t much better than mainstream.
Now that the country is becoming more aware of the greenwashing epidemic, we have seen mattress companies telling flat-out lies and mistruths, with the hope of seducing a customer with promises they can’t back up.
One fallacy that you will see promoted is that wool alone can’t be used to pass flammability tests. This argument is often used in a company’s justification for using chemical fire retardants because it is “the only option.”
I am here today to tell you “yes.” Yes, wool can be used as the sole fire retardant for a mattress to meet federal flammability requirements. And that, in fact, we have been using wool (without any chemical treatments) as our only fire retardant for years.
The purpose of a flammability test on a mattress is to make sure that the mattress doesn’t flame up in the event of a domestic fire. We don’t claim to make fireproof mattresses (I can’t even imagine the kinds of chemicals that would go in to that!) We make mattresses that won’t turn into a six-foot fireball if your house catches fire.
Our competitors have shown photos of a piece of wool yarn that is set to fire, and predictably, the fire travels up and burns the piece of wool yarn.
As seen on strobel.com, spreading misinformation about wool used in mattresses.
Well, of course it is going to burn. It is a natural material that has been shaped into a “wick” and a flame has been set to it.
Of course, you don’t have to just take my word for it. The video below is an actual open-flame flammability test of one of our mattresses, which shows just how well our chemical-free design works.
The only raw materials used to make this mattress (or any of our mattresses) are organic cotton, wool, and 100%-natural rubber. The mattress is sitting on a wood-slat foundation. Both pieces are built in our organic mattress Eco-Factory™and are GREENGUARD® certified. There are no added chemicals, no silica barrier, or any other methods employed to assist in the flame test.
So there you have it: It is possible to pass the open-flame mattress flammability test without chemicals. And we do it every day.
In a move that’s sure to please anyone concerned about chemical exposure, California Governor Jerry Brown announced yesterday a new state flammability standard: As of Jan. 1, upholstered furniture sold in the state will be able to meet flammability requirements without the use of with PBDEs or other chemicals.
“Today, California is curbing toxic chemicals found in everything from high chairs to sofas,” said Governor Brown. “These new standards will keep the furniture in our homes fire-safe and limit unnecessary exposure to toxic flame retardants.”
The new rule overturns a controversial 1975 law that Brown himself signed during his first stint as governor: Technical Bulletin 117, which required furniture manufacturers to inject flame-retardant chemicals into the synthetic foam used in virtually all upholstered furniture in the state. That translated into 2-3 pounds for a typical sofa, but over the years research has increasingly shown that such chemicals pose a major threat of cancer and other health problems, with children being most at risk. When state agencies such as the Bureau of Home Furnishings – on whose advisory board Lifekind president and co-founder Walt Bader sits as a member – recommended the change, officials listened.
Now instead of foam that’s been infused with flame-retardant chemicals, upholstered products from recliners to infant swings and strollers will be made fire-safe by focusing on using cover materials that resist common sources of ignition such as cigarettes, space heaters, and extension cords. That, combined with fiber fillings that resist smoldering, will be enough to meet the new standard for most products, though it’s always important to hold retailers accountable: “While many manufacturers may elect to remove the chemicals, others may elect to leave them in due to concerns about liability,” said Judy Levin of the Center for Environmental Health. “So consumers will definitely have to be diligent and ask specific questions.”
Manufacturers may begin making products to the new standards on Jan. 1, 2014, and will have one year to be fully in compliance.
Let’s hope that other U.S. states follow California’s lead and that the trend goes worldwide to prevent chemical exposure for future generations!
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.
Organic mattresses aren’t just a fad. Why? Most people are concerned about their health, and it makes sense to avoid unnecessary chemical exposure. After all, we spend about a third of our lives in the bedroom. Why would you want to poison your body with chemicals, flame retardants, other toxic ingredients if you didn’t have to?
Our opinion is that if you’re going to invest in a nontoxic mattress, you should invest in the best. Here at Lifekind®, we’re setting the purity standard for our industry.
No regulations monitor the manufacturing, marketing, and advertising of organic mattresses. This means that an “organic” mattress found on a website may contain a percentage of organic ingredients, but also a plethora of undisclosed synthetic ingredients — Tyvek®, recycled newspaper, polyester, boric acid, and formaldehyde. This tactic is known as “greenwashing.” Even if a mattress does contain mostly organic ingredients, the components can be very low grade. (We’ve dissected quite a few “organic” mattresses to find cotton fibers that look similar to what you’d find in the lint screen of your clothes dryer.)
Lifekind is different. You’ll never find undisclosed ingredients in our mattresses, and our Purity Promise guarantees that if you can find a purer mattress, we’ll give you ours for free.
We hope you’ll take us up on it. Your body will thank you.