Searching for the most comfortable mattress can be super challenging, whether you’re looking online or in stores or both. Make it an organic mattress search to avoid toxic chemicals like flame retardants and petrochemical foams, and you’ve got a multi-layered puzzle to solve.
With so many companies advertising “natural” and “organic” mattresses, there’s the added challenge of sifting through false claims. Use the search terms “certified organic mattress” instead of “natural,” “green,” “eco-friendly,” or even “organic mattress.”
Since Lifekind mattresses hold third-party organic certifications – GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard) for our natural rubber latex mattresses, and GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) for our innerspring mattresses – there’s no way toxic chemicals can be used in the growing or processing of the materials or be added to the finish product. So that makes them a natural choice for those seeking the purest mattresses available.
Customers call us up and ask, “How can someone pick out a mattress over the phone?” The short answer is, “Have an in-depth consultation.” While there are a number of people who absolutely must try them in stores, most people feel very confident they’ve made the best choice after a 10-20 minute conversation with an organic-mattress product specialist. While we try our best to get it right the first time, we do offer a 90-night comfort exchange policy so you won’t end up stuck with a mattress that doesn’t fit your needs. Three months is a much better trial period than 5 or 10 minutes in a store!
If you’re ready for a free, personal sleep consultation, or simply have questions, please call our friendly product specialists at 1-800-284-4983.
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.
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.”
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.
There is nothing more precious than an infant. So innocent and delicate, these tiny blessings should have the purest food, bedding, and care, and most parents are more than happy to spend a bit more for the best. Yet it is concerning that most baby products found in department stores contain chemicals, hormone disruptors, and flame retardants that are toxic to adults, let alone children. In fact, children are susceptible to absorbing toxins at a faster rate than adults because 1) children breathe faster, and 2) the skin of a child is thinner, so they can absorb chemicals more quickly.
Most people think that there are regulations in place to protect the safety of what we buy. We learned during Christmas ’08, however, that there were no regulations for toys that contained dangerous amounts of lead. The sad truth is that there are approximately 75,000 chemicals used in commercial products and applications in the US. Of those, approximately 3% have been evaluated for human toxicology!
Flame retardants in mattresses are among the most dangerous culprits, considering the fact that babies can sleep up to 16 hours a day. Studies have shown that antimony, a common flame retardant used in crib mattresses, may contribute to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) risk. Other flame retardants such as PBDEs can affect the physical and intellectual development of a baby.
Most conventional crib mattresses are made with synthetic foams and fibers. These materials contain toluene and other petrochemicals that offgas VOCs (volatile organic compounds). To top it off, they are often coated with PVC vinyl to make them waterproof. Not just chemical hazards to a baby, these types of mattresses do not “breathe,” causing children to overheat and sleep overly warm and “clammy.”
Rowena, Product Specialist
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.
Rowena, Product Specialist