Euphoria’s Blog for Green Mamas

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Do your Homework Before Buying an Organic Mattress! March 17, 2009

Filed under: Baby & Toddler — Rachel @ 8:52 pm
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Barry Cik, the Founder of Naturepedic, responds to an article questioning the transparency of the organic mattress industry.

A recent article in the New York Times called The Stuffing Dreams Are Made Of?, details the growth of the manufacturing industry for organic and natural mattresses. It points out (in a gentle manner) that there is more than a bit of trickery used by manufacturers in order to have the magic word, “organic”, on the label.

So why is this happening and what’s going on? Well, it all boils down to a lack of regulation of the term “organic”. Ah, but you thought that use of the word “organic” was highly regulated? Yes and no. If you’re buying an organic carrot or cucumber, then yes, those items are regulated. For agricultural products there are strict regulations in place to label the product as organic. (This includes organic cotton as well, as it doesn’t matter whether or not the item is edible, but only whether it’s under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.)

However, if the item is not under the jurisdiction of the USDA, then there are no regulations. So Mattress A may be called organic even if it’s basically made with “natural” latex, which, by the way, is a potential allergen. Mattress B may be called organic because they mixed some soybean or castor oil into the polyurethane foam. Believe it. Mattress C may highlight the crushed organic coconut husks, but forget to point out that it’s dipped in latex which is the glue that holds it together. Mattress D may highlight various animal hairs but fail to mention the chemicals used to clean up the dirt, grease, and dried sweat. And Mattress E may add some aloe vera to the filling. Yet, due to misleading marketing and lack of disclosure, the public thinks that it’s all “organic”.

Truly organic mattresses originally began when manufacturers removed polyurethane foam and replaced it with organic cotton, with the point being to remove harmful chemicals. The term “organic mattress” quickly became a convenient consumer term to describe these mattresses. Today, consumers understand the term “organic” to mean healthy and safe, but without regulation there is no guarantee of either. Organic mattresses, like many consumer products, have fallen victim to the practice of greenwashing (or shall we say organic-washing?), when companies disingenuously spin their products and policies as environmentally friendly.

Courtesy of Healthy Child Healthy World: a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit inspiring parents to protect young children from harmful chemicals.

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