Even living in Alaska where pollution is low thanks to sparse population and open land, as a parent, toxins are a concern to me. These days everything from the air we breathe to the food we eat contains some sort of contamination, chemical, or “enhancement.” In reaction, our family does its best to live naturally. We grow as much of our own food as we can, pay attention to labels on everything-not just our food, and even did our research on land and water contamination history before choosing our first home. However, like many parents, in our effort to live cleaner and greener we forgot something: our bedding. The average adult spends eight to nine hours asleep. The average child, depending on age, can sleep closer to 14 hours a day and infants sleep even more. We spend roughly a third of our lives asleep with our heads on a pillow and our bodies on a mattress. Important questions then come to mind, is your mattress safe? Do you know what your bedding is made of?
What’s in a mattress?
Depending on the type of mattress and pillow you opt for there’s your typical building blocks-steel coils or foam, some sort of filling such as cotton, wool, feathers, or polyester-who knows, and that’s the problem. Your bedding does not come with an ingredients list. You likely have a rough idea based on the type of product, for example, naturally, a goose down pillow has feathers and some sort of cloth cover, but what else? A study in 2011 found that even in crib mattresses, which are more heavily regulated than their adult counterpoints, 72 percent are produced using chemicals that may be harmful to humans, and if you think that means the other 28 percent were safe, think again, 22 percent remained unconfirmed because the manufacturers refused to even release a list of chemicals used in their production.
Is there a solution?
Those types of statistics were certainly enough to get me thinking about cleaner alternatives for my family, and luckily, there are some. The idea of organic mattresses and bedding may seem off-the-wall and worse off an expensive wall, but that’s not the case. Organic options often cost about the same as a traditional non-organic choice. They’re also better for the environment. The only difference isn’t found in the price, it’s in that mystery ingredient list. For a mattress, blanket, or pillow to be deemed “organic” it must utilize only natural products during its production and within the final product. That means no chemicals and no surprises. You may find it difficult to buy organic bedding locally depending on your location, but they can be found fairly easily online. Websites such as.organiclifestyle.com offer a wide-range of options, sometimes even with free shipping.
I’m certainly not suggesting you go throwing out all your bedding and buy all-new organic stuff right away, but a slow conversion over time can greatly reduce the number of chemicals your family is exposed to through direct contact and the release of gases from items into the air. The next time you find yourself needing a new mattress or pillow, just consider an organic option.
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