In the market for a natural latex mattress? Not so fast…
Last week I was strolling through Target when an item caught my attention:Huggies “Pure & Natural” diapers, the packaging edged in thick, green leaves with big proclamations of the organic cotton used to pad the product. As somewhat of a conscious consumer, I know there’s nothing pure or natural about disposable diapers. Americans dump nearly 30 billion diapers in landfills a year and don’t expect those puppies to biodegrade anytime soon. But I double-checked when I got home just to be certain and, sure enough, with a few clicks I confirmed that the only difference between Huggies “Pure & Natural” and regular diapers is a sheet of organic cotton quilting on the outside.
That, folks, is greenwashing—the scam-of-the-moment that preys on eco-minded shoppers like me, hoping that throwing the word “natural” alongside a few leafy images will convince us that buying a product is doing our part of the environment.
And if you think the organic mattress industry is any different, you’re wrong. Companies don’t mind leading you astray, even if the product you’re buying is for your baby. Most of the time, when a crib mattress is hailed as organic and its insides natural latex, the bed is about as green as a “natural diaper.” The truth is, as long as a mattress has a small percentage of natural latex, a manufacturer can label it that way. And you better believe that a shortcut-seeking mattress company hoping to capitalize on the organic revolution will focus all its marketing energy on convincing you that it’s the greenest of them all.
Honestly, I’d much rather buy a less-than-organic diaper for my baby than a less-than-organic crib mattress. Why? A child goes through dozens of diapers a week. They’re on his or her butt for an instant and then they’re in the trash. But a baby is face-to-face with a mattress for 16+ hours a day. How would you like to lay your baby down on a mattress you’ve been assured is “organic” only to discover that this “natural latex” bed is actually off-gassing carcinogenic fire retardants? Until there are stricter standards for what we label as “natural,” that’s exactly what most parents are doing—unbeknownst to them.
Protect yourself and your little one by checking the fine print before you spring for a natural latex and organic crib mattress. Unless a bed is made with at least 90+% natural latex, it could have as little as 10% and you could end up shelling out more green for something that’s not very green at all. But it’s up to you. If you want to pay more for a fancy green label, who am I to stop you?