How Eco (Unfriendly) Are Memory Foam Mattresses?

Chlorofluorocarbon (or CFC – source) emissions in the atmosphere are having a negative effect on our environment which is contributing to climate change.

One source of these emissions may surprise you: regular old spring mattresses. These kinds of mattresses are treated with CFCs as fire retardants.

When the CFCs are manufactured to be used as a treatment, the compounds are released into the environment. They are not biodegradable therefore they settle and stick around. So, spring mattresses aren’t exactly eco-friendly.

Is there an alternative?

In the past few decades, a different kind of mattress has become increasingly popular – the memory foam mattress. Memory foam is defined as ‘a polyurethane material that is sensitive to pressure and temperature’ which means that it molds to the sleeper’s body.

Many say that these mattresses are more comfortable than a regular spring mattress. But are they better for the environment?

Memory Foam Mattresses: Are They Toxic to the Earth?

Whereas spring mattresses are treated with CFCs, most memory foam mattresses are not treated with these chemicals, opting instead for non-chemical or more eco-friendly alternatives.

Because they are not treated with toxic chemicals, their manufacturing has little effect on the environment. In addition to this, memory foam mattresses tend to maintain comfort levels longer than those made of regular foams. They are also easier to clean.

They don’t need to be replaced as frequently as traditional innerspring mattresses which means less recycling involved. This translates to less impact on our environment.

Do All Memory Foam Mattresses Contain Fiberglass?

Well, many of them do.

Mattresses sold in the United States are required to contain some form of flame-retardant property in order to be sold, and fiberglass meets the minimum requirements. Such a material attribute makes it an easy choice for those who are selling memory foam mattresses for a cheap price.

The main thing to be careful of, if you have a memory foam mattress that contains fiberglass, is to be sure that you don’t remove the mattress cover.

If you do, you’ll end up with tiny shards of glass getting everywhere, and that wouldn’t be an ideal situation.

Are Memory Foam Mattresses Flammable?

Memory foam mattresses are treated with various flame retardants in order to be resistant to fire, as mentioned previously.

However, that does not mean that they can’t catch fire. It just means they won’t ignite very quickly.

Like you would with any mattress, keep candles, lighters, cigarettes, etc. away from the bed, particularly when you’re going to leave the room for a while or when you’re about to go to sleep.

If a memory foam mattress were to catch fire, it would release decomposition products such as hydrogen cyanide. That wouldn’t just be harmful to other people in the house, it is also harmful to the atmosphere that it is released into.

Is Memory Foam Biodegradable & How Can You Get Rid of One?

Some memory foam mattresses are made with latex rather than polyurethane. Polyurethane is not biodegradable, but latex is, which makes it a more eco-friendly option.

Now, can these mattresses be recycled?

Polyurethane is a type of plastic, therefore memory foam mattresses can be recycled. However, the process isn’t very simple. With memory foam mattresses made from polyurethane, they are often “down-cycled”, which means the product made from the recycled material is of lesser value than the original material.

Regardless, they are still able to be recycled. Ensure that the place you’re taking the mattress to would accept it.

Make a phone call before you head there. Mattresses are large items and difficult to handle.

What’s another way to rid yourself of a memory foam mattress?

Well, simply disposing of it isn’t the best choice. Twelve to fifteen million mattresses in the United States alone are disposed of in a year which creates a lot of waste.

Instead, finding a way to reuse the mattress, if you’re unable to have it recycled, is a healthier option for the environment. You could donate it to someone else, or even recycle it in your own home by using pieces of it for a dog bed, for instance.

Memory foam mattresses, generally speaking, are a better alternative to spring mattresses, due to the lack of toxic chemicals used to treat and manufacture them.

Look carefully into a brand before purchasing one, to make sure you aren’t buying one with a layer of fiberglass. Ask for the mattress specifications before purchasing.

Do remember that there are eco-friendly methods to rid yourself of an old one rather than just disposing it at a dumpsite.

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