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Green / Eco-Friendly Mattresses Hot Trend in 2008

The explosive surge in natural bedding materials has the mattress industry scrambling to keep up with demand for mattresses using less synthetically derived ingredients.

With issues such as global warming and dependency upon fossil fuels inflaming the collective consciousness of many consumers, the demand for botanically or otherwise naturally derived material has never been greater. Perhaps the hottest product in the marketplace right now is natural latex, a botanically derived material that is made from the milky white cambium layer "sap" of the rubber tree. Wikipedia has a great photograph showing how the latex is extracted.

In fact, this material has been used in the bedding industry for over 50 years, most notably marketed by Sears and a company known as Englander Mattresses. Both offered "rubber mattresses" for decades, many of them still in homes today, as a relatively inexpensive yet comfortable alternative to a coil mattress. Once synthetic extruded foams, such as urethane foam, exclusively derived from petrochemical compounds, became widely available to the bedding industry at much cheaper prices, natural rubber mattresses faded away…temporarily. With more focus and concern on using sustainable and renewable resources in a global fashion, latex is literally…a natural. Typically plantation grown, the rubber wood tree produces liquid latex for only about 20 years, then ceases production. The trees continue to grow for another 5-10 years and are then harvested for their lumber, yielding an amazingly beautifully grained wood with a teak or mahogany like finish. When a tree is harvested, another sapling is planted in its place, thus continuing the self-sustaining ability of the plantation.
Many other natural materials are also on the forefront of being introduced in a big way in the mattress industry, including soy based foams, which have been in refinement for years, but the extrusion process was complicated by the fact that chemical additives and emulsifiers had to be added to produce a comfortable, flexible material. Now, with the hardware being more refined and designed around the unique properties of the soy material, the technique is being highly developed so that only pure soy foam is produced in the end extrusion. A lot of information and discussion regarding soy based bedding is available, such as this article in Bedroom Magazine about the new, soy based Magniflex mattress line. In the near future, it is likely that a typical eco-friendly mattress will be entirely green, from the glue used to adhere any components, to the outer covering, which can be spun from bamboo fiber, or organic sheep's wool.