When I think of what I want my bedroom to be, I think about a serene and tranquil place that I can retire to after an exhausting, activity filled day. I think the bedroom should be a place of calm and relaxation…a place to unwind and think quietly about anything that is on my mind. It needs to have windows to let in natural light and cool breezes, it needs to have good lighting to read by, and above all it needs to be a place that is natural, safe, and conducive to good sleep.
Sounds good in theory right? Well, this is actually a tall order these days because many of the items in your bedroom might be dowsed with chemicals that can affect your health and your ability to get a good night’s sleep. Last night I was watching the news…which I hardly ever do, weird….but they did a feature on flame retardants and human exposure to them. A female politician in Orgeon (I think) had her blood tested for flame retardant chemicals and the results came back that she has 19 different flame retardant chemicals in her blood. She is now working to ban some of the worst offenders as independent studies begin to show that these chemicals are more dangerous than the chemical industries would have us believe and humans and animals alike are being exposed in massive doses. Moms are passing these chemicals on to their babies in breast milk even.
Mattresses today are required by law to have fire retardant materials in them to allow consumers more time to get out of their homes in the even that there is a mattress fire.While that is the goal, the exposure that consumers may have to fire retardant materials in the mattress may be leading to the same potentially lethal outcome.
Boric acid, a household product often used to kill roaches is now being added to some mattresses to help them pass the government’s flammability test.Other chemicals being used include antimony trioxide a flame retardant chemical which has been dubbed by consumer groups as a “probable carcinogen.” The ones we hear about most are the Polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs.
These chemicals are in a variety of products. A news story show demonstrated that my daughter’s exact car seat was an example of a car seat that has these chemicals. But the culprit products we are exposed to most would have to be mattresses. Conventional mattresses contain toxic chemicals which leach out into the air over time (off-gassing). Also children’s pajamas are usually doused with flame retardants. We spend MANY hours sleeping and the chemicals in the products we are laying on are being breathed into our lungs and absorbed into our skin and bloodstream.
So ready to get a good night’s sleep? What we need is a toxin free bedroom.
Think about it. We spend a third of our lives in our bedroom sleeping. Now we might eat organic foods, clean with non-toxic chemicals, exercise daily, etc. but we might be might be ignoring the health hazards of the place we spend a third of our lives in. This just doesn’t make sense. This has been on my mind today because my last co-sleeper has been mentioning wanting her own bed….so time to buy a new bed and mattress for her.
So where do we get started? Well, we need to get rid of airborne allergens and chemicals like dust mites, mold, mildew, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)….things that can cause long term health problems and disrupt our sleep. We also need to replace products contributing to this problem with “cleaner” ones.
Renovate Your Bedroom:
Mattress: This is one of the biggest must-haves in a natural, healthy, and organic bedroom. Conventional mattresses are made with materials that were grown under heavy pesticide use. They are also heavily sprayed with flame retardant and stain fighting chemicals. Foam cushioning might also contain PBDEs or petrochemicals that off-gas chemicals. The waterproof liner you might be using has more chemicals still. That is a heck of a lot of chemicals to be sleeping on and breathing in every night.
The alternative to these toxic mattresses are natural or organic mattresses and covers. Eco-friendly and healthy mattress suppliers offer mattresses that use materials that are often renewable, all natural and not toxic to humans.
So what are your alternatives?
Organic Cotton Mattresses – Nearly one-third of a pound of chemical fertilizers and pesticides are used for every pound of cotton harvested. It is not hard to see why organic cotton is the better choice. Natural and organic cotton ventilates body heat, offers more comfort, and is more durable than typical synthetics used in conventional mattresses. The batting does not contain petrochemicals either. Some people feel that organic cotton mattresses are bit stiff but a wool bed topper should do the trick and many come with wool wrapped around the coils.
One to consider: Green Nest Quilted Innerspring Mattress
Organic Wool Mattress – This fiber offers firm support and it is also a natural insulator and helps regulate body temperature. In the winter, wool traps the heat that your body produces. In the summer, wool helps you stay cool as it is able to absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture and still remain dry to the touch. Wool is also very comfortable to sleep on. Wool is also a natural flame retardant. Natural organic wool is produced without the use of hormones or pesticides and it is sustainable because it is merely shorn off of sheep. Surrounding the organic wool is organic cotton which serves to make the mattress softer. It does require more care than a conventional mattress though.
Natural Latex Mattress – Natural rubber (a completely renewable resource) is harvested by tapping the milk (sap) of Hevea brasiliensis. The sap is whipped up and turned into latex foam and is a sustainable resource because sap can be collected from the trees up to 180 days per year and the tree heals within an hour. Natural latex is anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, dust-mite proof, and very comfortable to sleep on. Wrapped around the rubber core there might be a layer of organic wool which serves as a fire retardant and regulates moisture.
To consider: Green Nest Natural Rubber Mattress.
Don’t get sticker shock when you look at what some of these mattresses cost. Save up to buy one if you have to…purity has its price. The mattresses I mention above are VERY reasonably priced. If I linked to the ones I REALLY think are tops they would run $4000 and up. Frankly I wouldn’t be willing to pay that price myself until I no longer have little kids who would spill juice on them.
For your young ones there are also natural crib/toddler mattresses. Make sure to choose a mattress made with organic cotton filling. Also pay attention to the substances used in the mattress cover that will be beneath your child. Many crib mattresses are covered in materials made with highly toxic vinyl/PVC. An environmentally friendly alternative to toxic vinyl/PVC is Polyethylene.This environmentally friendly plastic is used throughout the food packaging industry for its non-toxic properties and its recyclability.
Here is a bassinet mattress.
Conventional mattresses have that awful off-gassing property which puts us at great risk of being exposed to potential carcinogens over a long period of time.Organic mattresses are made of products that are natural, often renewable and aid in repelling dust mites (which can’t survive in many of the materials used like rubber and wool).Remember our beds and bedrooms are where we spend a good deal of our time so investigate your eco-friendly mattress options carefully.
If you are not ready to buy a natural and organic mattress then you might look into an organic mattress pad. They provide a thick, natural barrier that goes on the top of the mattress.
Sheets and Bedding: Sheets are usually what your skin is connecting with when you sleep and they have the potential to be laden with chemicals and flame retardants too. Select sheets, blankets, and duvet covers made with untreated or organic cotton, wool, or bamboo. You can get natural fiber bedding in a variety of exciting styles and colors. Happy Planet has organic flannel and sateen sheets.
As for crib sheets my absolute favorite sheets for crib/toddler mattresses are from Kee-Ka. Their sets are so beautiful and they are organic. We have the Monkeys and the Cupcakes sheet sets and some of the chocolate blankets. They really stand up to heavy use and they super soft. My son loves the designs too. I keep emailing them begging for the cupcake sheets in King size…but so far no dice.
And lastly don’t forget the house plants and the air purifiers to clean the air in the home and bedroom so you can breathe easy at night. Sweet dreams!
Also…see my article about natural, organic pillows.
Tuesday, May 20th, 2008