Sustainable Sleep: Why Mattress Recycling Matters
As April continues with its focus on all things earthy (it is Earth Month, after all!), Shepherd’s Dream highlights an important part of being a sustainable mattress company—mattress recycling.
An average of 50,000 mattresses are thrown out in the US each day, adding up to over 15 million per year. Many landfills either won’t accept mattresses and box springs or they charge fees, which contribute to people disposing of their mattresses on roadsides and at illegal dumping sites.
Carelessly discarded mattresses create extra work for local and regional communities and are eyesores for everybody. Not to mention, many of these mattresses contain chemicals, like flame retardants and VOCs, and synthetic materials that don’t break down quickly. This is a major pollution issue for land, wildlife, and waterways.
The Good News
Mattress recycling to the rescue! Did you know that around 75% of a standard mattress and box spring is recyclable? Many components can be repurposed into something new, like carpet pads, insulation, recycled metals, and mulch.
Thanks to the efforts of the Mattress Recycling Council, a bedding industry-created organization, several states have launched their own recycling initiatives, including California, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and soon to come in Oregon. Recycling mattresses leads to:
- Less reliance on incinerators and landfills by diverting mattresses.
- A reduction in the number of illegally dumped mattresses.
- The conservation of resources by repurposing materials for new products.
- Job creation.
Go here to learn more about mattress recycling efforts in your state.
Here at Shepherd’s Dream, we’ve been participating in mattress recycling for years, removing unwanted mattresses and transporting them to recycling sites whenever we deliver new mattress sets to happy customers. We’re also looking forward to our showroom’s home state of Oregon implementing mattress recycling regulations sometime in 2024.
The Really Good News!
We applaud recycling efforts, and we’re grateful there’s a system to help make these materials reusable. And…from our perspective, we can do even better.
Shepherd’s Dream is different, and it begins in the earliest stages. Rather than rely on petroleum-based foams, synthetic fabrics, and industrial chemicals, we source pure, chemical-free EcoWool®, organic cotton, and latex for our handmade items. Because of this, your wool mattresses, pillows, comforters, and toppers are guaranteed to return gracefully to nature, instead of clogging up landfills and polluting waterways.
That’s right, folks. Your Shepherd’s Dream bedding is compostable. How do we know? We’re testing it!
For almost four years now, we’ve been watching a sample-sized wool mattress decompose at our production facility in Montague, CA. Then we also made some garden planter pots with our wool mattress protector, and they performed brilliantly. Read more about our wool composting and gardening experiments here.
Recycle and Replace? Or Stick with What You’ve Got?
It’s often said in sustainability circles that it’s best to use something for its full lifespan instead of replacing it with a sustainable alternative. However, in the case of mattresses and bedding, there is one big consideration—human health and wellbeing. Just as the chemicals found in standard mattresses aren’t great for our planet, they’re not good for our health either.
Our stressed and harried modern culture is discovering just how paramount sleep is to good health. We all need to prioritize both sleep quality and quantity in order to show up as our best selves in our personal and professional lives. While we can’t see them and generally don’t perceive them in our environment, various chemicals like VOCs can absolutely affect our physical health (see more on indoor air quality here).
Those with chemical sensitivities, allergies, asthma, or other breathing difficulties often find that they sleep much better with all-natural mattresses and bedding than with synthetic ones because there’s no off-gassing. Just pure and natural wool and cotton that allows for proper air flow, moisture management, and temperature regulation, thus helping you sleep.
We know wool bedding is an investment, so we recommend getting started with wool pillows and a wool topper, as these can be added to your current sleep set-up while also providing a safe and comfortable atmosphere for you. Then replace items as your budget allows.
Consider also that our products are hand-built to last. With care, a Shepherd’s Dream compostable wool mattress may be the last one you ever buy, and it can help tomatoes thrive when you’re done with it. How cool is that?