If you’re in the market for a new bed, you’re probably hoping for a restful shopping experience, but first you might want to look at the materials involved and consider their eco credentials too.
The National Bed Federation has revealed that 80 per cent of mattresses end up in landfill or incineration, taking their toll on the environment.
But this bad news is also causing a positive shift in the industry, says executive director Jessica Alexander. ‘An increased focus on sustainability is definitely one of the biggest changes we’ve seen over the past few years,’ she says.
‘Companies are responding to increasing awareness and concerns about climate change, about health and safety and about corporate standards of transparency and honesty, and that’s leading to companies changing materials and technologies and developing new ones.’
5 of the best sustainable bedding companies
Woolroom Promotes the benefits of British wool with mattress toppers, bedding and blankets that are temperature regulating, flame retardant and hypoallergenic for a healthy environment, and proven to improve sleep by up to 25 per cent
Ecosophy Founder Kate Anderson travelled through South Asia visiting farmers and artisans pioneering sustainable textile production and building partnerships along the way
Scooms This company is simplifying bedtime by offering just one top-quality, sustainably sourced duvet, pillow and bedlinen set
Ara Living A husband and wife team who couldn’t find reasonably priced, ethically-made bedding, so built their own transparent supply chain
Bedfolk Long-staple cotton ethically woven into bedlinen, no chemicals or synthetics included
British bedmakers are finding innovative ways with natural materials. Take the new Origins Collection from Hypnos, made with 100 per cent British wool that can be traced back to Red Tractor-assured farms, a symbol usually only seen on food packaging. Its Cotton Origins range, meanwhile, uses only sustainably-sourced cotton, with all mattresses 100 per cent recyclable.
Another family business, Harrison Spinks, boasts its own sheep farm with fields of flax and hemp. Devon-based bedmakers Naturalmat use wool from certified organic farms within a 50-mile radius to ensure they keep their carbon footprint small, with solar energy powering their factory and a clever combination of essential oils to naturally deter dust mites, bed bugs and moths.
Button & Sprung’s founder Adam Black, insists that sustainability is part of his company’s DNA. ‘We use all-natural materials in our mattresses,’ he says. ‘Most recently, we’ve found a way to ensure the covers need no chemical treatment to pass the fire-retardant standard. Next we’ll be launching a range of mattresses without glue, making them healthier and even easier to recycle, and we also re-use and recycle all of our packaging.’
Natural materials are better for your health and comfort too, he adds. ‘Materials like wool, cotton, mohair and flax mean no chemicals and they help you regulate your heat. If you’re looking to buy in the middle and upper market, it won’t cost you any more to go natural, and the mattress will last just as long. People just need to know there’s a better way.’
Simon Spinks, managing director of family bed-making firm Harrison Spinks tells how a farm of sheep and rolling hemp fields reduced its carbon footprint.
Q&A with Simon Spinks, managing director, Harrison Spinks
Why are natural materials so important? There are many advantages to working with natural materials. Natural fillings regulate temperature and process moisture, keeping mattresses fresh. Wool keeps you cool in summer and warm in winter and it’s inherently fire retardant, so it doesn’t need any chemicals to protect it. We don’t mix the natural fibres in our mattresses with any polyester or manmade fibres, which means they can be recycled at the end of their life – something that everyone should be thinking about these days.
What makes hemp so special? We bought our farm in 2009 because we’d been looking for a resilient filling to sit on top of mattress springs. We realised hemp would be perfect, but struggled to find a supply chain for this. Over the years, hemp production has tripled, and we now work with a few local growers as well as growing 95 acres of hemp on our farm. Hemp derives from the cannabis plant but doesn’t contain any THC, the main active ingredient. Hemp instead consists of the fibre and stem of the plant and it’s the fibre we want for our beds. At around 3.5m tall when fully grown, hemp is the fastest growing wood plant, with a crop ready in just six months. It’s also a carbon-negative plant, contributing to Harrison Spinks becoming carbon neutral+ by the end of 2019.
What’s next? We’re always looking to the future to produce the next generation of spring technology. Over the years, we’ve become more and more self-sufficient by introducing our own wire-drawing lines to make fine wire for the springs. Last year, we introduced Cortec, a new spring system which is the first to be 100 per cent recyclable as it only uses two materials and you don’t need glue. Moving forward, we’ve made the commitment not to produce any new products with foam or glue in them, because there are better and more sustainable products that can be made.