Time for a new mattress? For the sake of your health you might want to check out just what that new one is made from.

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There's an old saying: choose wisely your bed and your shoes, because if you're not in one, you're in the other.

There's a few considerations you make when buying a mattress. You lie on it, and decide how your back will feel for the next ten years. You look at the price, and consider its value for money. Fewer people consider the materials from which their mattress is made and whether or not they're hazardous to their, or their family's health, or what happens to the mattress after it has passed its use-by date.

Spending a third of our lives in bed (or almost half for young children) you want to be sure that there are no adverse effects from being in bed. Have you ever considered what your mattress might be made from?


Most are comprised of synthetic materials derived from petrochemicals. Most contain polyurethane foam, polyester or other synthetic materials such as 'flexi gel' or 'memory foam', and may also contain adhesives, solvents or formaldehyde - potential candidates for off-gassing VOCs (volatile organic compounds, known to be hazardous for health).

Due to the flammable nature of these chemicals it's necessary for them also to contain or be coated with a fire retardant - which, especially in mattresses more than a decade old can include PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) or boric acid. Health concerns have seen PBDEs being phased out in Europe entirely and are banned in many US states.

There are three types of mattress construction - innerspring, foam, or stuffed. The only truly eco option is the latter - with innards and coverings made from natural materials; organic cotton and hemp fabric, 100 per cent wool wadding and organic latex or coconut husk and latex core.

The properties of 100 per cent natural latex - derived from the Hevea brazilensis rubber tree - are numerous. As well as being free from any of the petrochemical-derived materials and fire retardants, latex is naturally fire resistant and a natural pest deterrent (for dust mites, for example). It is hypo-allergenic and anti-microbial, supportive and comfortable. It's also breathable and very durable - expect to get 15-20 years from a full natural latex mattress.

INNATURE Ltd, in west Auckland, is a company which specialises in 100 per cent natural organic latex mattresses and delivers around New Zealand.

The organic latex for their hand-crafted, made-to-order mattresses comes from a certified plantation in Sri Lanka, where the sap from 2000 collections goes into making a queen-sized mattress. It guarantees that the mattresses have a full latex core, rather than inner springs with a thin latex covering - which are sometimes sold as 'latex mattresses'. INNATURE makes latex mattresses for all sized beds, from bassinet and cots through to super king size or custom size and shape in a variety of firmness.

Firmer mattresses in the range have a layer of coconut fibre inside the latex core, while medium and softer models are latex throughout in variety of density. All are then quilted with wool - fire resistant, breathable, moisture wicking and without the harsh chemicals often used to clean wool (they have the faint, pleasant smell of sheep), and a 45 per cent organic cotton and 55 per cent hemp fabric mattress cover.

As it is offered direct to customers on best possible prices INNATURE healthy mattresses does not cost any more than the big name brand synthetic conventional mattresses on the market. However, what is offered to you in terms of quality and piece of mind is priceless. With INNATURE, you have the knowledge that you and your family are sleeping on safe and healthy mattresses made from top quality, 100 per cent natural and organic materials with no use of toxic glues or any chemicals. Better sleep, naturally!

Shopping tip

Don't accept words such as 'eco' or 'natural'; find companies that communicate the materials and their sources that go into their mattresses. Look out for third party certifications.

Landfilled mattresses

Consumer statistics for mattress sales and landfill rates in New Zealand do not exist. However, if two mattresses in each of New Zealand's 1.5m dwellings are replaced every decade, it would work out at around 300,000 mattresses finding their way to landfill each year. Stacked on top of each other, they'd make a tower 60km high.

Currently there is no recycling facility for these mattresses. The difference between synthetic mattresses and natural mattresses are that the latter are entirely biodegradable.

Mattress coverings

• Organic Cotton: When you consider that cotton production uses almost a quarter of the world's insecticides, organic cotton is a good option for both mattress coverings and bedding.
• Hemp: A super fibre, hemp is fast-growing, requires no pesticides and little irrigation. It is extremely durable.
• Wool: Nature's super textile. Wool fibers are hygroscopic. This means wool has the power to readily absorb and give off moisture. It is breathable - it is both warm and cool when you need it. It is naturally retards fire and deters dust mites. Mostly used as mattress quilting and wadding.

Visit INNATURE to see how these mattresses and beds are made and try it for yourself at 10A Enterprise Drive, Henderson, Auckland, or call on 0508 466288 or 09 838 0087 to make and inquiry or to place an order. Alternatively visit the website at www.innature.co.nz

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