Greening your bed

Many of you may think the worst thing lurking in your bed are Bed Bugs and Dust Mites. Knowing these little creepy crawlies are infesting your mattress and coming in contact with your skin every time you place your head to rest is enough to make you want to reconsider catching those 40 winks every night.

green bed

Apart from this, there may be a far more disturbing aspect affecting our health and well-being every time we hit the hay. We often worry about the chemicals in our food, clothing and beauty products, but considering we spend almost a third of our lives asleep, why do we neglect these concerns regarding our bedding?

Sleeping Toxin Free

During a mattress’ average 10 year life cycle it loses almost half its weight.

Where does this go you may ask?

Onto our bedroom floors in the form of toxic dust particles resulting from the breakdown of the foam. Traditional mattresses contain polyurethane foam and vinyl, which is essentially like sleeping on a bed of oil. Additionally the vinyl surfaces on many mattresses are made of PVC which contains phthalate plasticisers that can cause nervous and endocrine developmental problems.

Another problem with traditional mattresses is the fire-retardant coating used which may contain polybrominated diphenylethers, commonly known as PBE’s. These have been known to be linked to liver cancers, thyroid problems and brain dysfunctions.

What about your blankets? If they are made with polyester maybe it’s time to reconsider. The problem with polyester? It is made from coal, air, water and petroleum, so apart from the fact that it is highly flammable, it doesn’t breathe. Sleeping under a polyester blanket is like sleeping in a plastic bag and your body’s moisture can’t escape.  Not even mentioning its carbon footprint!!

In addition polyester gives off positive ions, which increases the amount of serotonin in our brains. In excess, serotonin is linked to nausea, depression and insomnia. We are constantly exposed to both negative and positive ions in nature which have a physical and mental effect on our well-being. Negative ions contribute to us feeling good. They destroy harmful bacteria, reduce the severity of illness and have a stimulating effect on the environment such as rainwater on plants or the effect of shower water on our skin. Positive ions make us feel bad and cause exhaustion and irritability along with many other health problems.

Alternate fibres and materials

Making use of organic bedding – both in your mattresses and bed linen – may take a little extra time, but the health and comfort benefits are so worth the trouble and cost.

Organic cotton

Make sure it’s organic! Ordinary cotton, although natural is grown, cultivated, harvested and produced using pesticides and harmful toxins to both you and the environment. Organic cotton ventilates body heat and is more comfortable than synthetic fibres. Because cotton is easy to clean it is less prone to mildew and bacteria.

Organic Wool

This is an excellent insulator for retaining body heat during the winter and in summer keeps you cool by absorbing moisture while still remaining dry to the touch. Wool offers firm support and comfort in a mattress. Apart from this it is naturally flame and mildew resistant.

Natural Foam Latex

The word latex automatically conjures up thoughts of chemicals, plastics and synthetics. Natural latex however is made from the sap of the Hevea tree and is a completely renewable resource. It has anti-bacterial and anti-dust mite properties and  100% Pure Natural Latex is also firmer than memory foam and it therefore has less body impressions than memory foam. You usually will not see body impressions in an all-natural latex mattress for at least 8 years.

Hemp

Because hemp is mould and mildew resistant, a hemp mattress works very well in humid climates. They are just a bit harder, so expect the mattress to feel more dense and solid.

Bamboo

Yes, Bamboo!  It is durable and strong and in most cases softer than cotton. Bamboo has been spun into a miracle fibre which is anti-bacterial and resilient when it comes to colour retention through multiple washings.
- If buying a new organic mattress is not quite in your budget at the moment opt for a natural mattress cover instead. Options include Natural Wool mattress pads, Natural Rubber and Organic Cotton mattress pads.

Source: Homemakers Online

I must admit that I hadn’t really thought about ‘greening beds’ before I came across this article!  When one thinks about it, this is actually very important. hemp uses Most people own at least one bed of some sort so the positive environmental effects could be huge if everyone took the above points to heart.  The manufacturing of bedding material (including beds, sheets, blankets, duvets and pillows) is big business and the more processing a material requires, the higher the environmental impact (and water usage).  Natural fibres can be sustainably produced and there are some that are more eco-friendly than others.  Hemp is more water-efficient and has a lower impact on the soil than cotton.  Hemp (the industrial type, not marijuana!) has uses too numerous to list but it seems that many governments are not willing to allow the non-narcotic strain to be cultivated.  Their reasons seem obvious at first but sometimes one wonders whether they are protecting the cotton industry…Nearly two years ago, I made enquiries as to whether I could obtain industrial hemp for an experimental trial on our farm.  The response that I got from the CSIR- Material Science & Manufacturing (South Africa) was as follows:

“On your enquiry regarding “Industrial Hemp Cultivation” permit, the following constitute the answer on the current status quo regarding the matter:
1. Under the Medicines and Related Substances Act, 1965 (Act No. 101 of 1965) it is still illegal in South Africa to grow any variety of Cannabis sativa sp .
2. Institutions that are allowed to grow hemp for research purposes only  are your research bodies that include Universities and Science Councils (ARC and CSIR) with strict permit obtained from the Medicines Control Committee of the National Department of Health.”

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