You make sure to buy the cleanest beauty products, food, and cleaning products but have you ever considered the chemicals you may be exposed to sleeping on your mattress?
If you ask Barry Cik how he entered the mattress business, he’ll tell you it was an accident. The long-time environmental engineer set out on the task of creating the perfect organic mattresses and cribs after searching for a crib for his first grandchild. He faced several options made with toxic chemicals he was inclined to avoid after years of experience in the engineering industry, and none of the organic cribs fit his liking. Frustrated but inspired, he set out on the valiant task of producing his own. If you ask us, Barry’s decision to found Naturepedic, a nontoxic, organic mattress manufacturing company, was more fate than accident.
The Naturepedic factory and storefront in Chagrin Falls, Ohio is unassuming from the outside, tucked into an industrial park with a small sign noting its presence. Upon entering the factory, there is a noticeable difference between Naturepedic’s manufacturing plant and others of its kind – there’s no chemical smell inside. That’s because every ingredient in a Naturepedic mattress is hand-chosen, pure and free from the harmful chemicals that pollute most furniture, Barry explains to us as we take a look around. Naturepedic is an honest, open business and Barry was eager to show Kristi Marsh, the founder of Savvy Women's Alliance, my mother who joined us for the trip, and I every part of the manufacturing process – from the raw materials to the finished product.
(Moms. Aren't they great? Making research fun for Savvy readers and joining us on the tour.)
Each part of the process keeps the customer AND Mother Nature in focus.
Raw materials like organic cotton, polyfill created from sugarcane, US steel, and GOLS certified latex – simple, easy to understand ingredients – come together to form a Naturepedic mattress. The company seeks to eliminate glues from the process entirely, preferring cleaner, innovative methods to seal ends of waterproof pillow cases together or coils into their mattresses. The application of heat is enough to seal some fabrics while attaching metal coils to the fabric seals the fabric to mattress.
Naturepedic’s products are not only crafted with care, extremely comfy (you know we had to test out the mattresses for ourselves), and healthier for the environment and ourselves, they are also safer.
A quick history lesson: in the 1960s, mattress manufacturers began producing mattresses with polyurethane filling instead of cotton. Consumers who smoked in bed then faced a huge problem – their highly flammable polyurethane mattresses were catching on fire! Thus, the need for flame retardant chemicals – or so it seemed. The government began mandating a standard level of flame resistance in furniture to offset the issues smoking cigarettes indoors caused.
The fire safety-related benefits of these chemicals is questionable and scientists did not uncover negative side effects until years after the damage was done.
- These so-called fire-resistant chemicals are dispersed into the air, water, and soil during the manufacturing process and do not break down easily.
- This means they can persist in the environment, and in humans and animals, for years.
- Health researchers discovered shocking side effects to exposure to these chemicals including impacts on the immune system, endocrine and thyroid disruption, reproductive issues, impacts on neurologic functioning, cancer, and complications with fetal and child development.
The Message Was Obvious
The final and perhaps most important segment of our tour around the Naturepedic facility involved a video that showed two rooms, side by side. One room was filled with furniture manufactured using polyurethane, laden with flame retardant chemicals while the other was filled with untreated furniture. At the same time, a flame was ignited in each room. We watched as the room filled with polyurethane products burst into violent flames, rapidly engulfing the whole room and bursting through the open frame within minutes. The other room took nearly five times as long to erupt into flames. The message was obvious.
"Watch the eye-opening video above made by the National Institute of Standards and Testing. A room furnished with the typical synthetic fabrics and polyurethane foam cushioning of today reaches flashover in an astonishing three minutes and forty seconds! Comparatively, a room furnished with items as would be found in a 1950s or so house takes almost a half hour." Read more on this from Naturepedic here.
What Does This Mean For Us?
For Barry Cik, his employees at Naturepedic, and some of the many thousand customers Naturepedic has accumulated over the years, the choice between an organic mattress or crib and a “conventionally” made one is clear. It’s a choice that favors safety, health, and comfort, too.
Because of these above and beyond standards, Naturepedic is one of the first eight brands we have included in our just-launching Savvy Recommendations. (So exciting!)
We invite you to meet Barry in person, at our Gathering on April 28 at Naturepedic Organic Mattress Gallery, 444 Washington St., Wellesley, MA! Why should we keep all the fun to ourselves?