Whether your bedroom is purely functional (just for sleeping) or you consider it to be your sanctuary or a place to rest and recharge – there’s no doubt it’s a room we spend a lot of time in. So, it makes sense to consider ways in which this room can support our own health and the health of the planet.
“It's important to check the materials used in all the products in your home - but particularly your bedroom! The main reason is because that's where we spend the most time. Humans spend eight hours per night sleeping on average, which is over 230,000 hours in a lifetime.”James Higgins, Founder,Ethical Bedding.
One thing that pretty much all bedrooms have in common is a bed, bed linen, and soft furnishings to create a comfortable area for sleeping. So how can we be more sustainable when it comes to products such as mattresses, bedframes and bedding?
There are lots of companies making sustainable and organic mattresses in the UK. And that’s a great place to start, but it doesn’t solve the issue of what to do with a mattress at the end of its life. Can they be reused or recycled? According to The Furniture Recycling Group, Wembley Stadium could be filled five times with the 7.5m mattresses that are discarded in the UK every year.
if you buy a good mattress and clean it regularly, it could last you 10 years. Only replacing your mattress when it really needs it, is a good first step to reducing waste. But at some point it will need replacing, so how do you dispose of it?
A report by Which? looking at mattress disposal, suggests that finding a way to dispose of a mattress free of charge is not easy, especially if you want to get rid of it in a responsible way. Far too many end up in landfill sites when most could have been recycled or reused. It's therefore important to gather advice on how long a mattress should last, how to look after your mattress, and how to get rid of it responsibly once it’s past its best.
The best way to dispose of your mattress is to take it to your local council recycling centre, or if that is not possible, ask the company you are buying your new mattress from if they will recycle your old one.
When updating your bedroom furniture, for example, bed frames, wardrobes and drawers, think first about upcycling them and giving them a fresh lease of life rather than buying new. Or look for new-to-you items in charity shops, antique markets and car boot sales. If this doesn’t work, or you’ve set your heart on a new item, then either arrange to donate your old item to a charity shop that takes furniture (not all are able to, so do ask first) or talk to the company you are buying from and check they can collect your old item and donate or recycle it. This is one way you can support the circular economy and reduce waste if you can't either up-cycle yourself or find up-cycled pieces to buy.
Bedding and soft furnishings
One of the easiest sustainable swaps in your bedroom will be your bedding and soft furnishings. Although the same rules apply as before; only buy when you really need to, these items do tend to be replaced more often. The good news is, they are easy to re-use (for example as dust sheets, thrown over the sofa to prevent dog hairs or cut into rags for cleaning), or recycle (most charity shops will take them, and they are then sold as rags which earns the charity money and means the fabric is re-used). Alternatively many animal rescue centres will take old bedding to give their residents something soft to sleep on.
However, they aren’t generally items we buy second-hand, so, when buying new look forbedding made fromsustainable materials, such as organic hemp, linen, cotton, bamboo (Modal), eucalyptus (Lyocell/Tencel). The benefits are multiple, including antibacterial properties, chemical-free, moisture wicking, comfort, and long-lasting durability.
Also consider the materials your duvet and pillows are made from. Is it cruelty free? For example, avoid feathers and down – an animal has had to suffer (quite horrifically) to make thatpillow or duvet. Duvets are often made from unsustainable (plastic-based) materials and therefore it may be worth thinking about moving away from duvets altogether and going back to traditional blankets and throws for your bedding. However, if you do choose this route, you’ll still need to check that the throws, rugs and blankets do not contain plastic and are cruelty free.
It's important to note that Polyester Fibre fill, is hazourdous to health and environment, yet gets promoted as a vegan, as do microbeads: hence finding bedding companies that create bedding from natural, sustainable fibres where possible. There are pillows and mattresses made of organic latex.
Like GOTS, GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard) establishes a clear path and procedure on the route from farmer level to the certified organic latex product manufacturer. Among other factors, manufacturers that are given approval to produce organic products under the GOLS logo have to follow mandatory social and environmental regulations.
In summary it’s important to think about what materials your bedding and furniture are made of and what happens to it at end of life.
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