I want to start this post out with a big thank you to Iren at the Flaxy Home shop on Etsy! 🙂 We purchased this magnificent king mattress from her at the end of April and were sleeping blissfully on it by mid-May when it arrived from the Ukraine. I want to explain what led us to this unusual purchase, and why floor sleeping and flax mattresses are so beneficial to our bodies and the planet.
When Gabe and I got married, we purchased a used Sealy mattress from a local consignment store…I know, sounds a little cringey. The reason why is because this mattress was from the 1980s, and given that we both needed a firm bed to support our backs, I surmised that the springs were likely a very sturdy USA-manufactured steel. I sprayed it down with vinegar and tea tree oil several times to make sure no bed bugs could be present, and we used that bed through 3 years and 4 moves. A pretty eco-friendly choice, I’d say. We used a bedframe from ReStore, and secondhand sheets.
But I knew it wouldn’t last forever….it was showing signs of wear last year, and since it was made of polyester, it was hard to stay cool at night in the summer. Another issue was that I hated how difficult it was to move when I wanted to rearrange our bedroom.
I also learned quite a lot about indoor air pollution and the off-gassing of petrol-based materials and began to have concerns about dust and allergens in the mattress that had built up over decades as well. And so, I began the hunt for the most sustainable earth-friendly mattress in existence. 😀
If you google “sustainable mattresses”, or if you follow any zero-waste YouTubers, you’ve probably heard of a fair share of “organic cotton”, “wool-filled”, or “regionally-manufactured” mattresses. ALL of which are greenwashing statements in my opinion, because…
- Cotton can’t EVER be sustainable
- Wool can’t be commercially produced while being ethically produced
- Regional manufacturing is a good thing, but not if you’re using petro-chemicals!
One saleswomen even tried to reassure me regarding the wool that the wool wasn’t harvested until after the sheep were slaughtered for their meat. It’s not her fault- she was probably misinformed by the company- but I knew that just wasn’t how wool was harvested.
I want to quickly bring up a chart that I have shared several times in the past that lists the embodied energy of various fibers and their production. The units are in Joules per kilogram of fiber.
|flax fibre (MAT)||10|
Cotton and wool may be lower in terms of energy use compared to polyester, but they still embody quite a lot of energy. Then if you take into account the ethical concerns of wool, the water issue of cotton, and the land use of both, a large piece of furniture made of these things doesn’t really sound that sustainable.
But thankfully, there are actually many other materials that can make excellent mattresses: Buckwheat hulls, hemp, oat chaff, straw, flax, and many more.
I’m sure no large company will ever use them (because they can’t be glamorized), but there are artisans on Etsy around the world who will 🙂 That was how I found mine.
As I searched the internet for mattress alternatives to at least reduce the bulk of my carbon impact, I learned about Japanese floor beds. The idea seemed very intriguing, and definitely good for our posture. But again, I was conflicted about a cotton aspect.
I’m not even sure how, but fortunately, Iren’s listing for a full flax mattress came up in my Google shopping results. I had always adored linen, and I could hardly believe that there was someone was making a bed (or mattress topper, as some use it) entirely covered in linen and filled with flax chaff. Suddenly I knew that I couldn’t buy anything else. Her product checked all of my boxes: no phlatates, fire retardants, or dangerous off-gassing; wonderfully low embodied energy and water use (plus flax sequesters carbon at a great rate); super vegan due to no wool, and the fact that flax doesn’t tend to need pesticides; and it would keep my back aligned and skin cool in the summer.
I then ordered the 2-inch thick king-sized flax mattress, and anxiously awaited it’s arrival from the Ukraine 🙂
When it arrived several weeks later, I unfolded it and Gabe and I tested it out. He was so comfortable and cool that I encountered much resistance from him when I asked him to move so I could put the sheets on it haha 🙂
Lastly, I decorated the new bed with pale blue and yellow blankets, sheets and pillowcases…all thrifted. 🙂
One particular cotton blanket had some serious holes in it…but I figured for $3.50, I was definitely willing to mend it myself 🙂 I used leftover Plymouth brand cotton/linen/nettle yarn and it worked great.
We have now slept on this bed for 1 month and it has been heaven. I’m able to sleep in proper posture every night, and we are able to stay cool even as we don’t really use our HVAC system and it’s usually near 80* in our apartment. I also sleep deeper than I ever have, and don’t toss and turn anymore…I literally lie down on my back with a single pillow under my neck and one under my tailbone, fall straight to sleep, and awake in the same position. 🙂
Whether you are looking for a new mattress now, or might need to in the near future, flax beds are worth considering…and if you want one, please support a small business owner like Iren at Flaxy Home!
Also, if you’re feeling especially adventurous, here is a link to a tutorial on making your own straw or buckwheat bed. I plan to refill ours myself as needed with local chaff of some kind.
Thank you for visiting my blog today! 🙂