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Mattresses and Sustainability

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 Xharlie 01 Apr 2022

It has come time to replace our IKEA mattress. It was a cheap memory-foam mattress and, at the time that we bought it in 2015, a friend of ours warned that it would probably only be usable for three or four years and I did not believe her. As it stands, it is a bit more than six years old, now, and it is a nightmare. Still, I think it cost a bit over 350€, at the time, and a new mattress from a shop that *assures* me that theirs will last a decade stands at about 800€, which, in terms of price-per-year, is not worlds apart.

But I really baulk at the thought that a mattress can't last longer. Our IKEA one could have been replaced two years ago, with a clear conscience, given that it was already beginning to become seriously uncomfortable and misshapen. (And my weight has been more or less stable at just under 70kg for the last six years so that is not the root of the issue.)

Memory foam is clearly just a catastrophically bad material from which to make a mattress, barring special ones for people with disabilities or injuries that need its special properties. What I now know is that it just changes shape during the night and that that has two consequences: firstly, it makes it uncomfortable to change sleeping position and healthy, normal humans actually do do that, during a night, naturally. More significantly, it changes shape in a way that sinks in the middle -- I find that I tend to fall asleep on my back and then roll over and, because the mattress has subsided, this leads to a painfully contorted spine.

As the memory-foam ages, it seems to become more and more prone to this change of shape as its temperature changes, during the night, from my experience.

But what *IS* the best material or mattress technology, from the perspective of sustainability?

The fancy-pants, specialist mattress shop that I visited, during the week, says that "Kaltschaum" (cold foam??) is the best because it does not, supposedly, change its properties as the temperature of the foam changes but I struggle to believe that -- foam, surely, must age badly and fancy cut-out patterns and cross-sections-in-display-cases cannot change that.

Are old-fashioned, metal springs simply out of fashion or is there a reason why foam -- any foam -- is in vogue? (With modern manufacturing capabilities and modern materials, I struggle to believe that it is impossible to encase springs in a way that is not *both* ergonomic and robust for much, much more than six-to-ten years!)

Something else?

Moreover, does longevity equate to sustainability in the cases of a mattress? It seems self-obvious but, perhaps, it actually is better to replace one's foam mattress every six-to-ten years than to build (and transport) one made out of a potentially heavier and more costly material -- I wouldn't really know.

 Timmd 01 Apr 2022
In reply to Xharlie:

It seems intuitively true that sprung mattresses would last for longer to me.

OP Xharlie 01 Apr 2022
In reply to Timmd:

Now that I think about it, perhaps that actually *is* the problem with springs and why fancy-cut foam is marketted so furiously: foam is cheap, the product is simpler to produce, cheap to pack and lighter to ship, longevity -- or the lack thereof -- is attractive to the manufacturer and dealers and selling the things becomes a problem of the sales & marketing department who have a far easier job than proper engineers and ergonomics experts would, tasked with designing and building a mattress out of better stuff.

In reply to Xharlie:

When we had to replace our old Ikea mattress recently we went for one of these. https://www.herdysleep.com/

Once you get over it being marketed by the cutesie Lake District homeware brand, it actually seems to have reasonable eco credentials and I can confirm is comfy.

 jkarran 01 Apr 2022
In reply to Xharlie:

You're in Germany? In the UK I think sprung mattresses are still very much the norm and despite the silly short lifespans some recommend they can last for a very long time and their life can be extended with a thin foam topper keeping them cleaner, saving them wear and tear, hiding the knobbly bits that do appear with age.

The downside is they're pretty bulky to transport, labour intensive to make and recycle so never cheap cheap.

jk

 MeMeMe 01 Apr 2022
In reply to Xharlie:

I've no idea of the how the sums come out in terms of sustainability but I'm sleeping on a middle of the road sprung mattress I bought about 20 years ago and it seems perfectly fine. It's probably cost me less per year than a memory foam one would have and the fewer times I have to go mattress shopping the better as far as I am concerned.

Post edited at 13:41
 stubbed 01 Apr 2022
In reply to Xharlie:

We have a reasonably expensive foam mattress and we love it, the most comfortable thing ever. No more backache for my husband, and it's warmer. I'll never go back to sprung unless I have to - which I might have to if I follow this thread and find that they are super environmentally unfriendly. But I love it and I would recommend them to anyone.

 PaulJepson 01 Apr 2022
In reply to Xharlie:

Pocket-sprung are just the best though, right? Mine is at least 15 years old. 

 jezb1 01 Apr 2022
In reply to Xharlie:

My memory foam ikea mattress is probably a year or two older and going strong, I love it!

In reply to MeMeMe:

> I've no idea of the how the sums come out in terms of sustainability but I'm sleeping on a middle of the road sprung mattress I bought about 20 years ago and it seems perfectly fine. 

Same  25+ years and bought a mattress topper few years back to hide the stains (made it more comfy too). 

 Uncle Derek 01 Apr 2022
In reply to Xharlie:

A good quality mattress should last 8 - 10 years.
You should turn/rotate it once a month. (memory foam mattresses cannot be turned, but you can rotate)

Use a mattress protector, there is no real way of cleaning a mattress.

You should replace after 8 - 10 years, because after this time everything in it will be degrading and the mattress will just not be giving good support, and if you wait until the mattress is knackered your back may well be knackered to.
Also after 8 - 10 years the mattress will be minging with bodily fluids.
Mattress Toppers are for if you have bought a mattress thats too hard, they are no good for a knackered mattress.
Have a look at your base, they can degrade to, so watch out for those bent wood slats, they flatten out.
As for Enviro friendliness, ask the retailer if it can be recycled, but the theory behind a foam (not memory foam) roll packed mattress is that a lot more can be transported on a wagon, and are there for more eco friendly.
These people do make good quality mattresses right across the price spectrum https://www.magniflex.com/germany/

2
 Flinticus 01 Apr 2022
In reply to Xharlie:

Hate memory foam...far far too warm / hot and, on holidays, I've ended up choosing the floor over the foam mattress. There's holiday lets I won't go back to because of their use of foam mattresses.

In reply to MeMeMe:

> I've no idea of the how the sums come out in terms of sustainability but I'm sleeping on a middle of the road sprung mattress.

Middle of the road sprung mattress?
Luxury!

In reply to Xharlie:

My parents have a Dunlopillo mattress they have had for decades. Having moved to individual bendy beds as they have aged, they had a spare mattress. They compared the Dunlopillo with a newer coil spring mattress, and kept the Dunlopillo.

 girlymonkey 01 Apr 2022
In reply to stubbed:

Funny, warmer is one of the reasons I don't have foam!! 

In reply to Xharlie:

There are different grades and manufacturers of memory foam. Some cheap and some expensive, some last and some don't.

Our latest mattress is an Emma one, it's about 2 years old, very comfy and I don't wake up in pain anymore.

The last one had an acti gel topper, that was okay for about 7 or 8 years before it got uncomfortable.

Prior to that I had a Relyon pocket sprung mattress, I had that for 15 years or so, it was great but once the padding started to go it got uncomfortable fast, it also cost over 2 grand. 

 Uncle Derek 01 Apr 2022
In reply to girlymonkey:

Memory foam is also called Visco Elastic foam, and it works by transferring pressure to heat which softens the foam under pressure points, and the heat is s function of there pressure relieving qualities.

However I have noticed that women of a certain age seem to be the ones though that complain of this issue. But your only a youngster, far too young.

All good mattresses are warm, purely because of the insulation under you, rubbish mattresses are not because there is nothing in them.

 Timmd 01 Apr 2022
In reply to Xharlie:

> Now that I think about it, perhaps that actually *is* the problem with springs and why fancy-cut foam is marketted so furiously: foam is cheap, the product is simpler to produce, cheap to pack and lighter to ship, longevity -- or the lack thereof -- is attractive to the manufacturer and dealers and selling the things becomes a problem of the sales & marketing department who have a far easier job than proper engineers and ergonomics experts would, tasked with designing and building a mattress out of better stuff.

It wouldn't surprise me, and perhaps for a lower return on the product, and turnover, too. I guess we'd better seek out sprung mattresses to keep them available.

 girlymonkey 01 Apr 2022
In reply to Uncle Derek:

I have always got very warm at night (but freezing during the day!! Currently I still have my woolly hat on, I came home hours ago! I only took my jacket off because I spilt something on it while cooking dinner and had to clean it!)

I have a sprung mattress with natural fibres, so much more breathable. Also natural fibre pillows and duvets.

 CurlyStevo 01 Apr 2022
In reply to Xharlie:

Pocket springs are the way to go. I have a 5 year old mattress that is pocket springs under foam (I think some of it is memory foam) and its still got years in it. My previous one which was the same construction and lasted around 8 years and wasn't expensive either.

In reply to Xharlie:

For longevity another vote for Dunlopillo. One was our first mattress and lasted probably twice as long (20 years ?) as the two other good quality sprung with memory foam on top mattresses we have had since. Dunlopillo is more expensive though IIRC.

 Green Porridge 02 Apr 2022
In reply to Xharlie:

I pity you having to wade through the pseudo science marketing guff around this in Germany. It is a miserable experience. About 5 years ago we got a mattress from bett1.de, and have been happy enough to get another one for another bed last year. The first one replaced a knackered IKEA one, on some fancy but knackered sprung slats frame. I decided that I didn't believe the nonsense of fancy adjustable sprung slats under 18cm of foam so I just made myself a rigid slat frame (dead easy). Seems to have worked fine for us, and overall reasonably priced. 

 SDM 02 Apr 2022
In reply to Xharlie:

You bought a low quality foam mattress and seem to be using that to draw the conclusion that foam = bad.

Had you bought a cheap pocket sprung mattress, your experience would likely have been just as bad. Ikea sprung mattresses tend to fail pretty quickly too. If you want high quality, long lasting products, Ikea would not be top of my list of places to shop.


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