The Essentia Mattress: the natural memory foam mattress
Here is the long and short of it: conventional mattresses are full of toxic chemicals. And, these chemicals make their ways into our bodies where they can have subtle but profound effects on our health. This can be especially profound in children who sleep more, have less ability to detoxify, and whose developing organ systems are far more vulnerable to toxins. I encourage you to read more about the problems with toxic mattresses and the alternatives on my site in this great blog or in my book or ask me to help you fix your toxic bedroom problem. Essentia natural latex mattresses are a healthy, green, “organic” alternative to conventional mattresses at a competitive price (and it ships easily and affordable to both Canadians and Americans).
Hands down, the one thing you ought to buy for your new baby’s room is a truly natural mattress. Doing so, doesn’t need to cost anymore than buying a high-end conventional mattress and it can safely be used for all your children. Essentia has great options for truly natural, health crib mattresses. The problem, however, is that as your kids graduate to a big kid or adult size bed, the price of a natural mattress significantly increases and the viable alternatives shrink significantly. (See the blog When Money Matters More: Natural Mattress Alternatives).
Memory foam mattresses have become very popular and now that we have a natural alternative, I understand why as they are extremely comfortable. These mattresses suppress movement: thus, even when I have joined my daughter after a nightmare in her little twin bed, I found it extremely comfortable. When she tossed and turned, I didn’t even notice. The bed really does seem to provide just the right amount of pressure and right amount of give for every part of her body.
If you are like me, you will want to both research the best mattress (you’ve come to the right place) and try out your mattress before investing. You are in luck. You can try an Essentia mattress near you: http://www.myessentia.com/locations/
What's To Love?:
Lots to love about this mattress, but some cautions as well.
- Better alternative to typical memory foam or other chemically-intensive conventional mattresses
- High density, truly natural memory foam provides a very comfortable sleep with pressure relief and it is 80% more breathable than other memory foams
- Ships easily in a relatively small box (and then it “pops up” when you unroll it like one of those sponge-animals that grow when you add water)
- Easy to set-up
- Comes in all sizes from crib through King-size
- Ethically made in Canada (which has the additional benefit of making it easy and affordable to buy and ship for Canadians as well as Americans)
- Affordable relative to other truly natural mattresses
Are you unsure if you will love “memory” foam? I have found that truly natural latex mattresses are one of the most affordable natural mattress options, so if that’s your priority this is a good way to go. You can try them out in a store, but I found the best way to do it is to order a pillow and see what you think. (I recommend trying the ergonomic version, but see what you think.)
Now, what’s not to love:
Essentia got in trouble with the FTC in 2013 for making false claims about the safety and naturalness of their mattresses that weren’t actually substantiated. MOst troubling is this part: “the complaint alleges that Essentia claimed that tests show that its memory foam is free of VOCs and formaldehyde when, in fact, tests do not support these claims.”
I don’t always agree with the FTC’s overly aggressive attitude towards green companies. They sometimes make it harder to determine the truly good guys from the greenwashers. But these are very troubling claims.
Mattresses are full of toxins that are easily released into the air and environment of the home and into the bodies of ourselves and our children. We know this because we have found mattress chemicals in the blood stream of newborn babies and in the bodies of nearly every adult ever studied. The worst of these can hang-out in our bodies for very long times: sometimes forever or sometimes just until we pass our toxic load to our children in utero. There are even studies that look at these chemicals found in mattresses and there effects on human bodies. We know that formaldehyde is a Class One toxin and can cause cancer in humans: at very low levels (lower than found in most cribs and mattresses) it can increase a child’s chances of developing asthma and other health issues and that a number of the chemicals found in mattresses can effect a child’s brain
At the heart of what’s wrong with conventional mattresses is the very heart of the mattress: the foam. Foam is what makes a mattress something heavenly and comfortable versus the rock-like futons that monks might enjoy. Unfortunately, polyurethane foam, which makes up the majority of mattresses, is made from petroleum. It is highly combustible and thus must almost always be treated with a chemical flame retardant. It typically contains and off-gases (releases into the air) various industrial solvents, such as toluene, benzene, and formaldehyde.
Typical memory foam is full of: foam. Finding a truly natural memory foam that doesn’t contain any polyurethane foam or chemical flame retardants is difficult to do. Essentia claims to be it, but as mentioned above, it’s hard to know truly… They do seem to be trying to turn things around with many third party certifiers: http://www.myessentia.com/company/certifications/
This is a good looking mattress that is just the right loft, size, and all of those things. Even better, though, is the way it comes sort of “shrink wrapped” and thus fits into a relatively small box and then expands after you open it up. Functions great as a mattress and easy to ship.
The most socially responsible part of this mattress (and it should be of any mattress) is that it doesn’t release toxins into our homes and bodies. Thank you Essentia! Essentia also takes an active part in supporting a variety of social causes in their communities–foodbanks in Vancouver and firefighters in Denver–to opening their showrooms to local artists.
Once again, the carbon footprint of this product is better than the average mattress because it's not made-up of petroleum. As well, it ships in a small cardboard box (as mentioned above) with minimal packaging all of which helps keep the carbon footprint smaller from design and use to shipment and delivery.
Virtually no waste--just a relatively small cardboard box and a plastic bag. We made use of both--over and over. The kids love that box. (Get some ideas what to do with a cardboard box here.)
In short, you get what you pay for with mattresses. It is unfortunate (and not quite fair) that it costs so much more to find a mattress without known toxins that are known to enter the human body. Perhaps founder of Essentia, Jack, says it best:
“My family had been in the latex foam business for years and supplied most major brands. I studied the industry and realized that mattresses were manufactured with poor quality components, filled with chemically derived foams treated with harsh chemicals and layered together with glue.
In looking for alternatives I realized there weren’t any. I decided to research and developed something different, memory foam made from natural ingredients. I tried offering this foam to major mattress brands but most weren’t interested because of the high cost. Those who did buy it only integrated an insignificant amount in order to promote the foam’s natural qualities.”