Send all of your eco-inquiries to Jennifer Grayson at eco.etiquette@gmail.com. Questions may be edited for length and clarity.

Mesh corrugatedWe want a brand new mattress for our second bedroom, and my boyfriend desires to buy a used one off Craigslist. Is that this icky or eco?

-Tricia

Icky.

Or so I’d have stated, before I actually started researching what happens to previous mattresses when they die; what I uncovered, however, is manner ickier:

Twenty million mattresses, heaved into the trash yearly. That’s within the United States alone. Right here, all those springs and stuffing amount to over 450 million cubic ft of landfill 6 m diameter pressure vessel automatic welding house. Lay out those mattresses finish to finish though, and they might stretch out over 25,000 miles — enough to circumnavigate the globe.

If picturing a ring of Posturepedics across the planet is not sufficient to make you shudder, then possibly carcinogenic contamination will: Conventional mattresses include toxic chemicals like flame retardants, formaldehyde, and phthalates, which can leach from the landfill into our drinking water.

Then there’s the possibility of polluting our air with even more of these chemicals, since troublesome-to-compress mattresses create flammable air pockets that can improve the risk of landfill fires. And let’s not overlook concerning the sheer hazard, too, for sanitation staff who usually need to take away these bulky items manually from heavy machinery when the springs and coils get caught.

So maybe your boyfriend’s impulse to save lots of a mattress from a landfill dying isn’t so loathsome, in any case? As a good friend who works within the hospitality trade lately identified, anybody who’s ever stayed a evening in a resort (whether or not it is a Vacation Inn or the Four Seasons) has shared a mattress with hundreds of others before him. What’s the large deal about sleeping on a mattress that had one previous owner?

Merely put: bed bugs. The age-old childhood bedtime caution, “Don’t let the bed bugs chew!” has now change into a nationwide epidemic; infestations of the blood-sucking pests have turn out to be so widespread that the Environmental Safety Agency has gotten involved. (It hosted its Second Nationwide Mattress Bug Summit this past February.)

Whereas mattress bugs aren’t identified to unfold disease, they will plague those bothered with intensely itchy bites and the bloodstained fecal mess they depart in their wake. Because they’re so insidious — surviving up to 18 months in the tiny cracks of wood furniture without a lot as a morsel — many eradication consultants recommend steering clear of secondhand furnishings like upholstered chairs and wood dressers altogether, let alone used mattresses and field springs.

When you have a high squeamish issue and still wish to buy pre-owned, look at the mattress rigorously for the telltale indicators of infestation, and place it in a protecting encasement before you convey it into your private home.

(Beware, by the best way, those “new” mattresses which can be marketed on Craigslist. In accordance with inexperienced residing expert Danny Seo, these may be old curbside mattresses masquerading as new, thanks to the addition of a fresh fabric cover and a layer of shrink wrap.)

However I say the chance of buying a used mattress isn’t worth it. When you do wind up with bed bugs and so they spread to your different belongings, you may be sending extra stuff to the landfill than simply your mattress.

Then, too, there are the chemicals that may have to be used in your home by knowledgeable pest management company to eradicate the insects. (DIY pest control is not recommended, since it can make bed bugs spread.) Is there a trusted pal or household member who may hand down a mattress instead?

Your greatest choice: Put money into a excessive-high quality mattress made from natural and biodegradable supplies. One firm, Essentia, makes its petroleum- and VOC-free memory foam mattresses from natural latex, a renewable resource that comes from the rubber tree plant. Shepherd’s Dream wool mattresses are designed to final decades, and may even be sent again to the company for refurbishing.

Not surprisingly, these come with the next-than-common worth tag. However when you consider that a traditional spring mattress needs to be replaced each five to seven years, you might decide that the long-time period funding (for you and the planet) is worth it.

After all, we won’t shut a conversation about buying a brand new (or new-used) mattress with out discussing what to do along with your old one. You would not understand it, primarily based on how a lot of them are kicked to the curb, however previous mattresses can, actually, be recycled.

If, on Earth911.com or this listing right here you can’t discover a recycling facility near you, donate the mattress to someone who actually needs it, by way of The Salvation Army or Freecycle. Just make sure your offering is free of mattress bugs; no one needs to reuse a batch of these.

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