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Why Latex and Why Now?

The quest for quality sleep unites everyone – after all sleep is a basic need but complex in nature. Sleep continues to be explored in scientific studies but also a constant artistic and literary subject. And why not? Perhaps a combined understanding of the physiology and artistry of sleep could lead to a better experience.

One aspect debated continuously is the best material for mattresses, with latex and memory foam leading the pack. Much as sleep is a uniquely individual experience, the same can be said for how a mattress feels. Pricing is generally competitive with a variety of brands at a range of price points. In my view, the deciding factor is social and environmental impact with the sourcing and production processes. Latex wins, simply put, as specifically demonstrated by Peacelily below.

Starting with the raw material harvested from rubber trees (Hevea brasilensis), latex already has the advantage of being the most natural option. The liquid rubber is hand-tapped via a flesh wound which helps preserve the life of the tree. Proper hand tapping allows for the trees to rest a day in between and there are two months in a year when no rubber is harvested. The rubber sap is then processed with 4% percent of zinc oxide and sulfur to solidify, with the resultant new compound moulded then cured. Biomass boilers are used to generate heat and complete the curing process. The latex product is then hot water washed in river water and dried before completed with 100% GOTS Certified Organic Cotton cover and tape.

Memory foam or viscoelastic foam, on the other hand, primarily uses polyurethane which is a petroleum-based material. Reactive agents such as polypols and isocyanates are added to create a liquid-like compound that is poured into moulds. Other chemicals and surfactants are added to meet fire retardation safety guidelines, specifically since polyurethane is a highly combustible synthetic material. Whilst there is an attempt to make memory foam greener with the development of plant-based versions, these products are still predominantly made with polyurethane and chemical adhesives. Fumigation is also typically part of the production process. The synthetic materials allow for mass production for other industries as well driving cost down.

Beyond the materials used, which become a natural vs synthetic choice, we need to then turn the discussion to degradation. All products break down over time, but how does latex compare with memory foams in this area? Natural latex is 100% biodegradable but is innately elastic allowing for it to mould to the body. It is this resilience which also contributes to its durability and longer life span, which gives us confidence in offering the 25 Year Peacelily Warranty. Some latex mattresses have even been reported to last for 40 years!

Knowing how your conscious choice has a positive impact to nature should be one more reason for improving your sleep health.

why latex mattress

Memory foam does the opposite and retains body indentation through the addition of benzene or naphthalene, both reactive and harmful to humans. These additives help achieve minimal partner disturbance often used as a marketing and selling point, but the reality is these chemicals on top of the other materials already in the mattress emit odours and Volatile Organic Compounds (or VOCs) straight away as they degrade. Memory foam mattresses will need replacing every eight to ten years due to decline in structural integrity, commonly seen as sagging or losing shape.

Rounding up the superiority of natural latex is its breathability. Due to its open cell structure, air flows freely. The ventilation means the products are repellent to dust mites, bed-bugs, mould, mildew and different types of bacteria. The microbial nature of natural latex is why it’s a popular choice for sterile gloves. Memory foam as a synthetic product can not replicate this quality and moisture spells doom for the mattress as it becomes a breeding ground for microbes and mites. The likelihood of disposing a latex mattress for this reason is low and a memory foam then becomes more disposable.

With all things considered, natural latex is the more environmentally healthy choice to take now. Supporting the natural latex industry means fostering growth of more rubber trees. A single rubber tree can make 3-8 latex mattresses and be tapped for about 26 years over its lifetime. But on average, one rubber tree can absorb approximately 1570 kg of carbon dioxide. On top of having a mattress that suits your budget, position preference and other factors, knowing how your conscious choice has a positive impact to nature should be one more reason for the improving your sleep health.