Organic Mattress Retailing Series – Part 9: Proper Organic Mattress Messaging
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The first seven installments in this organic mattress retailing series closely examined the product category, its profit potential, and certifications. Previous articles in the series can be found at https://www.furninfo.com/series/Naturepedic/66.
Let’s now expand the discussion introduced in installment eight by reviewing specific messaging and marketing claims made by manufacturers and retailers. Many of these claims have been used to describe organic mattresses and products included in the broader “natural/ sustainable/ eco-friendly” marketplace.
First, we’ll look at terms that should generally not be used when describing organic mattresses, the retailers that sell them or the factories that manufacture them.
UNACCEPTABLE MATTRESS CLAIMS
- Compostable – No organic mattress meets the requirements to be “compostable.” Most materials decompose over time. However, organic and non-organic mattresses are designed to last a long time and do not decompose considerably, even if sitting in a landfill for many years.
- Degradable – ditto.
- Recyclable – There are two requirements for a mattress to be considered recyclable. Its materials must have the potential to be recycled. In addition, consumers must have reasonable access to recycling facilities. Without this access, only the potential for recycling exists. Easy access to mattress recycling is largely unavailable in the US and Canada.
- Medical claims – Organic mattress companies that make medical claims, such as, “you’ll live longer” or “it will cure eczema,” violate FDA guidelines. Organic mattresses may improve health in some ways, but making explicit claims can get marketers in hot water with the FDA.
ACCEPTABLE MATTRESS CLAIMS
- Organic – This claim should only be made if a product is certified organic. The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the recognized organic certification for mattresses.
- Non-Toxic – This claim should only be made if a product is clearly certified to meet a “non-toxic” standard. The primary certification that claims to meet this standard is MADE SAFE.
- Claims Related to Standards – If a claim is qualified to a recognized standard and doesn’t exceed what the standard represents, it is generally defensible.
- Opinions – To some degree, opinions may be defensible for some types of claims.
- Renewable Materials – For example, cotton fill is widely considered renewable, and its use is defensible. That’s not the case for most foams.
- Recycled Materials – The dividing line between the terms ‘recycled’ and ‘used’ is not always clear. In the US, “Law Labels” must read “Made with All New Materials.” It’s a confusing, shifting landscape. Manufacturers largely maintain that a material made of recycled materials can still be labeled “new.” The most common and clearest example is that most steel coils used in mattress construction are made with recycled steel.
ACCEPTABLE CLAIMS BY MATTRESS MANUFACTURERS
Acceptable claims include those positive statements defined and defended. Although increasingly associated with organic mattresses, the following claims may apply to any mattress manufacturer’s products.
- Carbon Offsets Purchased Offset CO2 Emissions
- Manufactured with Renewable Energy
ACCEPTABLE CLAIMS THAT CAN BE USED IF WELL-DEFINED
Some claims require detailed explanations to avoid being meaningless at best. These include:
Note: “Sustainable” is a relatively new, widely used marketing descriptor that means nothing unless clearly defined. What exactly about the product or the factory is sustainable? Unless a clear and reasonable explanation is given, caution is suggested in making this claim.
In subsequent articles, I will provide additional details and helpful insights.
About Barry A. Cik:
Barry A. Cik is a Board Certified Environmental Engineer and founder and technical director of Naturepedic Organic Mattresses & Bedding. Since 2003, Naturepedic has been on a mission to protect the lives of families through safer, healthier organic-based products that have a positive impact on the environment. A brand with purpose, transparency, and ethical practices, Naturepedic is the recipient of many certifications and is highly respected by numerous health and environmental organizations (https://www.naturepedic.com/certifications
) and is an EPA Green Power Partner. Since its inception, Naturepedic has been a consistent and generous advocate and supporter of NGOs and nonprofits advocating for the “Right to Know” about what is in the products that people bring into their homes.