Resources for Businesses for a Healthier Economy

August 12th, 2014 by Sebastian

Sustainable business practices influence all levels of life: workers, consumers and businesses across the country who stand to lose greatly if we don’t protect our environment. The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) can help you keep up to date on initiatives and efforts working toward a healthier, more sustainable economy.

ASBC LogoTo this end, ASBC recently rolled out a cleaner website design to enhance the public’s understanding of these important issues.

Geared to businesses who want to create a more sustainable economy, the ASBC website has material that anyone interested in these issues will find useful.  Highlighting topics like safer chemicals, agriculture, energy, workers’ rights, pollution, climate change and more, the website allows visitors to catch up on current research and new trends in sustainable business. Readers can also learn about pending legislation, both at the state and federal levels, and read polling reports commissioned by ASBC on some of the biggest issues of the day, like climate, extreme weather, and minimum wage.

Most importantly, the ASBC website showcases actions people can take in working for sustainability. For example, the site includes pre-written templates to help easily reach out to legislators. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle like to talk about how much they love small businesses – that’s precisely why this kind of tool is important.

ASBC shows that sustainability and business do go hand in hand, and that meaningful change requires the collective efforts of individuals, businesses, researchers and governments. After all,  people, cities, factories and stores are all located on one single planet. If we don’t take action to protect the planet, it’s not just polar bears that will suffer – our economy will too.

Naturepedic, along with sustainability-minded businesses including Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation, Patagonia, Stonyfield Farm and more, is a proud member of ASBC and the Companies for Safer Chemicals coalition.

 

Naturepedic Puts Veggies to Work

July 28th, 2014 by Sebastian

Vegetables are awesome to eat, but they also serve as a sustainable raw material in making bio-based fabrics.  Well played, veggies!

In time for Las Vegas Market*, Naturepedic is announcing the use of this plant-based fabric to wrap the coils in its EOS organic mattress.  Similar bio-based fabric is already used in European mattresses, but Naturepedic is the first to use it in the U.S.

Of course we take things a few steps further (because that’s how we are!) First, our fabric is being sourced from non-GMO plants. Next, we’ve come up with a special process to securely seal the coils with the bio-based fabric without the need for adhesives. The individual wrapped coils are then collectively encased in an organic cotton fabric zippered case for greater ease of installation and added durability.

EOS will of course continue to include plenty of organic cotton, wool, and, depending on the configuration, GOLS-certified organic latex. Bio-based fabric is just another sustainable addition.

Yet another way veggies are working for you!

 

*Las Vegas Market is a HUGE trade show held twice a year in, of course, Las Vegas.  Home furnishings, décor and gift manufacturers set up to attract the eyes of buyers for retail stores from all over the U.S. and beyond. This industry show brings in some 50,000 buyers looking to snag the latest, coolest and best new items to sell in their stores. Naturepedic’s display can be found in the Specialty Sleep Association Showroom (C1565).  Summer Market 2014 runs July 27 through 31. [include Market photo].

 

Naturepedic New Stuff

July 28th, 2014 by Sebastian

In earlier posts I mentioned Naturepedic’s upcoming display at the massive trade show Las Vegas Market in July. It’s not a show without NEW offerings, so here’s the newest of the new from Naturepedic:

Trio

We officially launched our Trio washable, customizable organic pillow system. Yes, it really is a customizable pillow, and by customization I don’t mean you can change the pillowcase to a different color.

Three layers of the Trio Pillow. Don't just fluff it ... adjust it!

Three layers of the Trio Pillow. Don’t just fluff it … adjust it!

The concept behind the Trio is to offer a soft, luxurious fluffy feel but keep support integrity for postural alignment. We accomplish this with a layered approach. At the core of the Trio is a zippered inner compartment made of organic cotton filled with organic latex. The zipper allows a user to adjust the latex fill to achieve the perfect loft for their individual preference.

Covering the inner “pillow” is a super comfy quilted encasement. This gives the cloudlike feel of the Trio. The third level is an organic cotton pillowcase with foldover flaps, keeping the other two layers secure. Of course the pillowcase is washable, but what’s great is the quilted encasement is also machine washable, allowing you to keep your luxurious pillow clean and sanitary.

Adult Organic Waterproof Protector Pads

Waterproof protector pads for mattresses are known for being crinkly and crunchy, taking away from the comfort feel of the mattress underneath. Not ours. Our adult-sized certified organic cotton waterproof mattress protector pad is stretchable and soft. Our protector pad doesn’t make you feel like you’re sleeping on a shower curtain, but instead lets the mattress feel underneath come through, like it should. Our organic protector pad is waterproof without the vinyl/PVC, phthalates, or latex rubber and without the PFCs found in many waterproofed products.

FlexSlat™

Our new FlexSlat™ Adjustable European Style Slat Foundation adds some control to your foundation. If you haven’t seen a slat foundation before, it’s an entirely different approach, and a good one at that.

Bowed flexible wooden slats allow users to adjust the tension for customized support, and the open design offers greater air circulation. To adjust the foundation, users move sliders to bring fine-tuning to a new level. Slat foundations are popular in Europe.

For those attending, Naturepedic can be found at Booth C-1565 at the July Las Vegas Market.

Naturepedic Goes Beyond Certified

July 23rd, 2014 by Sebastian

The time is here for Naturepedic to show off in a big way … to the retail industry, that is.

Naturepedic is prepping for Las Vegas Market in July, an industry show where companies showcase their latest and greatest offerings in furniture, home décor and gifts. The biannual Las Vegas Market is a whopper of a show: picture some 50,000 or more buyers for the stores you know and many you don’t arriving from all over the country, even world, to decide the products their stores will carry. It’s big.

For the July show, Naturepedic debuts its Beyond Certified campaign to educate retailers about the clever innovations and product variety offered in our adult organic mattresses, which, on top of everything are independently certified organic to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). Not only do our mattresses earn GOTS certification, but so does our entire manufacturing facility. That gives us bragging rights.

The Beyond Certified campaign works toward two goals.  One is to reinforce the importance of GOTS certification, which separates organic products like ours from those making hollow “green” claims.  Another goal is to flaunt how Naturepedic is bringing a fresh approach back to organic mattresses, which for years was stuck in a latex-only funk.

Las Vegas Market lets us show what's in our mattresses. (display from previous Market)

Las Vegas Market lets us show what’s in our mattresses. (display from previous Market)

We do make amazing GOTS-certified all organic latex mattresses, but we do a lot more. Regarding latex, we are the only organic mattress manufacturer exclusively using latex certified to the Global Organic Latex Standard, or GOLS.

Latex is great, but many people enjoy the cooler sleep offered from the increased airflow afforded by coils or simply don’t want an all-foam mattress, organic or not. We provide a variety of GOTS-certified designs to make them very happy. Not only do we offer organic latex foam top comfort layers atop organic cotton fabric encased coils for a best of both worlds design, we also provide latex-free models with comfy encased comfort coils for luxurious latex-free comfort. Did you know Naturepedic is the only maker of GOTS-certified cotton encased coil mattresses in the U.S.? We are!  (I told you – this is our time to show off!)

Fresh also means doing things differently, like offering an organic sleep system that lets you customize your layers.  Our EOS™ brings a European flair to organic mattresses with a modern look, and allows customers to create their own dream mattresses, even with different firmness levels on each side of the bed for sleep partners with clashing preferences.  That’s something you just don’t see in typical organic mattresses!

EOS lets you customize your sleep experience

EOS lets you customize your sleep experience

And that’s the point of Beyond Certified.  At Naturepedic we are not typical.  We are constantly innovating, developing and offering creative new approaches to organic mattresses and accessories made with healthier materials, but always with a dedication to old-fashioned quality.

I guess we’re just an old-fashioned, non-traditional trendsetting innovator of healthier, safer, more comfortable mattresses!  It’s fun to brag sometimes.

Going to July Market? Visit us at Booth C-1565.

First Candle Works to Help Babies Reach Their First Birthday

July 21st, 2014 by Sebastian

First Candle Safe Sleep Media Star logoIn a perfect world, every baby arrives at his or her first birthday, giggling and happy. First Candle is working toward that world.

The organization is dedicated to researching and preventing sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUIDs), striving to put an end to the devastation of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and stillbirths. Both a research and advocacy group, First Candle also provides resources to help families touched by these tragedies. The name First Candle refers to that very first candle on a cake celebrating a one-year birthday. According to the organization, every year in the U.S. there are 26,000 stillbirths and 4,000 infants under one year who die unexpectedly.

In addition to spearheading research, First Candle also educates through their website and outreach programs. Their website alone is full of tips to help keep baby safe, including swaddling suggestions, basics for creating safer sleep environments, healthy practices for expecting moms, and more. Expecting parents can even download and print their own Kick Count Chart.

One of First Candle’s latest initiatives is the Safe Sleep Media Stars Campaign. According to First Candle, a study of magazines targeted to women of child-bearing age revealed that more than one-third of marketing images showed babies sleeping face down or in other unsafe sleep positions and more than two-thirds depicted babies in unsafe sleep environments. Through the Media Stars Campaign, First Candle promotes responsible media imagery of sleeping babies in print and online.

First Candle offers plenty of tips for moms and moms-to-be, but their website is also valuable to dads, grandparents, caregivers, and anyone and everyone who interacts with babies (or shows images of sleeping babies). By increasing awareness, First Candle works with everyone to collectively help each baby reach that first adorable birthday.

As a First Candle Media Star, Naturepedic has pledged to only show sleeping babies resting in safe positions or environments.

 

 

Demand for Safer Chemicals Gets Broader Acceptance

June 26th, 2014 by Sebastian

Debate continues to rage regarding reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Many industry watchers are guessing that any reform of the national law is becoming less and less likely to happen before the close of 2014.

Legislative reform or not, the topic of safer chemicals in consumer products is capturing public attention, and businesses are noticing. High profile initiatives by retailers Wal-Mart, Target and Whole Foods underscore the burgeoning realization that safer products makes good business sense.

Of course any reform or initiative is only as good as the details within the effort. Simply participating in a “safer chemical” program does not a safer product make. Nonetheless, these initiatives show that concerns have moved out of the insular world of environmentalism and into the broader consumer base. TSCA after all was passed back in 1976, and only ten years ago its existence was largely known only by environmentalists and legislators. Now in 2014 the law now is being discussed by parent, consumer and health organizations and the individuals that make up those groups. Awareness has grown.

In earlier posts we’ve mentioned the American Sustainable Business Council and its Companies for Safer Chemicals Coalition. Here are some of the many other efforts looking to curb toxic chemicals in products.

0 ZCHC logoRoadmap to Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) This voluntary initiative for apparel manufacturers and retailers began in 2011, with the goal of moving the industry towards zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020.

 

Healthier Hosptials Initiative logo Twelve large health systems joined with Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), the Center for Health Design, and Practice Greenhealth to create the Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI). HHI is designed as a guide for hospitals to reduce energy and waste, choose safer and less toxic products, and purchase and serve healthier foods.

 

BizNGO logoA collaborative of businesses and environmental groups working toward safer chemicals. BizNGO.org has pioneered the GreenScreen method for companies to better assess chemical choices.

 

Safer States logoSafer States, part of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, provides discusses efforts  by state, both public and private, working to reduce questionable chemicals. This site offers a variety of information and provides a bill tracker to show the progress of proposed legislation for safer chemicals by state. Additionally, the site provides a good snapshot of efforts occurring nationally.

The above initiatives indicate that the topic of safer chemicals is likely not going away. Further, the ease of sharing information provided by the Internet is bringing the topic mainstream and into the business world, where it needs to be.

After all, safer products benefit everyone, not just environmentalists.

Naturepedic Handmade Mattresses: Real People, Real Quality

June 25th, 2014 by Sebastian

 

Our mattresses are handmade. Really.

A toy zipping down a conveyor belt, made from wooden pieces cut by a pre-programmed robotic machine then painted by an automated sprayer but in the end assembled with four bolts by hand is not “handmade” in my mind. To me, handmade is something lovingly made by a real person or persons.

Naturepedic mattresses are handmade in the classic sense.686A9499

Our manufacturing plant in Ohio (fully certified to the stringent Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), by the way) doesn’t use an assembly line, for starters.  Instead, you’ll see stations where skilled craftspeople are sewing, cutting, and otherwise building mattresses, each person paying close attention to the job at hand. The process reminds me of watching an heirloom guitar being hand built.

One of the greatest features of this approach is every individual employee in our factory is empowered to stop the process if something isn’t right, and by right, I mean perfect. One of our greatest sources of pride is the pride our employees put into their craft. Of course we use machines and tools, particularly for stitching, but behind every machine or tool is a detail-oriented person obsessively checking for quality.

Coils, made in house, are individually wrapped in organic cotton sleeves and hand attached

My favorite part, and one of the most remarkable processes to watch, is the creation of metal coils, each individually wrapped in organic cotton fabric. Amazing. To do this, we use reconditioned vintage machines from Europe that are in themselves things of beauty. The machinery creates the coiled springs from straight wire, compresses the coil and allows them to be sewn into the cotton pockets. The precision machinery, while old, is exceptionally complicated, with a remarkable number of moving parts. After each coil is wrapped, a craftsman hand attaches the individual coils.

The bottom line is we simply don’t take short cuts. We craft mattresses with real people, skillfully working together to make awesome products. That’s what I call handmade.

To watch some of the handmade process and to catch a glimpse of the machinery I mentioned above that coils the wires, check out our award-winning video.

Regrettable Substitutions

June 24th, 2014 by Sebastian

 

Questionable chemicals associated with health and developmental issues such as cancer, thyroid disruption and learning disabilities can show up in the most innocuous of consumer products. These chemicals sometimes, although infrequently, garner enough bad press to get them removed, either voluntarily or involuntarily. Unfortunately, removal may not be what it seems.

beakersWhy? Because an offending chemical can be removed simply to be replaced with a similar, possibly worse chemical. Called “regrettable substitution” by the Environmental Defense Fund and other organizations, this strategy may temporarily solve a company’s marketing or PR problem but does little to get an actual safer product to the consumer. And there are virtually no regulations to prevent this.

BPA

Take for example Bisphenol-A, or BPA. Following an outcry from the private and academic sectors on BPA’s links to hormonal disruption and connections to cancer and diabetes, the FDA banned it from baby bottles and sippy cups in 2012 (although according to the FDA it was not banned for health reasons but due to industry abandonment). Even before the ban, companies had begun making “BPA-Free” products and parents breathed a sigh of relieve.

The problem, however, is that BPA was commonly replaced with an equally questionable chemical.  Current regulations require no safety testing or even disclosure.  BPA-free does not necessarily equal safe.

Phthalates

Similar responses occurred with the phthalate DEHP (phthalates are plasticizers used to make vinyl plastics softer and more pliable). Following associations with disruption of male reproductive development, products, particularly those marketed to the healthcare industry, began being advertised as “free of DEHP.” While technically truthful, DEHP can be replaced with other phthalates, possibly trading one problem for another.

Curious about what phthalates can be used? Congress banned three types of phthalates (DEHP, DBP, BBP) in any amount greater than 0.1 percent in some children’s toys and select child care articles. Additionally, Congress banned on an interim basis the phthalates DINP, DIDP, DnOP in any amount greater than 0.1 percent, but only for articles that can be placed in a child’s mouth or sucked.

In other words, out of more than a dozen currently used phthalates and phthalate substitutes, six have been banned in very specific product uses for children. For a children’s item that can’t be placed in a baby’s mouth, unless the consumer has access to a chemical testing lab, there is no way to know if phthalates are being used or which ones or whether they are safe.

Lack of Regulation

Lack of regulation and transparency not only puts the consumer at risk, but also makes life difficult for companies legitimately looking to offer safer products. For us at Naturepedic, the answer was to avoid the questionable chemicals altogether.  Rather than attempt to find a safer phthalate (or flame retardant or many other chemicals) we simply don’t use them, period.

While consumers should continue to do their homework regarding product safety, they should also insist on stronger safeguards against harmful chemicals. Discussions have begun on potential reform to the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976, but real progress has yet to be made.

For more information on the risks of BPA-free products, read Environmental Defense Fund’s Sarah Vogel’s article “BPA-Free” plastics may pose equal or greater hazard than predecessors. For tips on avoiding BPA and phthalates, read the tip sheet from the Silent Spring Institute.

Making Better Decisions: Consumer Supported Agriculture

June 23rd, 2014 by Sebastian

 

Working for a company committed to using the best organic materials, it’s probably not surprising I am personally committed to eating organic vegetables. Last week I picked up my first shipment of organically grown produce purchased through Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA.

Geauga Family Farms in OhioCommunity Supported Agriculture is available throughout the U.S. and allows small farms to pre-sell shares of their crops directly to consumers before the growing season begins. Living in Ohio, I joined the Geauga Family Farms CSA (the term CSA is used to refer to the overall principle as well as the individual farm group), a collective of small, mostly organic farms located around my area. For the particular selection I bought, everything is guaranteed organic with the exception of the blueberries, pears and apples which will appear later in the year; other options allow you to only get organic produce.

Each week, I pick up my shares of vegetables and fruits at a local greenhouse (if you’re ever in Northeast Ohio make sure you stop by Lowe’s Greenhouse who graciously offers their site for produce pickup). The shares vary week to week and reflect whatever is ripe for harvest. Last week included colorful Swiss chard, rutabaga, leaf lettuce, one of the first cucumbers of the season and other produce, all organically grown.

With a CSA I directly support farmers in my community. CSA also means vegetables and fruits that are truly ripe instead of having been picked too early to allow for cross country transport, and if. By getting only what is ready for harvest, I enjoy vegetables grown in season. I also get vegetables I might be hesitant to otherwise purchase, expanding my food range and encouraging me to try out new recipes.

If you don’t grow your own food it’s easy to feel disconnected to the farming process. Like a local farmer’s market, CSA narrows that disconnect by connecting you to the natural growing season and allowing you to interact directly with the people who grow your food.

Plus, there’s a geeky anticipation to see what veggies will grace this week’s basket. I’m working on building up that wonder in my kids. If I can get them excited about vegetables, then I’ve really scored big with CSA!

New Study Looks at Chemicals Linked to Breast Cancer; Flame Retardants, Chemicals in Consumer Products Make Priority List

June 19th, 2014 by Sebastian

 

On May 12, 2014 the journal Environmental Health Perspectives published a new peer-reviewed study identifying seventeen types of chemicals specifically linked to breast cancer. Of the 102 chemicals in the study, many are ones women may be exposed to on a daily basis from everyday products.

Silent Spring Institute logo

Silent Spring Institute logo

The study was conducted by researchers at the Silent Spring Institute (named after Rachel Carson’s influential book) and the Harvard School of Public Health. While it may not come as a surprise that a number of the chemical types can be found in tobacco smoke and vehicle exhaust, some of the priority chemicals are found in common consumer products like ink jet and laser jet printers, hair dyes and paint. These are all chemicals legally used and virtually unregulated.

The study also identified flame retardants used in foams found in mattresses and furniture cushions and chemicals found in certain textile dyes as priority threats. Under current laws, manufacturers are not required to disclose the flame retardant chemicals or chemical dyes used in their products.

At Naturepedic we are proud that all of our mattresses for all ages, baby, youth and adult, meet flammability standards without the need for chemical flame retardants or barriers. Because our mattresses meet strict organic guidelines such as the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), you are guaranteed they do not contain toxic chemical dyes, either.

Our mattresses let us make a positive difference in people’s lives in our area of specialty: mattresses. To learn other ways you can avoid common carcinogenic chemicals, check out easy tips from the Silent Spring Institute published on the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families website.