Posts Tagged ‘organic’

Flame Retardants, Polyurethane Foam and Flashover

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

The Risks

There’s a lot of discussion over health concerns associated with chemical flame retardants, particularly those found in mattresses and furniture. One of the most common classes of flame retardants, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which was widely used for decades before the environmental community focused attention on it, and pressured manufacturers to stop, has been linked to an unsettling smorgasbord of issues including thyroid disruption, developmental issues in children, memory and cognitive problems, lower IQ and reduced fertility.

Studies of other flame retardants are seeing links to cancer. Groups representing firefighters in various states are raising concerns about the toxicity of flame retardants, arguing they increase the risks for cancer in first responders while doing little to retard fires.

So with these types of risks, why in the world are chemical flame retardants so prevalent?

The question lies less with the flame retardants themselves and more with the polyurethane foam in the furniture and mattresses.

Then vs. Now

Travel in time to a living room in 1940s America. The cushioning materials in the furniture include natural materials ranging from cotton, excelsior (wood shavings), down and horse hair.

Image from a magazine ad from 1955 - things were a little bit different

Image from a magazine ad from 1955 – things were a little bit different

Now today. Couches, chairs, crib mattresses, changing pads, and adult mattresses (including memory foam ones), are often filled with polyurethane foam, an intensely flammable material.

Flame retardants are used in an attempt to offset the stored energy in polyurethane foam, although their effectiveness is questionable, as you’ll see

Flashover

A “flashover” is the point in a house fire when an entire room self-ignites as a result of the heat caused by a fire.

Watch the eye-opening video above made by the National Institute of Standards and Testing. A room furnished with the typical synthetic fabrics and polyurethane foam cushioning of today reaches flashover in an astonishing three minutes and forty seconds!  Comparatively, a room furnished with items as would be found in a 1950s or so house takes almost a half hour.

The vintage materials burn, but without the rapid heat release of the polyurethane foam, which has been called “solid gasoline” by the National Association of State Fire Marshals. In fact, burning untreated polyurethane foam can reach temperatures of 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit in only minutes! That incredible heat release leads to an incredibly rapid flashover.

While other materials in the room contributed, the immense impact of polyurethane foam can’t be overstated.

Where There Is Smoke

You probably also notice the billowing black smoke from the fire. As mentioned earlier, firefighters have become increasingly concerned about the inhalation of carcinogenic flame retardants found in the smoke and increased cancer rates in firefighters.

Beyond the risk of flame retardants, though, is the risk of the deadly and debilitating hydrogen cyanide gas released from burning polyurethane foam. Inhaled hydrogen cyanide quickly leads to confusion, unconsciousness and death. Hydrogen cyanide is the gas used in the 1995 Tokyo subway attack and was implicated in the deadly concert fire in Rhode Island in 2003.

Highly Flammable Materials Require Flame Retardant Chemicals

When looking at the materials in your next mattress for you or your children, consider not only the materials in the mattress, but the flame retardant chemicals those materials demand. When buying a mattress, remember the 3 minute 40 second marker on the video.

Naturepedic Mattresses Contain No Flame Retardant Chemicals

Naturepedic organic mattresses do not require flame retardant chemicals to pass government flammability standards. We begin by using less flammable materials in the first place. Simply put: polyurethane foam requires chemical flame retardants, and we never use polyurethane foam.

 

 

Earth Day Musings from Naturepedic

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

We’re about organic mattresses at Naturepedic so we love Earth Day as much as National Sleep Day (Jan. 3), World Sleep Day (March 14) and even National Sleep Week in March! A combination of better earth choices and sleep is our thing.

sprouts

Wake up the kid in you — it’s Earth Day!

Speaking for myself, I love the centering aspect of Earth Day; it reminds me to reexamine how my choices and actions affect the planet.

Instead of focusing on the gloom and doom of pollution and environmental degradation, I use Earth Day to recharge my energy toward positive action where I can make a difference.

Additionally, I use Earth Day to remember how cool our Earth is. If you’ve temporarily forgotten, go look at a spider web up close or at the sprouting plants all around to recapture some of that childlike wonder about planet Earth.

Competition for Planet Earth

green-city-feature

(c) City of Vancouver website

Five years ago, Vancouver (in Canada, not the state of Washington) kicked off its Greenest City Action Plan, a goal to become the greenest city in North America. They might be on to something.

Consider: a city collectively working for the bragging rights of being the greenest city. Instead of pouring money and energy into defeating and circumventing earth-friendly action, could cities, governments and companies use a spirit of competition to drive toward a healthier environment?

Top Cities for Earth Day Celebrations

According to a ranking by website SaveOnEnergy.com, Austin, Texas takes the top spot for Earth Day Celebrations in 2014 with their Austin Earth Day Festival. If you’re heading out to Austin, check out Naturepedic mattresses at The Clean Bedroom or Austin Natural Mattresses.

Earth Day Selfie

NASA is promoting aGlobalSelfie_shareable_FINAL Where Are You on Earth Right Now? #GlobalSelfie campaign. People tweet pics of where they are on the planet on Earth Day, April 22 using the hashtags #GlobalSelfie, #NASA #EarthDay. The campaign is part of their Earth Right Now campaign. Visit the NASA website to learn about the campaign and download Global Selfie signs.

 Happy, Healthy Earth Day from Your Friends at Naturepedic!

 

And remember: Sleep on a Naturepedic Organic Mattress and you’ll get to celebrate Earth Night, too!

 

Opinions DO matter!

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

When it comes to buying new and more expensive products, the internet has been a saving grace for me.  I scour various sites and blogs for any reviews I can find so that I can make the most informed decision possible based on my needs and the experiences of my peers with similar products.  Getting actual user feedback on various models and brands, I feel more confident when I finally lay down my hard earned money.

Don’t just take our word for it!  Naturepedic has been working with bloggers for several years and we thought you would love an easy place to see our reviews.  We live in such a fast paced world that anything we can do to save you time in researching our products would be of value to you.

StumbleUpon.com is the perfect venue to provide this service to you.  Each week, we add new product reviews and blogger giveaways to our StumbleUpon Likes page.  We are also adding in all of our past reviews so you can have as many reviews to look through as possible for the products you are interested in.  There will be other interesting articles and press releases about our company that you might enjoy as well.
StumbleUponWhat a great way to collect all of your favorite information and sites in one spot for reading at a later time or to share with your friends and family.  If you like what you read, give a thumbs up and add the link to your own StumbleUpon page.  Be sure to Follow us so you can see when new reviews and giveaways come in. Start Stumbling?

Naturepedic’s EOS Customizable Organic Sleep System: Fitting Your Lifestyle AND Up the Stairs

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Naturepedic’s latest certified organic sleep concept the EOS offers many benefits, including customization and ease of ordering.

Eos even goes up castle stairs! (CC Photo, Harlech Danger, used courtesy of Dave Younce on Flickr)

Eos even goes up castle stairs!
(CC Photo, Harlech Danger, used courtesy of Dave Younce on Flickr)

One benefit that might get overlooked, however, is getting your mattress into your room. In some homes that can be a major challenge!

If you live in a five-story walk-up with no elevator, a century home with narrow door frames, or any furniture-moving nightmare of a building but still want to sleep on a  luxurious organic mattress, than EOS has just become your solution.

EOS is designed for convenience.  You can order your EOS online even if no physical store is nearby and mattress components ship to your door by ground.

Now back to that narrow staircase. When your EOS arrives, each layer is boxed separately, meaning manageable weight for even one person.  The support (bottom) layer of any queen sized or larger EOS comes in two side by side sections instead of a single larger component.

It gets easier.

Coiled components are cleverly rolled and packaged so you have a manageable sized box. And don’t worry – when you set up your EOS, coils gently unroll rather than snapping out like a joke snakes in a peanut can. All of this puts you in control.

Should you order a support layer of organic latex, the latex is not only split side by side, but each eight inches of lush organic latex will also be split into two four inch layers for a total of four easy-to-move components.

For the top comfort layer, you select either comfort coils or organic latex and in your desired firmness. A queen size or larger comfort layer can be a single component, but you have the option of ordering it as two side by side components. By ordering the comfort layer in two sections, moving it is not only easier, but you can also order a different firmness for each side of the bed, such as a firm comfort coil for him and a plush comfort coil for her.

Eos - luxurious organics that scoff at narrow hallways!

Eos – luxurious organics that scoff at narrow hallways!

By designing the EOS with your lifestyle in mind, Naturepedic gives you the healthy, organic sleep you want, even if that sleep happens in a stylish bedroom atop a spiral staircase.

 

Naturepedic at 2014 Great Lakes Green Chemistry Conference

Friday, April 4th, 2014

2014-logo

Naturepedic Founder Barry Cik was a panelist speaker at the 2014 Great Lakes Green Chemistry Conference, held in Cleveland, Ohio April 1-3. This year’s focus was “Innovating for Success in Green Chemistry”.

Active in organizations at both the national and local levels, Cik has long been a champion of finding safer, healthier alternatives for companies to make products and conduct business.

Barry_GLGCC

Naturepedic founder Barry Cik takes the podium at the Great Lakes Green Chemistry Conference in Cleveland, Ohio

The conference explored how innovations in green chemistry can accelerate change in the Great Lakes Region (where Naturepedic is based), not just in business, but also in policy and public health and safety. The conference looked at ways to promote collaboration between business, academia, and legislators.

Naturepedic was previously recognized by an award from the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR) as a charter member for its 2025 Safer Chemistry Challenge Program.

The Challenge Program, began by NPPR in collaboration with the Great Lakes Green Chemistry Conference and Clean Production Action, recognizes company operations that reduce the use of hazardous and toxic chemicals by finding and selecting alternative, safer materials and chemistries.

 

Organic Mattresses – No, you can’t eat them

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

We make organic mattresses.

No, you can’t eat them.

Yes, I’m asked that.

I’m not insulted by the “can you eat them” question. The concept of non-food organics has largely not entered the public consciousness yet, but it will. Remember not too long ago organic food wasn’t even being considered by many.

As a kid, I didn’t know organic vegetables existed. Organic was as foreign to little me as fois gras or bidets (it squirts where??!!)

Is this an organic vegetable washer? What's organic?

Is this an organic vegetable washer? What’s organic?

Even after encountering the concept as a pre-teen (about organic produce, not bidets), organic food was confined to specialty stores populated by specialty people.

I never thought about the vegetables from my family’s garden as organic. Those were just vegetables.

Organic as a concept

Now in 2014, organic food has not only moved into the mainstream as a healthy eating option but as a familiar concept.

People now discuss the health benefits of organic food, and these considerations affect buying choices. Before these choices could happen, though, they first had to realize there were different options.

Now they are beginning to realize they have similar options with mattresses.

While all of us spend about a third of our lives in beds sleeping, the materials closest to our faces for most of the night (or day if a night shifter) have been ignored. Why? I don’t know.  Mattresses were “just there.” In the past someone would consider how a mattress felt but not even think about the materials inside or how they might affect health.

mom and baby grocery storeThankfully, an ever expanding circle of people are learning they can get a luxurious mattress without simply accepted materials as a given.

The truth is a lot of mattresses have questionable chemicals and synthetics: PFCs, flame retardant chemicals, pesticides and more. There is a choice to purchase mattresses with or without them.

They exist

Our belief at Naturepedic, supported by our involvement in scientific and environmental groups, panels and discussions, is it’s healthier to sleep on organic materials and avoid many of the synthetics and chemicals that have become industry standards.

This is our business, designed not as a marketing gimmick but built from our core philosophy outward. We believe fewer chemicals means healthier sleep.

Organic mattresses exist, and they are great.

 

You still can’t eat them, though.

Wait, what? Soybean foam isn’t made of soybeans?!

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

 

soybeansI’ll keep this short: soybean foam is primarily made from petrochemicals, not soybeans.  

You might have also have heard of soybean foam as bio-foam, soy foam, and other names combining soy-, bio-, or eco-.

No forest green lettering, or image of pastoral fields on marketing materials, can change the truth: soy foam might contain 20% soy content but can contain as little as 3-5% depending on the product. The rest is highly flammable polyurethane foam.gasoline

If a consumer is looking for an alternative to polyurethane foam, soy foam isn’t the solution.

Sigh.

But soy foam sounds so healthy … and marketers count on it.

The initial green angle for soy foam was on using renewable plant-based resources* to supplement non-renewable petroleum. Mattress and furniture company marketers, however, soon found that marketing could intentionally lead consumers to make seemingly logical – albeit false – assumptions about what was, and wasn’t, in “soy foam”.

With the addition of green imagery and colors, the trick was complete, and the public assumed that soy foam was made from soybeans.

Seriously. Green lettering can make anything look healthier. Watch.

poison

Now look.

poison logo

 Looks healthier, friendlier and greener, doesn’t it?

Look at the labels on soy-foam products: the implication is clearly that the foam is primarily made from soybeans and is manufactured with fewer chemicals.

This is clearly false.

—————–

*You can read volumes about industrial soy crops. While out of the scope of this post, recent concerns include deforestation in Brazil for giant soybean plantations.  More than 90% of U.S. soybeans derive from GMO (genetically modified organism) crops, and as far back as 2007 more than 50% of global soybean crops were GMO.

Additionally, a story  published March 23, 2014 in The Telegraph claims “The United Nations will officially warn that growing crops to make “green” biofuel harms the environment and drives up food prices…” Environmentalists have been concerned about biofuel crops and their environmental impact for some time. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is expected to publish the actual report on March 31, 2014. Read The Telegraph’s article at http://bit.ly/1iwMv3K.

 

The Naturepedic Factory – What’s that fresh smell?

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

 

During my first visit to the Naturepedic mattress factory, something struck me.

The smell. The factory smelled fresh. As strange as this will sound, I thought it smelled … good.  

I’ve been in many factories, and good smelling is generally not a characteristic I’ve noticed.  Bakeries? They smell good.  Factories? Not so much.

Honestly, I first noticed the lack of expected smells.  Where was the combination chemical/solvent/adhesive/plastic smell I associate with factories?  Not there. 686A9951I knew in advance the entire factory was certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), but I still had an expectation of, well, a more industrial smell.  The lack of a heavy synthetic odor caught me off guard,  but in a good way.

Adding to my sense of surprise were the sounds, or, again, lack of. There was a LOT of activity, but the factory wasn’t loud.IMG_9378 All around was a beehive of productivity, with people hand-stitching at sergers, cutting organic cotton with large hand shears, and more.  Sure, there was noise, but this was the whirr of craftsmen, not giant machinery.  

The entire place is quieter than my house when my three sons are playing or arguing. It was after becoming comfortable with the lack of expected factory sounds and smells that I began to notice the subtle, underlying smell that IS there.

IMG_9456

Walking past giant rolls of super soft organic cotton, a type of earthy freshness sneaked up on me.  While not strong, cotton, like almost any agriculturally grown product, has its own smell.

More noticeable was the smell of organic wool, a healthy outdoorsy smell.  The smell of wool in bulk might surprise factory visitors born and raised in a city.  

It is simply not a city smell. Mingled with these smells is the scent of the pine wood used in the mattress framings to create an overall freshness of scent.  

 

Our organic Naturepedic life size mascot - he might not be real, but he doesn't make a mess, either

Our organic life size sheep mascot – he might not be real, but he doesn’t make a mess, either

I almost said “farm fresh”, but I grew up around farms, and they have a different type of fresh smell, particularly in regards to cows and pigs.  There was none of that fresh scent here. Walking through the Naturepedic factory, you know there is something special going on.  You can sense it.  You can see it.  You can hear it.

You can smell it.

 

Greenwashing, Mattresses and Rutabagas

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Consumers are hit with “green” claims everywhere.  An organic rutabaga, or a cup of Costa Rican coffee supporting sustainable business practices, or a “natural” face lotion, or a green … fill in the blank.

Sometimes the message is sincere.  That rutabaga may have been grown without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.

Sometimes, not.  That “natural” face lotion may be made with synthetics and chemical additives.

Sneaky Dairies. The Babcock bottle was invented in 1890 by Professor Stephen M. Babcock to measure fat content in milk after unscrupulous dairies began watering their milk down, thus making more money per gallon than honest companies providing honest products.  I wonder if they called it milk washing?

Sneaky Dairies. The Babcock bottle was invented in 1890 by Professor Stephen M. Babcock to measure fat content in milk after unscrupulous dairies began watering their milk down, thus making more money per gallon than honest companies providing honest products. I wonder if they called it milk washing?

To be organic, sustainable, green or eco-friendly in any industry (and those labels mean very, very different things to different people) takes commitment, veracity, diligence, and more commitment.  If a company isn’t committed, they may find it easier to market themselves with words to convince you they are “green” (when they really aren’t).

Greenwashing, or marketing a product as natural or green when it isn’t, is bothersome to legitimate businesses like ours.  Companies, though, have always tried to take sneaky shortcuts.

For consumers, however, greenwashing is confusing, obnoxious and frankly unfair.

We want to help you better navigate the dubious “green” and “eco” marketing waters out there.  To that end, we’re dedicating some blog posts to shine a light on greenwashing and other shadowy marketing practices.

We’ll kick it off next Tuesday with soybean foam.

Until then, here’s a link to some great recipes from Boston Organics for that organic rutabaga of yours.

http://www.bostonorganics.com/rutabagas/pr/rutabagas

rutabagas-250px