With so many different types of foam mattresses now being marketed to sleepers, it’s tough to know the truth about foam. Is it healthy for you? Should you avoid foam entirely? Unfortunately, mattresses that use petroleum-based polyurethane foam are actually very dangerous for your health, but what about soybean foam?
In the mattress world, soybean foam mattresses (both crib and adult) have risen in popularity as “clean” living becomes more mainstream, marketed as a plant-based option.
However, the truth about soybean foam (also known as bio-foam, soy foam, and other names combining soy-, bio-, or -eco.) might surprise you.
In short, soybean foam is primarily made from petrochemicals, not soybeans.
No forest green lettering or image of pastoral fields on marketing materials can change the truth: soy foam might contain 20% soy content, but it can also contain as little as 3-5% depending on the product. The rest is highly flammable polyurethane foam.
If a consumer is looking for an alternative to polyurethane foam, soy foam isn’t the solution.
Marketers use certain words to give the impression that their products are healthier than they are. They count on the fact that soy foam sounds healthy. The initial green angle for soy foam was on using renewable plant-based resources* to supplement non-renewable petroleum. Mattress and furniture company marketers 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 green-washed language in addition to green imagery and colors, it’s easy to be convinced that you’re making a smarter and healthier decision for your sleep. It’s easy to assume that soy foam is made from soybeans.
Furthermore, there is no monitoring of these claims. Companies that use words like “green” and “eco-friendly” have no measure of legitimacy from any government agency or organization.
The best way forward is to make sure you’re paying attention to labels. Always keep an eye out for the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) certifications, and hold companies and marketing teams accountable for misinformation and greenwashing.
All of our products are certified to the strictest standards available, and you can read more about our certifications here.
*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.