We have great respect for our customers who value third-party validation. As consumers, we all look for cues to help inform our buying decisions, and the internet can leave us overwhelmed. As a business, our counsel is: don't take trust marks for granted -- even the ones that Spindle displays. Marketing claims or editorial truths can be skewed, inaccurate, or not address the issues you care about. We encourage you to find the source materials -- we've listed some below -- read them and be sure the standards meet your expectations and needs. We want you to choose a mattress that's not only comfortable but one that you can feel comfortable sleeping on.
For all intents and purposes, the mattress is straight-forward and simple: organic latex, organic cotton, and organic wool. A Spindle does not contain or use polyurethane foam, synthetic latex, fiberglass, modacrylic, silica, rayon, boric acid, or any other chemical flame retardants. Our mattresses' law tag illustrates this.
Example of a Spindle Law Tag
Are all the mattresses GOTS and GOLS certified? The materials we use carry certifications, but our finished product does not. Certification is held by the manufacturers of the core materials.
Certified Organic Latex – (Latex Green CU 813274)
Certified Oeko-Tex 100 Latex – (Latex Green 20.HLK.05093)
Additional Information about materials and certifications.
This type of discussion tends to be non-linear, not as clear-cut -- especially with certifications -- and there may be some crossover from one topic to another. Moreover, it's Spindle culture to provide as much information upfront as possible. We've found it can mitigate the risk of awkward post-sale "didn't know that" moments. Your questions are not capricious. Let's get down to it and get you the answers you need to make a wise purchasing decision.
Finished product certification, though implied, does not necessarily impart higher quality than other mattresses. It depends, of course, on one's criteria for choosing a mattress. As you've prolly already found, many companies say they sell an "Organic Mattress" only to have the fine print reveal the cotton is certified and nothing else is organic or even natural.
We only use organic latex, organic cotton, and organic wool. A Spindle does not contain or use polyurethane foam, synthetic latex, fiberglass, modacrylic, silica, rayon, boric acid, or any other chemical flame retardants. The federally mandated law tag, detailing the mattress' composition, is not required or intended to list materials weighing less than 1% of the total finished mattress' weight. The following materials are not listed on our law tag and found in certified organic mattresses:
The zipper has nylon teeth, and a metal trolley and pull tab.
Polyester thread is used to stitch the organic cotton fabric and organic wool batting into a quilt even “certified” organic mattresses use polyester thread. Our guess is that thread is less than .01% the total weight of your mattress.
The mattress' seams along the tape line are sealed with a heat resistant para-aramid thread, aka Kevlar, chemically poly-para-phenylene terephthalamide. This helps prevent flames from breaching vulnerable areas and, in turn, igniting the materials inside the mattress. Even "organic" mattresses are permitted to use this thread and qualify for certification. Our guess is that thread is less than .001% the total weight of your mattress. Our mattress complies with federal fire safety laws by using natural wool as a flame barrier. This alleviates the need to add chemical fire retardants [FR] like boric acid, or formaldehyde, none of which are required to be declared.
Keep in mind that everything in any organic mattress is manmade and/or processed. The wool is the closest component to being in its natural state but that too gets washed and carded. Some of the lanolin is washed away and the fleece is not as dirty and full of detritus as when the animal was shorn. The cotton undergoes multiple processing steps on its way from field to fabric.
We're the first to admit that labeling can be confusing. There are certified Organic foams that contain fillers, e.g.: coir, graphite. There are “100%” natural latex that carry certifications from agencies other than GOLS and, while just as clean or pure [sic], are not called "organic". Latex foam is a manufactured product and the GOL Standard states that only 95% of the materials need to be "certified" organic.
Our latex carries GOLS certification. The latex we use is called “100%” natural latex, which is an industry classification. It does not contain synthetic latex, fillers, polyurethane or other petroleum-based products. The foam is manufactured in Sri Lanka.
In its raw natural state, i.e.: when it's tapped from the tree, latex is a colloid, a liquid that's not conducive to being used in a mattress. “Natural” or "Organic" refers to the source of the latex. The latex [foam] in your mattress does not exist in nature. It is a manufactured product that contains a variety of ingredients. 95% of the stuff inside your mattress comes out of a tree. The remaining 5% is comprised of materials needed to aerate [foam] and vulcanize [bake] the latex [liquid]. These processing solutions include a mixture of zinc oxide, fatty acid soaps, sulfur, and sodium that are a proprietary blend to the foam manufacturer. The vulcanized foam is washed a minimum of three times to remove residual proteins that may be left over after curing.
All "100% Natural" latex — including certified organic — is manufactured this way: 95% latex mixture + 5% binding ingredients. We believe that the latex foam we use is among the most pure natural latex available. We could lie and tell you it's "all natural" if you want us to.
You'll find more info about our materials on our website:
Our Latex-- An in-depth primer on the different types of latex
In general, terms like organic or natural should not be equated with "safe". Using cradle to cradle or carbon footprint metrics it's not unreasonable to argue that synthetic latex -- not eligible for GOLS -- is greener. In fact, using cradle to cradle or carbon footprint metrics it's not unreasonable to argue that synthetic latex -- not eligible for GOLS -- is greener and more sustainable when seen through a global warming lens. The environmental impact of tearing down old-growth forests to establish monoculture plantations? Just another example of the complexity of the conversation how it can lead to an analysis paralysis stalemate. There are many lenses we all employ...and we haven't even started talking about sustainability. In the end, we're confident that most players are trying to do their best.
We're not experts in the benefits and/or politics of standards and when we need information we go to the source. In addition to those mentioned above we also like the USDA list of allowed & prohibited substances and the FTC's views on shopping green [& their article on Bamboo]. The GOTS manual for implementation has clear definitions for achieving finished product certification -- a minimum of 70% certified organic fibres and requiring social criteria -- and allowed exceptions to the standard, including those for small operations and/or in developing countries. We found many of these documents fascinating to read, especially the standards with annotations.
We will never say our mattress is non-toxic, hypo-allergenic or safe. Those terms have no baseline. Nothing is chemical-free or 100% anything. The materials we use are commodities and very similar if not identical to those being used by others in our industry. Some manufacturers claim you'll sleep through the night or wake up pain-free. Others claim their mattresses are prescribed for specific medical conditions or are perfect for anyone from 40 to 400 lbs. Others claim their mattresses are prescribed for specific medical conditions, or are 100% safe or, even, healthy!
We have great respect for our customers who value third party validation. Our counsel is: don't take trust marks for granted -- even the ones that Spindle displays. Marketing claims or editorial truths can be skewed, inaccurate or not address the issues you care about. We encourage you to find the source materials -- we've listed some above -- read them and be sure the standards meet your expectations and needs. We want you to choose a mattress that's not only comfortable, but that you can feel comfortable sleeping on.
Third-party validation from testing agencies is complex. You may find some of the following interesting, if you're a standards geek, like us. ;-))
TheFSC standards for pesticidesare very similar to -- if not more transparent -- than the USDA standards. All of the agricultural regulations have exceptions allowing for pesticide use when more conservative IPM approaches are not practical. This article illustratesthe challenges of a global standardand why some growers, regardless of their moral compass, may opt out of attendant certifications.
The FSC standards for pesticides are very similar to -- if not more transparent -- than the USDA standards. All of the agricultural regulations have exceptions allowing for pesticide use when more conservative IPM approaches are not practical. This article illustrates the challenges of a global standard and why some growers, regardless of their moral compass, may opt out of attendant certifications.
The GMO corn conundrum with pollen illustrates the challenges of unwanted seeds on organic farms. They find their way on the air, transported by insects and deposited in scat from one area to another.
Certification does not guarantee a better product. e.g.: I'd rather eat a carrot from the farmer down the road [who can't afford certs.] than the official USDA produce at Whole Foods.
At the end of the day, I trust all of us are just trying to do the best we can. This is a LOT to chew on when all you really want to do is go to sleep, and we apologize if we've given you more info than you expected. We find that erring on the side of too much is less risky than omitting answers you really wanted. A thorough pre-sale discussion can also mitigate some of those awkward, "nobody told me" post-sale moments.