As the organic and natural sleep product category continues to grow, retailers are eager to meet the consumer demand for safer sleep environments void of flame retardants and other harsh chemicals. In addition to showcasing organic and natural products and brands in our Summer 2018 Product Focus, we’ve created a comprehensive guide to help retailers better understand the product certifications. When buying organic or natural inventory for your store, there are numerous factors to take into consideration and distinctions to look for among product options.
Organic vs. Natural
When it comes to consumer goods, the terms organic and natural are often confused as interchangeable. However, they are not. Offering a list of allowed and prohibited substances as a guide, the US Department of Agriculture has a National Organic Program that stipulates the standards that need to be met to put organic labeling on a product. While this program mostly applies to food, some sleep product materials can be USDA certified organic. More common in the bedding industry, the Global Textile Standard is the certifying body for fabrics while the Global Latex Standard is for latex.
These certifications serve to validate any claims made about a product. If a brand is marketing a specific product as ‘organic,’ at least 95% of the materials used in that product must be certified organic and cannot be processed with potentially harmful chemicals. Alternatively, a product that is marketed as ‘natural’ does not have to be backed by any certifications – though many of them do include a number of organic components. That said, natural products lacking certification are not necessarily harmful; they offer a different level of safety than a certified product – but there’s no guarantee that they provide a safer sleep than something made with synthetic components.
As organic products have become increasingly popular, more mattress and bedding manufacturers are touting eco-friendly product benefits – to varying degrees of legitimacy. By fully understanding organic certifications and natural claims, retailers can make more educated decisions about what products to stock and provide more meaningful guidance to their customers.
What To Look For
So how can you figure out what is in a mattress or other sleep product? The certifications listed below provide legitimate proof that materials within a product have been tested and determined to be free of chemicals. Certifications also often take the factory conditions into consideration, as well as the manufacturing processes involved.
USDA NOP Certifications ams.usda.gov – While there is no standard USDA organic mattress certification, materials like cotton and latex sap can be USDA organic certified. A USDA certification indicates that a material meets highly stringent standards.
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) global-standard.org – “The Global Organic Textile Standard is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibers, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.”
Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) certifications.controlunion.com – “The Global Organic Latex Standard is highly regarded, especially in the sleep products sector. GOLS outlines requirements for latex products made from organic raw materials, as well as for material from non-organic origins.”
Greenguard & Greenguard Gold greenguard.org – “GREENGUARD Certification helps manufacturers create--and helps buyers identify--interior products and materials that have low chemical emissions, improving the quality of the air in which the products are used. GREENGUARD Certification is part of UL Environment, a business unit of UL (Underwriters Laboratories).” All GREENGUARD Certified products are listed in the UL SPOT Sustainable Product Database.
CertiPUR-US certipur.us – CertiPUR-US certified foam is made without ozone depleters, PBDEs, TDCPP or TCEP (Tris) flame retardants, mercury, lead and other heavy metals, formaldehyde, phthalates regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and is low on VOC emissions.
Oeko-Tex oeko-tex.com – While there are a number of standards and certifications administered by the Oeko-Tex Association, most in this family of certifications test for harmful substances within textiles. Standard 100 certification requires all parts of an article to meet the required criteria (outer fabric, threads, accessories and more).
Though there are more product certifications in existence, the ones above are highly trusted and most prevalent in the bedding industry. When verifying the authenticity of an organic product, make sure to check the product’s site, as brands will typically include a link to their organic certification documentation. Many of the certifications also maintain databases of products bearing certifications. Doing your due diligence when researching a product on your showroom will go a long way with your customers!