Sunday, July 17, 2011

Organic Wool? Natural Wool? What's the difference?

Organic Wool? Natural Wool? What's the difference?
While most people think organic is best, when it comes to wool the answer isn't so easy. After speaking with several wool growers and woolen mills, getting sheep certified is not a top priority for growers in a fiercely competitive industry. Because the organic bedding industry relies on the many benefits of wool for mattresses, pillows, toppers, etc., it's an important question to answer.

The Certification Process
Because sheep are "grazing" animals, it is hard to control where and what they eat. Sheep enjoy grazing outdoors on large tracks of land while they are young, but then need to be brought in from pasture later on. Most sheep feed on grasses that are free from pesticides and would be deemed organic with a simple soil test. However, when they are moved into a controlled area, the availability of "organic" feed is extremely limited and incredibly expensive. Then, of course, the growers cannot give any antibiotics or growth hormones in order to be certified. In my investigation, most growers don't use antibiotics or hormones on their flock unless it's absolutely necessary. In which case, those sheep are sick and removed from the flock. Consequently, the domestic growers are limited by the cost of certification and the cost/availability of organic feed. Some growers bring their sheep to neighboring crops and have their sheep feed on nutritious vegetation after the farmers have harvested them. Isn't this what natural farming is all about? Keeping waste to a minimum. Alas, these U.S. growers wouldn't qualify for organic status, but offer excellent wool to our industry.

Domestic Natural vs. Imported Organic
Since organic certification is so hard for our domestic growers, then where does it come from? Well, it comes from the other side of the planet - New Zealand, mostly. It begs the question, which is better - domestic natural or imported organic? Considering that New Zealand is one of the largest producers of wool - the joke is that there are more sheep than people, then it is also going to have the most organic producers as well. However, once the freshly shorn wool bats comes to America, what's the difference. Not a whole lot, actually. The de-greasing, scouring, and carding process is done in the exact same facilities to the same standards. If it is specified to be natural and chemical free, the same factories are used to finish both natural and organic. Simply the sheep have not been certified, so the wool may not be certified. Since there is no regulation for the term "natural", no claims can officially be made on it.

It's a tough call – bring raw goods from far away for the organic label or support our local growers. It's no secret that the wool business is dying in the United States; woolen mills are closing across the country. The few that are left have to downsized. What will you choose the next time you buy a wool product?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How do I know if it's organic?

With so much green washing these days it's hard to tell what's truly organic and what contains a little organic content and what's just "natural." Labeling issues continue to plague our sleep industry and it leaves consumers to do their own research and still come up short. One group that is trying to clear it up for consumers is the Specialty Sleep Association's Green Initiative. This is a new three-tier labeling program that manufacturers can adopt to give full disclosure of the ingredients in their mattresses. While this does not include and exclusively organic level, it does let consumers know that a third party has reviewed and approved the contents that the manufacturer is claiming. So for all those other manufacturers that make organic claims, consumers should look for or ask for their certificates for the organic content of the raw materials in the mattress. Can the final product be classified organic? Not at this time. There is no "organic mattress" just a mattress made with organic cotton/wool fibers. Follow the SSA's Environmental Blog by SSA Consultant Vicki Worden to hear the latest in organic labeling and demystifying the organic claims so many companies are making.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Commodities Prices are going up and up...

Cotton prices are up more than 90% over the past year! Wool and Latex have also seen substantial increases in the past year. Below are a few reasons why we are seeing these increases:
  • Floods & landslides have destroyed crops in China - the world's 3rd largest producer of cotton and Australia the world's 4th largest producer.
  • Pakistan has also had 30% of its cotton crop destroyed due to flooding.
  • India and China are seeing a surge in their middle class, so they are exporting less of their cotton goods and buying more latex for tire manufacturing
  • Inclement weather in South East Asia has reduced the production of latex thereby limiting supply.
The good news - more US farmers are planting cotton this year as prices remain high! Sticking with domestic raw goods means a lower carbon footprint and lower transportation costs.

For more information on commodities prices go the this link -

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Undress your bed...

Mother always told us to make our beds, but unmaking is a healthier option. Your mattress needs to breathe, as we secrete a pint of fluid a night when we sleep. All that wet, warm, dark nastiness is a dust mite's favorite place to live and breed.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ace Hotel and Suite Sleep

Have you heard? Fabulous Suite Sleep natural and organic mattresses are at the Ace Hotel New York, Palm Springs, and Portland. Getting a good night's sleep is important both at home and on the road. Since the primary function of a hotel is to have place to sleep while traveling, shouldn't it be the most important aspect of the room?

Stay at any one of the Ace Hotels and get 15% off of your next mattress purchase from Suite Sleep.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sacrificing Sleep

In an attempt to "do it all" women will sacrifice sleep first!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Welcome to my blog. I look forward to hearing your comments and questions regarding organic mattresses and bedding.