Visitors to Green Conscience's Saratoga storefront may have noticed the platform bed frames that our eco-friendly mattresses sit perched upon.  While not always an applicable solution for every interior space, these bed frames nevertheless have a definite appeal, and can serve as the missing link in a sustainable, healthy bedroom design.

Generally speaking, a platform bed involves a raised frame of varying height, upon which your mattress sits.  These bed frames are often made from hardwood or metal (instead of plywood or other compressed materials), which means they generally do not contain harsh toxic glues or chemicals like formaldehyde. Platform beds are manufactured in a variety of different styles, yet a common factor with this type of furnishing is the lack of a box spring for support.  Instead, the mattress sits directly on top of the platform, or is supported by a wooden latticework.

Demand for platform beds has increased over the years, due in large part to their compact nature and the storage solutions they can offer. Since they first became popular in the 1970s, manufacturers have also further developed the concept of platform beds, in response to consumer demands and needs.  There are now a wide variety of these bed frames available, which can accommodate any sense of style or budget.

Pros

  • Storage Space And Ergonomics - Platform bed frames are more compact than a traditional setup,  and the underside of the platform can also be purposed in a variety of ways.  Typically, the bed frame contains a set of drawers or a hidden storage area, allowing for the space underneath the bed to be utilized discretely.  Certain models may also contain fold-out platforms, or integrated nightstands, thereby negating the need for separate, free-standing units.  For this reason, these bed frames are often popular in situations where space is a concern, as in apartments.
  • Comfort and Durability - Often made from solid wood, platform bed frames are strong and durable, standing up well to heavy use over time.  As there are no springs, they are noiseless, and provide a firm surface to support your mattress. This is largely a case of personal taste of course, and side-sleepers may find their mattress too stiff on a platform, but others will likely find it preferable.
  • Style - As Interiorholic points out in their post on the subject, platform beds can often be used as the focal point of a room, and their popularity assures that they come in a variety of styles.  While platform beds can sometimes be designed to resemble traditional box-spring arrangements, others are built with a sense of flow and ergonomics at the forefront, allowing for a sleek, post-modern effect.  Still others integrate reclaimed wood, giving those beds a distinct, earthy style in keeping with the ethic of sustainability.
  • Low To Non-Existent Chemical Content - As is so often the case with mass produced goods or furnishings, some economy beds and nightstands are made from pressboard or plywood, which contain VOCs and other caustic chemicals (like formaldehyde), often in the form of glue. As we have documented before on this blog, these chemicals can off-gas, slowly leaching into the interior of your home.  The long term effects of exposure to these compounds has been carefully studied, and linked to a vast array of negative health effects.  Well made platform bed frames are often constructed from solid hardwood, meaning that they largely avoid the use of chemical-laden adhesives.  When combined with one of the all-natural latex, cotton, or wool mattresses also sold by Green Conscience, exposure can be drastically reduced, a fact that takes on great importance when you realize that you spend as much as a third of your life sleeping.
Cons

  • Height - Platform beds come in a variety of different styles, but because of the lack of box springs, many of them are lower to the floor than their traditional counterparts.  For this reason, while a platform frame may be easier for a child, it could also be more difficult to use for an elderly person, or someone suffering from a disability that affects their mobility.
  • Firmness - The feel of a platform bed depends in many ways on the quality and selection of the accompanying mattress, but one thinner than eight inches can often be too firm. As we previously mentioned, this can present an issue for side-sleepers, who may experience soreness and poor circulation.  These issues can be highly subjective, however, and comfort is a decidedly individual concern.
  • Mobility - Platform frames are often heavy and difficult to move should you need to do so for cleaning purposes.  On a carpet, they can potentially pull fibers, and on a hardwood floor, the frame could leave scratches.  If you don't move furniture often, however, this may not present an issue.
When it comes to bedding, there is no single solution that works for everyone.  Platform bed frames represent an innovative and stylish subset of the market, which could potentially be exactly what you're looking for.

For more information on creating a healthy bedroom, stop by Green Conscience in Saratoga Springs, or check out our handy guide at the link below.

[Images via Savvy Rest]


 
 
Soft vinyl or plastic mattress covers and protectors are sold everywhere, for every size of mattress—and you don’t want one. Here’s why.

They contain phthalates, a class of chemicals used to soften plastics and make them flexible. Today’s textile manufacturers can make vinyls and other plastics look and feel remarkably like fabrics by adding the right mix of chemicals, including phthalates. But the convenience of this kind of mattress protection isn’t worth its cost to your health.

Phthalates raise the risk of cancer, reproductive disorders and developmental issues. They’ve been implicated as one cause of asthma and allergies. And they’re also believed to be endocrine disruptors, according to the National Institutes of Health. That means as they off-gas or degrade into your home environment, they alter your body’s delicate natural balance of hormones. This leaves you more vulnerable to a variety of diseases over the long term.

Rubber duckies

Phthalates are risky for anyone, but this danger is especially troubling because plastic and vinyl covers or protectors are used on most crib and toddler mattresses, to which children are directly exposed to for 10 to 12 hours per day.

Because of their small size, rapid growth, and the much greater volume of air they breathe, infants and young children are much more vulnerable to the effects of household chemicals than adults are. And the earlier they’re exposed, the more years they have ahead to develop health problems.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission has outlawed the use of phthalates in infant pacifiers, soft rattles and teethers. Unfortunately, however, they’re still prevalent in most soft plastic toys and many other household items—including mattresses.

Heating up the risk

A new worry is that chemical researchers have recently discovered that higher temperatures increase the emissions of phthalates from vinyl mattress covers. Although the study focused on crib mattresses, it's smart to assume that the same would be true for any mattress—child’s or adult’s—with this type of cover.

In hot weather or in non-air-conditioned spaces, these emissions can soar well above a common (and unhealthful) level of indoor air pollution to very unsafe levels, the researchers say. A phthalate-infused casing or cover may be convenient or cheap, but there’s much more than convenience at stake.

Better choices

If you need a moisture pad for a baby’s crib, this natural wool crib mattress pad is the best way to go. Although it’s not absolutely moisture-proof in the way plastics and vinyls are, when a wool textile is correctly woven for this purpose, moisture will bead up on its surface and not sink through. (You’d have to ignore a puddle for a very long time before it could; in normal circumstances a damp pad would have long since been changed or cleaned.)

The pad is as soft as a favorite blanket and more importantly, it’s phthalate free. Bear in mind that you can avoid other unwelcome chemicals in your baby’s bed by choosing a natural crib mattress such as the Savvy Baby.

For older children’s and adult’s beds also, natural wool mattress pads make great protectors. Wool is breathable, which adds to the comfort of any bed. Some people leave wool pads in place to protect mattresses from dust or damp, and top them with machine-washable organic cotton pads for regular laundering. Others choose either the wool or cotton pad alone. Some shrinkage must be expected if wool pads are machine washed, but with most machines, it's not enough to compromise the pad's function or comfort. (Most people don’t sleep on the outer inch or two of a mattress.) Still, take note of product care instructions before making your choice.

Even without kids in the house, a sloshed cup of coffee or aging pet on the bed might at some point mean an unfortunate accident. But when there’s little risk of moisture, an organic cotton pad could be all you’ll need.

You can sleep comfortably and protect your mattress investment—without exposure to phthalates.

[This Guest Blog appears courtesy of our friends at Savvy Rest, and was originally published by Laura on August 21, 2015]

[Image by Pat David via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0]




 
 
As consumers become increasingly aware of sustainable technologies, a variety of new, innovative building materials have been developed to fulfill the needs of eco-conscious homeowners.  In many cases, this shift toward sustainable methodology is driving the advancement of new technologies, while antiquated materials are being adapted for newer, forward looking applications.

Brick buildings have existed for far longer than many people know, having their origins in the Middle East around 7500 BC. Though the earliest bricks were simply dried from clay-bearing earth, around 2900 BC ceramic, fired bricks were developed in the Indus Valley. Their use has continued right into the present day, with many of the 19th and 20th century homes that constitute Saratoga Springs and similar American communities using brick as their primary building material.

With the multitude of advantages that brick can offer, it is no surprise that it would find a place among sustainable builders. An essentially ancient technology, however, would leave most observers assuming that little room for improvement exists, a contention challenged by Titan Brick Inc.  This company has developed a new proprietary method of creating sustainable bricks that are composed of 90% dirt (by far the most plentiful and ubiquitous building material on the face of the planet). Their website notes the variety of advantages presented by utilizing bricks to construct the exterior and interior walls of a building, which apply not only to sustainability, but also cost-effectiveness, strength, and long-term maintenance.

Titan bricks are built to interlock, and though they aren't fired (which saves dramatically on energy costs associated with their manufacture), they are nevertheless far stronger than conventional building materials like wood or concrete.  These bricks have been proven to resist F4 tornadoes and force 5 hurricane-strength winds, making them two and a half times stronger than concrete.

They have also proven to be more cost effective than traditional building materials, as the entire building process becomes far more integrated and streamlined. Plumbing and heating elements are installed in a Titan Brick wall as it is built, unifying processes that used to be distinct facets of construction. Interior wall finishing is also accomplished by way of spray guns, eliminating the need for heavy drywall, which can facilitate the growth of mold and mildew.

In addition to the obvious health benefits inherent in the system, Titan Brick posits that their product can reduce construction time on a new building by up to two weeks.  Combined with lowered material costs and energy efficiency benefits, this system can achieve considerable savings over time for the average homeowner.  The bricks constitute an integrated thermal mass, and when combined with an R-20 heat resistant coating, they could potentially lower home heating and cooling costs by 50-60%, while simultaneously resulting in a highly sound-resistant wall structure. Titan Bricks have, in many ways, reinvented the core concept of the brick, taking it from the realm of antiquated substrate to innovative building material.

For all of their potential benefits, Titan Bricks are hardly the only innovative building material making inroads on the home construction market. An extremely unusual technique called shou-sugi-ban has recently gained traction among Western homeowners, though it has long existed in Japan. The name translates directly as "the burning of Japanese cypress (sugi)," and the technique involves the charring of exterior wood siding.  Though skeptics may at first raise their eyebrows at burning wooden siding before it is applied to a building, the technique produces a layer of carbon that renders the material nearly maintenance free. Wood that has been treated in this manner becomes resistant not only to pests, but also to fire and weather damage. Standing up far better to rot, carbonized siding has a life expectancy of nearly 80 years, making it a long-term investment in the construction of a new home.
Nearly any kind of wood can be carbonized, creating not only a strong and highly sustainable siding, but also an aesthetically pleasing finish. Charred softwood will highlight the prominent growth rings that adorn its surface, while hardwood will exhibit a much more even, measured pattern. In either case, the wood is washed and dried after burning, and can be finished with oil to highlight the various tones of color that arise from the process. Carbonized siding can also be left unfinished if so desired.
Innovative building materials are not strictly limited to exterior or structural applications. A variety of interior finishing products have arisen in recent years to fill the increasing demands of the sustainability community, and few are more exciting than marmoleum tile. Though often confused for vinyl by consumers, marmoleum is actually a highly renewable flooring that can be used both in new construction and in renovation projects.  Fashioned from a blend of limestone, wood flour, rosin, jute and linseed oil, marmoleum tiles are fully biodegradable after 25 to 40 years of usage. The flooring can be manufactured as a single sheet, click-together tiles, or as a glued down system, and these various options can employ either a cork backing (in the case of click-together) or polyester (in the case of glued-down tiles).

Marmoleum exhibits a range of benefits that sustainability-minded consumers are sure to appreciate, including a natural hypo-allergenic quality that makes it bacterio-static. Micro-organisms have a hard time thriving on marmoleum, and its natural anti-static state prevents dust and other allergens from adhering to it and collecting on a floor.

These three examples constitute just a few of the innovative building materials that consumers are increasingly employing as they learn of the benefits of a sustainable, eco-conscious home. Green building is currently exhibiting exponential growth, with the top 10 U.S. builders doubling their revenue between 2010 and 2012, and with the advent of tax incentives and the mainstreaming of green culture, consumers can be assured that there will be far more to choose from on the horizon. For information on these and other innovative building materials, contact Green Conscience today.


 
 
The new year brings change to us all, and here at Green Conscience, we're expanding our product lines in anticipation of an awesome 2016. As our customers already know, we're proud to work in partnership with Savvy Rest, a company devoted to producing chemical-free mattresses and furniture. Now, Green Conscience is taking this partnership a step further, as we feature Savvy Sofas.

We've written at length here about why Savvy Rest's products are superior.  As they point out on their own blog, traditionally manufactured furniture is most often constructed from synthetic fabrics and petroleum-based foams. While these materials can be harmful in their own right, they are often treated with chemical flame retardants which off-gas in your home. These chemicals have been linked to infertility, cancer, and obesity. As the foam in your mattress or sofa breaks down, a fine dust can carry these dangerous chemicals directly into your lungs.

Luckily, Savvy Sofas are constructed with these dangers in mind (just like their mattresses). These organic sofas are made using natural hardwoods, organic fabrics, and Talalay latex foam. A variety of color and fabric options are available to suit a wide range of tastes, yet all Savvy Sofas are free of chemical flame retardants.  Importantly, these sofas also do not contain any of the component parts of traditional sofas that may off-gas chemical content, like formaldehyde glue, polypropylene, plywood press board, or veneer.
These sofas are customizable, and cushions can be ordered in both softer and firmer options. The Talalay latex used by Savvy Rest is cradle-to-cradle certified, while the adhesives used are GreenGuard certified. Organic wool, hemp, and cotton is used along with certified sustainable maple. For wood finishing, zero-VOC linseed oil and low-VOC water-based stains are also used.

Savvy Sofas are just the latest product that Green Conscience is proud to feature from Savvy Rest.  Stop in the store today to check one out, and while you're there don't forget to take a look at a Savvy mattress or dog bed

From everyone at Green Conscience, thanks for an awesome 2015, and have a Happy New Year!

[Images via Savvy Rest]

 
 
Residents in the Northeast have had their fill of winter this year, and the imminent return of the "Siberian Express" will no doubt lead to a few more of the ice dams that seem to be ubiquitous here in Saratoga.  Removing ice dams can be a tricky business, particularly because some of the products you would choose to control ice elsewhere are unsuited for your roof, but can be essential for preventing damage to your home or business.

Simply put, an ice dam is a large "hump" of ice that forms on the edges of a roof under certain winter conditions. When the roof over your attic or another room gets warm enough to melt the underside of the layer of snow that accumulates there, the water follows the slope down to the eaves of your home.  This part of your roof remains cold, as it overhangs the wall, and once there the water refreezes, growing slowly into a mound of ice. Lower roof pitches and gutters can both help ice dams to form, as they make it easier for the foundational layer of ice to accumulate.

While these ice dams may seem innocuous at first, they can lead to serious damage on the inside of your home.  Melted water can back up behind the ice dam, finding its way under shingles and eventually through the sheathing and insulation below. Once it seeps through these layers and makes its way to interior walls and ceilings, it can ruin drywall and paint, causing a major amount of costly damage.

Preventing or removing ice dams can be a challenge. Physically removing them may harm the eaves and gutters of your home, while many of the chemicals and salts marketed for ice removal on driveways and sidewalks are too caustic to be used on a roof, often doing far more damage than the ice itself, and ruining  expensive shingles.

There are several products on the market, however, that are designed specifically to prevent and remove ice dams on rooflines, including Hot Roxx, an all-natural deicer. Sustainably based on natural sugars, the product is less caustic than rainwater, functioning at lower temperatures than rock salt. Since they are engineered from natural sources, these products are also safe to use around children and pets, always a primary concern for those who share their homes with loved ones.

Often, you may only notice the problem of an ice dam when its effects become apparent inside, after the damage has already been done. If this is the situation you find yourself in this year, the damage may be a blessing in disguise, providing you with the perfect opportunity to upgrade your home's interior to a healthier and more eco-friendly standard.

Often, the paint that is used to cover drywall in your home can off-gas a variety of toxins, filling the interior atmosphere of your home with harmful fumes. Upgrading your wall covering to a natural plaster like American Clay can help drastically, not only by removing a potential source of toxins, but also by introducing several benefits endemic to clay.  This natural plaster can help balance the humidity and temperature within your home, mitigating drastic changes in seasonal effects. It can also balance the ionic character of your home, absorbing and negating many of the harmful effects of positively charged ions, which are commonly emitted by electronic devices and have been shown to have measurably negative health consequences for humans and pets alike.

If clay plaster isn't to your liking, another option would be to install a living air greenwall while repairing damaged drywall.  Though doing so may be more expensive, the timing would be perfect, as the removal of old, damaged drywall would allow for the installation of aerogation pipes that feed water to the greenwall. Installing the modular system would allow you to reap a host of benefits, ranging from increased air purity to the aesthetic beauty of a constantly changing, living plant system.

Removing ice dams can feel like one more headache that you simply don't need in winter months.  With the right approach, however, the process can become not only easy and painless, but a rare opportunity to make drastic improvements to your home.

[Image by Dmcroof via Wikimedia Commons | Resized | CC BY-SA 3.0]


 
 
Phthalates are an insidious group of chemicals that pose very real heath risks for most people, yet they are almost impossible to avoid in modern society.  Armed with a little knowledge, however, you can increase your odds of avoiding these chemicals, boosting your chances of living a healthy life.

For the last several years, phthalates have been making an impression on the public consciousness, as people become more aware of their pervasive use in all corners of society.  These chemicals are used to make plastics flexible, as well as to preserve fragrances and help lotions penetrate the skin. Found in everything from cosmetics to toys (along with electronics and a wide array of household products), phthalates are utilized in so many places that avoiding them can begin to feel like an ongoing exercise in futility.

Roughly a billion pounds of these chemicals are created and utilized each year, as the Huffington Post points out.  Frighteningly, 95 percent of people have measurable levels of phthalates in their urine, as they are easily absorbed by the human body.  These chemicals can be unknowingly ingested and inhaled, or even absorbed through the skin when used in cosmetics.  In just one example of how pervasive they are in our civilization, phthalates are often found in dairy products, as they can leech into raw milk from plastic tubing.  Some of these chemicals can be easily absorbed by fat, so they are also ubiquitous in meats and cheeses (though it isn't entirely clear what the original vector of contamination is), and you can even find them in fruits and vegetables, where they are deposited by pesticides.
Knowing that we are all regularly exposed to phthalates can be terrifying in its own right, but the concept becomes even more frightening when the full range of effects associated with them is understood.  These chemicals are part of a broader group known as endocrine disruptors, responsible for literally mimicking and disrupting the human body's hormones. As a Frontline special explained, these chemicals are directly interfering with the body's ability to transmit messages from the brain.

"Hormones are chemical messengers that travel throughout the body coordinating complex processes like growth, metabolism, and fertility. They can influence the function of the immune system, and even alter behavior...In response to a signal from the brain, hormones are secreted directly into the blood by the glands that produce and store them. These glands make up what is known as the endocrine system. Chemicals that interfere with the function of hormones are therefore known as endocrine disruptors."

Many people are exposed to these chemicals literally from the time they are in the womb, and they have been shown to have a wide range of negative effects.  Birth defects have been linked to phthalates (which can be passed across the placenta in utero), as have reproductive issues. Premature or abnormal sexual development, along with insulin resistance, have also been linked to them.

While the situation appears to be admittedly bleak, there are steps you can take to mitigate your future exposure to phthalates. First and foremost, avoid plastics as much as possible (though that is admittedly not easy).

  • Invest in a water filter - carbon filters can cut down on phthalates, which make their way into drinking water either through the treatment process or from pipes.
  • Eat organic produce, meat, and milk - Certified organic produce doesn't make use of the pesticides and sewage sludge that traditionally provide a vector for chemicals to impact agriculture.
  • Seek out proper plastics - Recycling codes 3, 6 and 7 are more likely to contain these chemicals
  • Avoid fragrances whenever possible - New car smell? Phthalates. As are many perfumes and air fresheners. Avoid anything with synthetic fragrance, and seek out products that use natural essential oils instead.
  • Vote with your dollars - We've talked about investing in green companies before on the Green Conscience blog, but in the case of phthalates and other chemicals, money makes a difference.  Some manufacturers have taken their own initiative to remove these chemicals from their products.  If you are so inclined, make sure your business goes to them (and not their competitors) and you'll naturally be pressing for the changes you want to see in the world.
Phthalates and their ilk potentially represent one of the gravest challenges of the modern industrial world. Unfortunately, it may be almost impossible for most of us to avoid them fully, but with a little extra care in your choices as a consumer, you can banish the majority of phthalates from your everyday life, and make a meaningful change in your health.

[Images: Dsw4 - Own Work via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 3.0

               Zitona via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0 ]


 
 
A wide variety of sustainable flooring options exist in today's market, and consumers are finding themselves increasingly attracted to both the aesthetic and health benefits offered by them. With the high degree of attention recently afforded to reports that Chinese-manufactured laminate flooring may potentially contain levels of toxic formaldehyde that can be dangerous in enclosed spaces, homeowners are wondering not only what their alternatives are, but also how chemicals and volatile organic compounds in engineered products could represent an unseen danger.
Earlier this month, CBS' 60 Minutes made waves in the building world when they ran an exposé of Lumber Liquidators, alleging that Chinese-made flooring sold by the retailer was non-compliant with California state standards for chemical content. Budget-range flooring often contains a press-board center, and it is in the glue used to hold that material together that formaldehyde can be found.  Though the veneer which covers the flooring can keep some of the chemicals contained, over time, many of the toxic compounds can leak out, potentially "off-gassing" into the air. Other chemicals, like benzene, can also be found in the flooring, and it can often take years for the harmful substances to fully dissipate, as they release into the atmosphere of your home.

These issues are not completely endemic to low-cost hardwood flooring.  Carpeting is notorious for harboring similar compounds, most notably in the form of fire-proofing treatments. Unlike flooring, carpet can also trap and harbor toxic lawn chemicals, some of which have recently been reported to be carcinogenic. Formaldehyde and benzene are also known cancer causing agents, meaning their presence in a home, even in small amounts, represent the potential for dramatically hazardous long-term effects.

Exposure to these chemicals can cause headaches, nausea, and loss of appetite in the short term, as well as irritability and abdominal pain. Over long periods of time, negative effects can be detected in the reproductive system, the liver and the kidneys. Exposure to formaldehyde can also cause breathing issues and pain around the eyes, nose, and throat, though reactions vary in relation to differing sensitivities.

In the late 1970s, the term "Sick Building Syndrome" was coined to describe the cumulative negative health effects of indoor chemical exposure, though the causes were poorly understood at the time. In 1976, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was passed at the federal level as an attempt to regulate and manage exposure and use of a variety of chemicals, though over 62,000 substances were grandfathered in, considered safe. In addition, the EPA only tested chemicals that were imported in large quantities, which presented an "unreasonable risk" to public health.  These ill-defined standards have allowed many chemical manufacturers to fall through gaps in the policies.


It is fairly easy to establish that interior finishing materials manufactured with chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene are harmful to public health, as we've previously discussed here on the green blog. Many people, however, are not only unaware of the hidden dangers posed by these chemicals, but also of the other options available to replace them. A variety of sustainable flooring alternatives are currently on the market, and they are gaining popularity as the harmful effects of chemicals become more widely known.

We've previously noted the many benefits of wool carpeting, a sustainable option that is attractive for its hypo-allergenic qualities as well as the eco-friendly way in which it is harvested.  Wool can be cost prohibitive for many homeowners, however, and some will just simply prefer a hardwood option underfoot. Fortunately for those individuals, cork flooring can provide another, equally attractive option.  In much the same manner as wool, cork is harvested in a renewable fashion, leaving the tree from which it is taken still alive and growing.

Reclaimed lumber, while at times limited by available stock, can be used to fashion an utterly unique floor, often boasting a complete lack of chemical compounds.  In cases where chemicals may have been previously used, they have often already off-gassed from reclaimed lumber, leaving behind a far healthier alternative. Strand woven bamboo continues to be a popular option as well, both for its aesthetic beauty and the solidity of its construction, which leaves it resistant to warping or scratching. Marmoleum tiles, which represent a natural alternative to linoleum, are also constructed without the use of VOCs or harmful chemicals.

While not every engineered flooring features harmful levels of chemical compounds, consumers are always wise to investigate manufacturing processes and companies before they buy. Though cost is often a determining factor, the wide range of available sustainable flooring options means that an excellent fit for any home or budget can often be found.

[Images: Materials and Sources, Aritmiya, Home Style Choices, and Ojibwa Building Supplies MN]
 
 
The holiday season is upon us, and you may have noticed an uptick in car commercials offering seasonal financing deals. If you're like us here at Green Conscience, however, you probably have one question on your mind:

Who's buying all of these cars?

That question got us thinking that if you'd finance a car, why wouldn't you do the same for an organic, chemical-free bed?  We've talked a lot on the green blog about the negative health effects of flame retardant chemicals found in other bedding, as well as how they can off-gas, potentially polluting the interior of your home.

That also made us think.

Most people keep their cars for an average of six to ten years, according to CNBC. In contrast, most consumers hold on to their beds for between ten and fifteen years, and Savvy Rest Mattresses last for 20 years, as Bed Times pointed out in a comprehensive report on the subject.

Granted, wool and latex mattresses can generally be more expensive than those made with traditional manufacturing processes. They are, however, much, much cheaper than most financed automobiles.  They also have a far greater impact on your overall health, due to one major factor: the amount of time you're exposed to them.

You spend roughly one third of your adult life sleeping.  Given that amount of time in contact with your mattress, what your bed is made of matters. Again, by contrast, you spend much more time sleeping than driving (in most cases... and if not, get some shut eye!).

So this brought us full circle, back to our inevitable question.  If you're willing to finance a car, why not think about financing an organic, chemical free mattress?

With that idea in mind, Green Conscience is offering a unique deal for the next few weeks.  Until January 14th, customers can enjoy 60 month, 0% financing through Wells Fargo on our stock of organic mattresses. This includes models by Savvy Rest, a company we've profiled here on the blog before.

If you're interested in taking advantage of this deal, stop by our showroom and see Karen. While you're there, consider how well a platform bed frame or a buckwheat pillow would complement the bed you've had your eye on.
Whatever you do, sleep tight, and have a happy holiday season, from everyone at Green Conscience.

[Images: Savvy Rest

              Arpico Latx Foams via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and Resized | CC BY-SA 4.0]



 
 
Homeowners are accustomed to giving serious thought to the products they purchase for themselves, particularly when it comes to expensive or everyday use items like mattresses, yet they often don't think twice when buying for their dog or other pets. If you've ever wondered whether it matters what products you buy for the canine or feline member of your family, you may be shocked to learn that your decisions have a far greater impact on your pet's life than most people ever imagine.
As our canine companions settle down to rest near the closest human (or this time of year, in the first sunbeam they can spot), they might be after peaceful sleep, yet they are vulnerable to the same environmental factors as we, their owners. Emerging research is pointing to conclusions that are in many ways no surprise, revealing that our pets are exposed to far more of the same harmful compounds as we are on a daily basis, with dramatic effects. Canine cancer is on the rise, and though the causes have been studied much less than those in humans, evidence suggests that the same hazardous chemicals and environmental stimuli that increase human cancer risks lead to the same effects in our pets.

Canines that reside with smokers, for example, are far more likely to suffer from nasal or lung tumors. Pesticides used on your lawn or garden can cause lymphomas in dogs, largely because our pets not only fail to understand their exposure, but also because they are so much closer to the source than we are. For these reasons, dogs are routinely exposed to much higher levels of common household chemicals than their owners. Dust that proliferates in your home can absorb whatever chemicals are released by cleaning agents and furniture (think flame retardants), which often exhibit carcinogenic and hormone-altering effects. Regular micro-exposures to these toxins can create serious health risks in people over the long term, and your dog is no less vulnerable than you.

Pet beds are, in many ways, even more dangerous than the chemical-laden mattresses sold for humans, as their construction is subjected to far less stringent safety standards. The health-detrimental fire prevention treatments and synthetic fabrics that make up the most affordable (but often most harmful) products in our homes are usually represented to the fullest in economically constructed pet beds, subjecting our dogs and cats to risks that most never consider.

So what is a pet owner to do in the face of such unexpected threats to our canine companions? Here on the Green Blog, we've recently profiled Savvy Rest, a mattress company committed to manufacturing and marketing bedding that is far healthier than most widely-available brands, foregoing chemical-laden synthetic construction for natural latex, wool and cotton.  Sustainably harvested in a cruelty-free fashion, these materials display a number of innate benefits, not least of which is the natural fire-resistant nature of wool, which negates the need for flame-retardant chemicals. 

Just as the dangerous effects of some bedding can impact pets as much as humans, so too can the beneficial aspects of a natural mattress. With that in mind, Savvy Rest produces the Savvy Doggy bed and Savvy Kitty cat bed, fashioned from the same materials as their human-specific lines. The beds are comprised of natural latex foam, organic cotton, and a zipper, with none of the harmful chemical treatments that could potentially impact the quality of your pet's life, subjecting them to crippling and in many cases preventable health problems.

To many of us, our dogs and cats are no different than any other family member.  The next time you set out to choose a product for your pet, remember that the same factors that you consider for yourself can have a far greater impact on one of your most loyal friends, who depends on you as their protector. With careful consideration and research, you can rest assured that the next time your dog begins to wag their tail as they sleep, their dreams are more peaceful (and fun) than you can even imagine.

 
 
When purchasing a mattress or bedding, your first instinct may be to seek out something extremely soft, with an eye toward comfort.  The idea that a soft and yielding surface will facilitate a comfortable night's rest can be misleading however, and research conducted in recent years is now showing that there are demonstrable benefits to sleeping on a harder, more firm mattress.  This seemingly simple change can impact your life in dramatic ways, paying dividends in the way you feel during your waking hours for years to come.

Most of us would immediately fall in love with a soft, cushony mattress the first time we tried it out, yet somewhat counter-intuitively, this kind of bedding can sometimes have a negative impact on your health.  The reasons why can be fairly straightforward, though we may not at first consider them. As the Sit n' Sleep Blog points out, firmer mattresses can often be more comfortable simply because they offer more support. This can have a dramatic impact on your ability to rest and rejuvenate fully over the course of an eight-hour-long sleep session, particularly for older individuals.
A maxim exists which states that "you can never have too much support, but you can always have too little," and there is often a great deal of truth behind this seemingly simple statement. Firmer surfaces offer the body more rigid support, allowing you to achieve a better rest.  Softer surfaces, while they may initially feel more comfortable, fail to provide this, and in turn force the human body to continuously compensate for unusual positions.  Over the course of an eight hour night, this constant search for support can negatively impact your sleep cycle, stealing away your ability to properly regenerate.
Support for the lower back and spine, along with proper weight distribution, is key when choosing a mattress. A sagging mattress which doesn't properly distribute an individual's weight will eventually cause the body to turn in awkward directions while sleeping, effectively making it impossible to achieve a proper posture when resting.  This lack of posture can leave the back and spine in an improper alignment, which will inevitably have a direct impact on your ability to function during daylight hours.

We've extensively covered the need to achieve a proper night's rest here on the Green Blog.  Whether it's off-gassing from a chemically treated mattress or a negative micro-climate caused by ineffective bedding, anything that interferes with your body's ability to adequately rest for a set period of time will eventually wear down your overall health and well-being. Our bodies require a great deal of rest and rejuvenation, which is often hard to come by in modern society. Skimping on sleep or resting on bedding that directly impedes our ability to regenerate can have dramatic impacts both on our appearance and health, leading to measurable changes in happiness, attitude, and general outlook. How much we sleep, and exactly how we rest, is directly tied to our ability to function.

Proper posture matters when it comes to overall health, and this fact is true not only during waking hours, but also during our sleep cycle. Firm mattresses help promote this by keeping the spine in a positive alignment. Your body can never truly be at rest if it is constantly fighting for support, and an eight hour period where your backbone is out of alignment can leave you both tired and sore for the next day. Stiffer mattresses help to prevent lower back strain problems, and they also alleviate certain pressure points through adequate alignment.  This leaves you less apt to suffer from scoliosis and even bedsores.  These problems regularly afflict individuals with low mobility or who are confined to beds, and can at times largely be combated through changes in bedding.

Changing over to a harder mattress will likely be difficult if you've slept on a softer surface for years.  You can expect some initial discomfort while getting used to your new paradigm, but the long term benefits will eventually assert themselves. In addition, people with already extant issues like rheumatism, scoliosis, arthritis or weak capillaries may want to shy away from excessively hard mattresses, and instead opt for spot-specific support, as BeWellBuzz points out.  This kind of reinforcement can be achieved with specially designed pillows, like those made from flax seed and other organic materials.

Proper support is absolutely essential when seeking a full night's rest. Through choosing a firm mattress at the outset, consumers can often tilt the balance in their favor, reaping the health benefits of their decision for years to come.

[Images: Aweisenfels - Own Work via Wikimedia Commons | Resized | CC BY-SA 4.0

              Mikael Häggström via Wikimedia Commons | CCO 1.0 ]