Next up in our mattress executive interview series we’re chatting with the Founder and CEO of Plushbeds, Michael Hughes, about the company’s organic mattresses, their new re-brand, and where things are headed for the business.
Also, when you finish reading, enter to win a brand new Plushbeds Botanical Bliss 9″ mattress and two organic latex pillows!
You have a background with high end luxury brands. When you founded PlushBeds, did you feel that you could bring that same mindset to a line of high end luxury mattresses?
Absolutely. We have done all of the research to provide our customers with a high end luxury sleeping experience. We directly source the world’s finest quality organic and natural materials and our mattresses are handmade and customized for each customer. Every detail on our mattresses is highly intentional and the end result is a high-end luxury mattress of heirloom quality.
We have a firm belief in the value of a superior product and a quality shopping experience. This foundation has guided many of our decisions early on which helped PlushBeds to thrive where other companies before us have not.
There is a huge emphasis at PlushBeds on using organic materials not only in the mattress offerings, but other products as well. Where did the passion around organic materials originate from?
My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease when he was 40 years old. I watched this horrible disease rob him of everything he had, including his life, by age 64. While there is no definitive evidence as to what causes Parkinson’s Disease, epidemiologic studies suggest that exposure to certain chemicals in our environment are associated with an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
We are exposed to hundreds of chemicals in our homes each day from foods, detergents, pesticides, toxic flame retardants and many others. Toxic flame retardants are one of the most common sources of toxicity in our homes and our lives. They are used in furniture, carpeting, mattresses, etc. When you think about the fact that the average person spends one third of their lifetime sleeping on their mattress, and that most are filled with toxic flame retardants, it’s terrible. That’s a lot of time to expose your body to potentially harmful chemicals.
My wife and I did a lot of research and we eliminated as many chemicals in our home as possible. We also searched for healthy, toxin-free mattresses for ourselves and our two children. That’s when we realized how hard it was to find healthy, toxin-free mattresses. Most of the mattresses on the market were made with polyurethane foam and other unhealthy materials and they contained harmful, chemical filled fire barriers.
I remember being shocked at the results of a ground-breaking study, which showed that the levels of fire retardants found in the breast milk of mother’s in the US were higher than in any other country. I knew there was a great need for healthy, toxin-free mattresses.
We founded PlushBeds to provide our family and others with healthier sleep options. We have done all of the research and found the healthiest and the best quality materials, so that everyone can have the healthiest sleep environment. We have gone to great lengths to ensure that our mattresses are safe for your health and comfortable to sleep on. All of our mattresses are made with toxin-free materials and they are certified with GreenGuard Gold status. GreenGuard Gold is the world’s most rigorous chemical emissions standard—a certification earned by less than 1% of all mattresses. We go above and beyond to guarantee that all PlushBeds mattresses meet this standard.
Even something as trivial as many restaurants no longer offering drinking straws is showing how much we should be thinking about protecting our environment. Are you seeing the same line of thinking by consumers in the sleep space as well?
Absolutely. Today’s consumers are conscious and ethical. They realize that change is needed in the world and they want to do their part to help. They shop from conscious and ethical brands and retailers, who sell products made with organic and natural materials; sustainable materials; recyclable materials; chemical free materials; cruelty free materials, which are not tested on animals and those with a transparent supply chain. They also practice green manufacturing with minimal waste and they support fair trade.
Taking the time to do some research and become a conscious and ethical consumer, gives today’s consumers peace of mind about their purchases and their role in helping our planet and humanity.
From our understanding, you initially worked with a third party supplier to construct your mattresses, but made the decision to bring everything in house. When did that take place, and how big of a leap of faith was it to commit to your own warehouse with all of that equipment?
Immediately. We saw there was a void in the online space for luxury organic and natural mattresses and excellent service and PlushBeds was born.
Of course manufacturers have more of an undertaking than 3rd party retailers who don’t actually make the mattresses. But we proudly accepted this undertaking since it allows us to directly source the world’s finest quality organic and natural materials and sell our mattresses directly to our customers, without having to skimp on quality or raise our prices. The savings goes directly to each customer, instead of going to 3rd party retailers or storefronts.
We are the largest importer of ARPICO organic latex, in the United States. By working directly with the latex plantations, we are vertically integrated and control the complete process from the organic plantations in Sri Lanka to our customer’s bedrooms. It also allows us to offer the most consistent, highest quality, luxury latex mattress on the market.
Fire protection in mattresses are of the utmost importance for our safety. While each mattress must go through rigorous federally mandated tests, how difficult is it to have the necessary protection, while avoiding harsh and potentially hazardous chemicals?
Soft, organic wool is quilted into the organic cotton cover on our Botanical Bliss Organic Latex Mattress. The high keratin protein and moisture content of the organic wool, makes it naturally resistant to burning. Tests show organic and natural wool to be among the safest bedding materials, as it allows a latex mattress to naturally pass flammability tests without the use of chemical flame retardants.
Additional benefits of organic and natural wool:
Natural Temperature Regulation
When used in the right proportions within a mattress cover, organic and natural wool creates a micro climate, which assists in regulating body temperature and humidity. Our wool breathes more naturally than synthetic counterparts, allowing your body to get to a comfortable sleeping temperature quicker and maintain it through the night.
Hypoallergenic, Antimicrobial, Dust Mite Resistant
Organic and natural wool can absorb and dissipate up to 30% of its own weight in water without feeling wet. As humidity levels rise, the wool fibers absorb and store the moisture, keeping the humidity at your skin surface relatively low, which ensures that damp, clammy feeling will never be experienced on our latex mattresses. Organic and natural wool’s dry and absorbent nature keeps mildew and dust mites away while keeping you dry and comfortable all night.
Each of your components originate in the USA except for your latex coming in from Sri Lanka. What is it about that part of the globe that makes it such a perfect place to produce latex?
PlushBeds has partnered with ARPICO in Sri Lanka, as America’s largest importer of ARPICO premium organic latex, widely acknowledged as the world’s finest organic latex.
ARPICO is one of the oldest organic latex manufacturers in the world, and worldwide pioneers in latex foam technology. ARPICO’s famed 5.5 million organic rubber-tree plantation is certified by the Control Union-Europe’s largest organic regulator. They contain NO Fillers, NO Dyes, NO Carcinogenic Adhesives, NO Chemicals, and absolutely NO Pesticides. Just clean, pure, botanical latex, just as Mother Nature intended.
Our mattresses are not just made with a mix of ARPICO or a cheap, diluted blend, they are made with 100% solid ARPICO premium organic latex. It is a sustainable material and harvested naturally from their rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis).
ARPICO latex’s dense cell structure is uniquely resilient – allowing your mattress to provide luxurious comfort, plush cushioned support and soothing pressure relief. These benefits ensure the mattress supports the body correctly with natural buoyancy and elasticity – without being too soft or too hard.
ARPICO organic latex is also naturally hypoallergenic, mold and mildew proof. In fact, allergens, bacteria and dust mites do no thrive in ARPICO organic latex, as they do in mattresses made of other materials.
An organic latex mattress, made with latex from ARPICO’s famed 5.5 million organic rubber-tree plantation, is the healthiest mattress available. Premium quality organic latex can be the difference between years of long lasting support in your mattress, or unpleasant sagging indentations after a short period of time.
PlushBeds is presently raising money for the fight against Autism. What about that cause made the team focus on it from a philanthropic perspective?
Amanda, a mother of four beautiful children, contacted us. Her two-year-old twin boys were just diagnosed with autism and severe respiratory conditions. Out of work and with no health insurance, Amanda was at the beginning of the biggest challenge of her life.
The twins’ pediatrician recommended removing as many toxins and chemicals as possible from her home environment. He recommended toxin-free, natural mattresses, since toxic mattresses could inhibit her childrens’ progress and impair their already struggling immune and neurological systems.
Amanda reached out to us and told us her concerns about her childrens’ health in relation to the toxic, chemical filled mattresses that they were sleeping on. She revealed that she had to leave her job to care for her boys and that natural, toxin-free mattresses were out of her budget. She asked if we could help her find a solution.
We were truly inspired by Amanda. She was very brave for sharing the details of her story with us and there was a raw authenticity and determination about her. What she needed was out of her reach, but that didn’t matter. This was about the health and safety of her children. There was so much modesty and yet so much power in her words. You could tell that she was both determined and prepared to move mountains to help her children.
We knew that we had to do something special for Amanda and her family. See what happened here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYOsFhHEQWQ
PlushBeds offers a wide variety of mattress lines. For someone coming to the site only knowing that they want to sleep on a natural sleep surface, how would you suggest they find the correct PlushBeds mattress for their sleep preferences?
Here are our Organic and Natural Latex Mattresses:
Botanical Bliss Mattress is our organic latex mattress. It contains 3 to 4 layers of plush GOLS certified organic latex, a GOTS certified organic cotton cover with GOTS certified organic wool. It is also GreenGuard Gold certified for purity.
Natural Bliss Mattress is our 100% natural latex mattress. It contains 2 to 3 layers of plush Oeko-Tex Standard 100 100% natural latex, a GOTS certified cover and it is 100% wool free & animal free with our revolutionary Eco Fire Barrier™ made of hydrated silica and plant fibers. It is also GreenGuard Gold certified for purity.
Luxury Bliss Mattress is our hybrid latex mattress, made with GOLS certified organic latex and individually wrapped, motion isolating, encased coils, a GOTS certified organic cotton cover with GOTS certified organic wool. It is also GreenGuard Gold certified for purity.
Mattresses sold online often come with generous sleep trials, to ensure that the customer is satisfied with their purchase. While it alleviates some of the apprehension regarding purchasing a mattress without lying on it first, it does amount to a good amount of returns. PlushBeds obviously cares about the environment, but is there anything that the industry as a whole can do to be sure that we aren’t seeing an inordinate amount of nearly brand new mattresses end up in landfills?
In the US, approximately 20 million mattresses and box springs, are disposed of annually and that the vast majority end up in landfills or incinerators. They contribute 450 million pounds of waste and fill more than 100 million cubic feet of landfill space, every year.
The problem with mattresses in landfills: They are bulky and occupy a lot of landfill space; coils from innerspring mattresses get tangled in the equipment that is used to compact and maneuver waste in the landfills and mattresses in landfills become breeding grounds for insects, rodents and bacteria that quickly become a public health risk.
What can we do to stop this? The good news is that there are options to consider, that do not involve sending mattresses to landfills. They include the basics of environmental stewardship: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
Recycle. It is the right choice to make for the planet. The fact that landfills are overburdened by mattresses, is well documented across the country. Furthermore, recycling doesn’t only keep old mattresses out of landfills. It also creates an opportunity to give them new life, by breaking down the materials in each mattress that are reusable
What Parts of a Mattress are Recyclable? Most mattresses can be broken down into parts that are recyclable – steel springs; foam; fibers or fabric and wood. Each of these materials can be given new life through the recycling process: Melt the steel and reshape it into something useful; chip the wood for mulch or burn it for warmth and/or use foams and fibers from the mattress to cushion pet beds or to make seat cushions
How Can You Help? You can make smarter choices when purchasing your next mattress so that recycling your old mattress doesn’t become problematic for you and the environment. Choose a mattress that is 100% recyclable and biodegradable, such as an organic or natural latex mattress.
Organic and natural latex mattresses are naturally derived from hevea brasiliensis tree sap. As long as there are no toxic additives and fillers added, it is pure, natural and completely biodegradable.
Here is a list of mattress recycling companies, listed by state, within the USA and Canada. They will break down the mattress and recycle it for you:
Alternatives to Recycling: Donate your mattresses to charity or those in need of a mattress.
Donating is a great option and it keeps the mattress out of a landfill that much longer. PlushBeds is fortunate to partner with a variety of charitable, philanthropic and environmental organizations, to donate mattresses to those who are in need.
The industry has exploded to some extent over the last three years. Searching for a mattress online can become daunting for a consumer. What kind of advice could you give to a consumer to help them see through the clutter and get what is best for their needs?
As a consumer, it’s important to pay close attention to the materials used, in each layer of your mattress and to look for third party certifications for these materials. Do your due diligence research so that you get what you believe you’ve purchased, especially if you are looking for a mattress made with organic or natural materials.
Third party certifications are issued by approved, independent organizations after they have inspected the raw material and/or final product and they have independently determined that it complies with specific standards for safety, quality and performance.
At PlushBeds, we believe that educating our customers and providing full and complete transparency is important. We also take great pride in providing the best quality organic and natural mattresses which are not only outrageously comfortable, but which are truly healthy to sleep on.
It’s also important to know the difference between “ORGANIC,” “NATURAL,” “ECO-FRIENDLY,” AND “GREEN” materials in your mattress, so that you can shop with confidence and find a truly healthy option.
“Organic” Mattress Materials:
If you are looking for a latex mattress that is made with truly organic and healthy materials, it must have the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) third-party certifications.
The GOLS certification applies to organic latex and the GOTS certification applies to the organic cotton cover. These rigorous, globally recognized, third-party verified standards define and ensure that the materials and products live up to the organic definition.
GOLS and GOTS certify the entire production chain, from the USDA certified organic raw materials to the manufacturing of the final certified product. The organic materials are tracked throughout the distribution and manufacturing process, to ensure their purity.
GOLS and GOTS certifications also cover fair trade and labor practices and the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes along the way. If organic farming and pure, organic materials and production methods are important to you for health, environmental, social, or personal reasons, then look for the GOLS and GOTS organic certifications for your mattress.
A latex mattress that has both GOLS and GOTS certifications is truly the healthiest and safest latex mattress you can buy, so always look for these certifications in your latex mattress.
The materials that make up the PlushBeds Botanical Bliss Mattress have both the GOLS and GOTS certifications. They are true organic standards that you can trust.
Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) certified organic latex is latex that has been processed using only organically-grown, milky-white latex sap tapped from the rubber tree, grown without chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides and grown using one or more sustainable energy sources. PlushBeds mattress covers are made with organic cotton and organic wool that is GOTS certified. GOTS is recognized as the world’s leading processing standard for textiles made from organic fibers. It defines high-level environmental criteria, along the entire organic textiles supply chain and requires compliance with social criteria as well.
“Natural” Mattress Materials:
When you think of the word “natural,” you think of something that is pure, healthy and chemical free. This is not always the case in the mattress industry, where the word “natural” is used recklessly.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which enforces consumer protection laws, doesn’t define “natural” with regard to mattresses, so a mattress that’s advertised as “natural” could contain almost anything, including polyurethane foam, adhesives, chemical flame retardants, etc.
Some “natural” mattresses only contain a small percentage of “natural” material but the rest of the mattress contains chemical filled polyurethane foam layers, chemical filled adhesives to glue the layers together and/or chemical flame retardants.
Certain types of “natural latex” are a mix of natural latex, made from rubber tree sap and blended or synthetic latex, made from petrochemicals, mixed together. If there is natural latex in your mattress and the latex is not GOLS certified organic latex, then it is most likely either Oeko-Tex certified or Eco-Institut certified.
- In general, Oeko-Tex and Eco-Institut are safety testing certifications that test for harmful substances and VOCs, in certain materials used to make the mattress.
- Oeko-Tex and Eco-Institut certifications do not cover organic farming and production methods, fair trade and labor practices, and they do not cover the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes along the way, like GOLS and GOTS. They also do not test the complete mattress for harmful substances and VOCs, like the GreenGuard Gold certification.
“Eco-Friendly” or “Green” Mattress Materials:
Similar to “natural” mattress materials, there are “eco-friendly” or “green” mattress materials, which are also used recklessly. The FTC doesn’t define “eco-friendly” or “green” with regard to mattresses, so a mattress that’s advertised as “eco-friendly” or “green” could contain ingredients that are not healthy for you.
Did you know that “soy foam” (or eco-foam, soy-based foam, plant-based foam, green foam, etc.) is advertised as “eco-friendly” or “green,” even though it’s basically petrochemical-based polyurethane foam, typically made by pouring in a very small percentage of plant-based essential oils (as one manufacturer phrased it, “just enough to say it’s in there”). Also, most contain dangerous chemicals such as polyurethane foam, adhesives, chemical flame retardants, petroleum, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, formaldehyde, polyols, toluene diisocyanates etc.
All of these chemicals are suspected to cause central nervous system damage, cancer, kidney damage, liver damage, developmental problems, neurological deficits, heart disease, hormonal changes, reduced fertility, and many other issues.
Researching all of the materials used, in each layer of your mattress and all third-party certifications is the only way to know exactly what you’re getting, and to find a mattress that is truly best for your needs.