Last Saturday I was heading home from the library when I received a phone call from a good friend. She needs to buy a couple twin mattresses and wanted to receive my opinion on the options. I told her she could buy a conventional mattress and then top it off with a vinyl-free waterproof mattress pad like these from Naturepedic or a wool puddle pad from EcoBaby. She was shocked at my answer so I added, “It’s my understanding that manufacturers only use polyurethane foam in baby mattresses…” Um, no. She had heard otherwise. And then I realized that since no conventional mattress would be made with wool (which is naturally fire retardant), they would all be doused with chemical fire-retardants. Hmmm…
Before long I was pulling up the sheets on my daughter’s twin mattress, which we purchased 3 years ago from a local mattress store. The tag confessed that the mattress was 23% polyurethane foam. Nooooooo! Then I was tearing away at my son’s twin mattress, which is a hand-me-down from my childhood. It’s topped off with a nice, fluffy layer of polyurethane foam. OK, but surely not the queen-sized mattress my husband and I bought just 2 years ago when our hand-me-down got too lumpy? In my denial I hoped that they make adult mattresses of better materials. Sadly, the tag revealed more of the same. Why not top off an innerspring mattress with some polyurethane padding? All the better to release it’s toxins into the air, right?
Frustration. Do you know what twin and queen-sized organic mattresses cost? I know, because we sell them. Unfortunately, we didn’t start selling them until after all of these purchases. But, really, I had it in my head that adult mattresses were foam-free. Don’t know where that thought came from. It’s besides the point, anyways, since chemical fire retardants are known endocrine disruptors. I’m sure all our mattresses are permeated with the stuff. Can’t feel good about that.
My husband just shakes his head at the thought of our being able to replace all three mattresses on our current budget. I was thinking, “Well surely we should start somewhere. Let’s replace my 2-year-old’s mattress first and then Aria’s and then ours, someday… in the distant future.” This week I’ve been thinking about the whole situation. I hate finding out that things we’ve been living with and using for years are toxic. How annoying. It feels so irresponsible. Soooo frustrating.
Well, it gets worse. We’re having a special visit from some in-laws next week. It inspired me to borrow my mom’s carpet cleaner to clean our couches. I use straight vinegar as the cleaning agent, instead of the commercial mix which includes who-knows-what chemicals. So, there I am removing cushions last night and what do I find? Oh, just that our couches are filled with straight polyurethane foam. That’s right, and I’ve heard reports about couches being some of the biggest sources of chemical fire retardants in the home. Ahhhhh!!!!!
This post is not about answers. It’s not about information. It’s just about frustration. I know how it feels to discover that you’ve been feeding your child with BPA-ridden bottles, sippy cups and storage containers. I know how it feels to discover that your cleaning products may do more bad than good. I know how it feels to realize you need to replace your child’s crib mattress, changing table pad and mattress pad protector (and it’s your last baby and he’s already 1 year old). And, now, now, I know how it feels to wish you could replace 2 twin mattresses, 1 queen mattress, 2 couches and 2 armchairs. Right. Like that’s going to happen.
P.S. And then today, on Mothering.com’s forum, I also realized that we still have two Teflon-coated cookware items in use: our waffle maker and our griddle. Grrr… And the hits just keep coming.