I mentioned earlier that Able-Bodied Boyfriend and I were in the process of looking for a new mattress.
When he first brought it up, my mind immediately went to all the "bad" things I've heard about mattresses. Unsustainable, rainforest-killing latex procurement; the use and off-gassing of petrochemicals; toxic fire retardants; concerns about the effects of these materials being put into landfills. I expressed these concerns.
Of course, I have a terrible memory for details, so I expressed these concerns poorly. Very, very poorly. "Ewwww, a regular mattress? They're, ummm, bad. They can give you cancer!! Can we get an eco-mattress? They're better! Because they're, um, green."
Funny enough, a couple days later, arduous blog posted about trying to find a green mattress in their area. I took it as a sign; if I can actually get my act together, we should try to find one of our own.
Now, Able-Bodied Boyfriend and I are mostly, well, complete opposites. We handle things and make decisions in different ways, and not always in ways that are complementary. You have to choose your battles, so we mostly end up doing the divide & conquer thing or at least let one person take the lead on any given project.
He's a researcher. He can sit for hours on end, browsing and reading everything on a given product or topic. After sitting all day at work in front of computer, I'm more of a skim-a-few-of-the-most-popular-articles sort of person. And since the mattress was his idea, he has definitely taken the lead on researching and figuring out what we need to do in order to make this decision.
He wants something comfortable and durable/long-lasting. I want something eco-friendly, or at least not overtly eco-unfriendly. I did a bit of research on the main points of concern (material sources, chemicals used, how easily they break down/off-gas, and if the main materials used will decompose easily and without toxicity), and asked Able-Bodied Boyfriend to add that to his research. We're also looking for mattress recycling programs, both through the manufacturers and other organizations.
It was a bit of a struggle at first. He was concerned about comfort and durability, and even availability. I did some research and found some eco-friendly mattress stores in the region that are less than 2 hours away, which we plan to go to for some additional mattress-testing. Every time we spoke, he had done more research and seemed more open to them, but less optimistic that we'd be able to find one that was comfortable and durable. So we'll see...
My main fear, though, is just being ok with a regular old toxic mattress. Because I always have been ok with them, and because it's easy to let things like that into your life and never think about it again. Sure, the first few stinky weeks would bother me, but annoyances fade and you get used to the smell and feel of the purchase and it becomes another thing faded into the background of your life.
That's not to say that I would be in green heaven all the time if it were a greener mattress - ok, maybe the first few weeks I'd grin from ear-to-ear every night, nudging Able-Bodied Boyfriend with a "hey, this make me feel good about our part in this world" - but after a while, it would become normalized.
Question is, which will it be? A normal life of the toxins we let in? Or a normal life of eco-logical/-nomical decisions?
I'll keep you posted.