When looking for the best latex mattress, check for the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) Certification, because it guarantees your new bed contains at least 95 percent natural latex. Eco-friendly shoppers prefer natural latex foam because it contains few, if any, potentially harmful chemicals. Plus, the GOLS certification assures you a quality product that’s made using eco-friendly, sustainable methods.
In this article, we discuss the need for the GOLS certification, the standards latex must meet to receive the GOLS label, and other factors to consider when choosing a latex mattress.
Need for the GOLS Certification
With the increasing demand for natural materials, latex products have become popular. To help shoppers identify organically-grown latex products, the Control Union created the GOLS certification program. This international testing and certification program developed the first global standard for natural latex, latex foam, and products made with latex foam.
Products eligible for the GOLS certification program include:
- Natural latex foam mattresses
- Mattress toppers and pads made with natural latex
- Natural latex pillows
One of the main reasons to use natural latex products is to reduce your exposure to chemicals. Synthetic products contain chemicals, which may be toxic to the environment as well as human health. Some chemicals such as formaldehyde and phthalates break down at room temperature, emitting gases. These chemical pollutants may cause nausea, breathlessness, wheezing, coughing, or skin irritation.
What’s more, the chemical byproducts released during the synthetic manufacturing process cause environmental pollution. They affect soil quality and endanger the life of several animals. To avoid these potential effects of chemicals, eco-friendly shoppers should opt for responsibly made, organic products.
Criteria for the GOLS Certification
The main aim of the GOLS certification is to guarantee quality latex products made with minimum chemical inputs. It also outlines requirements for organic textiles and non-organic materials used in the final products.
The GOLS guidelines cover the entire supply chain, from harvesting the raw materials to responsibly manufacturing, packing, and distributing the finished products. The following are some of the criteria products must meet to receive the GOLS certification:
The natural latex must be harvested from organic rubber plantations. The plantations should be certified by the USDA NOP (National Organic Program). This reduces the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
All GOLS products must contain more than 95 percent of certified organic latex. The GOLS certification limits the use of polymer and fillers needed to make latex foam.
If there are other materials in the latex product, such as cotton or wool, they must be GOTS or Eco-Institut certified. These globally accepted organic certifications for textiles ensure even the non-latex materials are responsibly made with minimal chemical inputs.
The Global Organic Textiles Standard (GOTS) evaluates organic fibers, from the raw material to the final product. A GOTS certified product must include at least 70 percent organic fibers. The Eco-Institut, based in Germany, is an independent certification organization. It examines textiles and building materials for hazardous emissions and chemical substances.
The latex foam must be processed and manufactured in GOLS approved units. Each processing step, including the disposal of waste, is checked by the inspectors of the certifying agency. These steps reduce the chances of environmental pollution and chemical residues, providing a sustainable end product to consumers.
Social and Humanitarian Factors
GOLS-approved units must meet social regulations. They provide safe working conditions and proper wages, according to the ILO (International Labor Organization) guidelines. Discrimination and child labor are not allowed.
Different Types of Latex
Not all types of latex foam include natural materials. Some may include a blend of natural and synthetic materials, while others contain only synthetic materials. The GOLS certification covers only natural latex products.
Some people prefer natural latex mattresses and pillows because this material has a cooling effect. It is a perfect choice for hot sleepers or those living in warm climates. Latex is also naturally resistant to dust mites, one of the most common indoor allergens. Dust mites can trigger symptoms such as sore throat, watery eyes, or runny nose.
Natural latex is processed using either the Dunlop or Talalay method. In both of these methods, liquid latex is subjected to extreme heat at the final stage to harden it into a foam, but the intermediary steps are different. This difference causes a slight variation in texture so Dunlop latex feels more springy, while Talalay latex is bouncy. Both types of natural latex are eligible for GOLS certification.
- Dunlop: During the Dunlop process, the rubber tree sap is stirred, poured into a large mold, then covered and stem-baked in a vulcanization oven at 257 degrees.
- Talalay: In the Talalay process, the rubber tree sap is stirred and poured into a large mold, but the mold is only half-filled and sealed. The latex expands in this vacuum-sealed mold, which is then frozen and finally baked in the vulcanization oven at the same temperature.
Synthetic latex is made with petroleum-based compounds called styrene and butadiene. Styrene-butadiene Rubber (SBR) is the scientific name for synthetic latex. We do not recommend synthetic latex products because they include many chemicals. These chemicals can affect your lungs, liver, and brain. As you might expect, synthetic latex is not eligible to be GOLS certified.
Blended latex contains a combination of synthetic and natural latex. The percentage of natural latex may be between 30 to 94 percent. When the percentage of natural latex is 95 and above, only then is it eligible for GOLS certification.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Latex Mattress
Latex mattresses are the perfect choice when shopping for organic beds because they contain the least amount of chemicals. Any other foam, like polyurethane or memory foam, includes more chemicals than all-natural latex foam so they cannot be GOLS or GOTS certified. These certifications and your bed’s firmness level are crucial factors to consider when you’re looking for a new latex mattress.
GOLS and GOTS certifications cut through the haze of greenwashing. Greenwashing is conveying a false impression about a product’s eco-friendliness. This practice even occurs with latex mattress manufacturers because some chemical components are needed to produce latex foam.
Manufacturers find ways to manipulate this aspect while making “green” claims about their product. The GOLS certification ensures a particular product contains at least 95 percent organic latex. Natural latex can be GOTS certified as well, but be cautious if you see only a “USDA Organic” label on a latex mattress.
The “USDA Organic” certification proves the rubber trees are grown organically. This certification does not cover the process used to derive the latex from rubber tree sap. Therefore, organic latex foam may contain more chemicals than GOLS certified latex mattresses.
The ideal firmness level suitable for you depends on your body type and sleeping position. Most average-sized people (weighing between 130 to 230 pounds) are comfortable on a medium mattress.
Side sleepers need a medium-soft mattress to cushion their shoulders and hips, which bear the weight of the body in this sleeping position. Back sleepers are typically comfortable on a medium-firm bed that provides enhanced back support.
Stomach sleepers need a firm mattress to prevent sinkage beneath the abdomen. We do not recommend stomach sleeping because it increases the risk of misaligning your spine, causing neck or back pain. Combination sleepers need a medium mattress, which provides a blend of firmness and softness to suit their changing sleep positions.
Pros and Cons of a Latex Mattress
Latex mattresses are low in chemical emissions so they are an excellent option for those prone to allergies. Some chemicals such as formaldehyde and phthalates may trigger symptoms such as breathlessness, nausea, and dizziness. Opting for a latex mattress can reduce these symptoms, providing you with quality sleep. However, most people shy away from latex mattresses because they are more expensive than most other mattress types.
- Sleeps cooler
- Certified organic beds contain minimal chemicals
What is GOLS certified latex?
GOLS certified latex has to be made with 95 percent natural materials. It is derived from the sap of organically grown rubber trees. Organic farmers do not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides. This protects the environment, and also the health of plantation workers. The GOLS certification even covers the processing and the entire supply chain, ensuring the least chemical inputs in the finished product.
What is the difference between GOTS and GOLS certifications?
Both GOTS and GOLS are global standards endorsed by the USDA’s NOP (United States Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program). The GOTS certification covers organic fibers from raw materials to the finished product. GOTS products contain at least 70 percent of organic fibers. The GOLS certification guarantees quality latex products. A GOLS product must include a minimum of 95 percent organic natural materials.
What does OEKO-TEX Standard 100 mean?
The OEKO-TEX Standard 100 label means that the product has been tested for harmful substances and chemicals. The label is specific to textiles and includes threads, clothing, zippers, buttons, linings, home fabrics, and more.
What is a natural latex mattress?
Natural latex mattresses are 95 percent natural material; there is no such thing as a 100 percent natural latex mattress because some chemicals have to be added to natural latex to convert the milky white fluid into a foam. Natural latex mattresses contain the least amount of chemicals (compared to synthetic or blended latex). The GOLS certification ensures a latex mattress is made with at least 95 percent natural materials.
Which mattresses are non-toxic?
When shopping for an organic, non-toxic mattress, look for products made with more natural materials because they are low in chemicals. Natural latex and plant-based memory foam beds contain fewer chemicals than traditional memory foam or poly-foam beds. Plant-based foam is made by substituting a portion of petroleum-based products with natural plant oils. Mattresses made with plant-based foams sleep cooler than traditional memory foam beds.
The GOLS certification is one of the most stringent standards in the industry because it permits only 5 percent synthetic content in a product. When you invest in a GOLS-approved product, you reduce chemical pollutants in your indoor as well as outdoor environment. The GOLS products are made responsibly with minimal use of chemicals, so they do not emit harmful gases. This certification also ensures there are checks and measures in the processing and manufacturing units, preventing industrial waste from leaking into the environment. GOLS consumers can feel relieved and proud about protecting themselves as well as the environment.
About the author
Geoff McKinnen is a writer focusing mainly on the healthcare industry and has written articles on everything from foods to help you lose weight to the connection between Alzheimer’s and sleep. Geoff’s passionate about helping readers improve their well-being to lead happier lives. Outside of work, Geoff enjoys cycling and hiking and believes that by leading a healthy lifestyle, he can help others do the same.View all posts