Once upon a mattress

We’re having a little problem in the bedroom. No, not that. It’s our bed – and it’s killing us, at least our backs, slowly.

I remember when I used to look forward to sleep, resting my weary bones after a hard day of computer work. But now, just the thought of retiring for the evening makes my back hurt, let alone when I actually turn out the lights and flatten out on the slab-hard surface.

Fifteen years and counting, this queen-size headache needs to be put out to pasture, or at least, kicked to the curb.

But of course, I would never cast off something that could be recycled or reused. Perish the thought.

But maybe everyone doesn’t feel this way. I mean, what’s a few mattresses in a landfill, right?

A little research indicates more than you can imagine. The average queen size (popular with married couples) typically weighs about 63 pounds and takes up about 23 cubic feet. In your house, no problem. But according to Good Morning America “Americans throw away about 20 million mattresses each year.” Now, it’s been a while since junior high, but if I’m doing this right, that means there are over 1 billion pounds of “mattress” adding to our overflowing landfills every year. Egads!

But here’s the good news: according to the Environmental News Network (ENN) up to 90 percent of mattress materials can be recycled.

“The wood, metal springs and cotton are removed from the mattress, and the foam is torn up. The wood is typically sold to wood chippers, which burn the wood for fuel. The cotton and foam are sold to companies that use the materials for insulation and carpet bagging.” Springs are melted down and sold to steel companies.

Here’s a video of how one company in Vancouver recycles a mattress:

Also good to know: Lots of places want your old mattresses. Check out Earth911 recycling locator and type in your zipcode.

Other ways to get rid of your mattress?

If it’s in good shape, you can give it away or sell it on: Freecycle or Craigslist. Just make sure it’s clean (nobody wants to sleep with your germs) using baking soda and a vacuum.

Other ideas: Using your mattress for something else, like makeshift couches, play areas for your kids or even garden additions. Limitless possibilities? Perhaps.

Either way, it’s good to know that something that once brought me pleasure (although it seems an eternity ago) can still serve a useful purpose in another capacity.

Of course, once our demon mattress is gone, we can also look into more eco-friendly styles that are now on the market.

I can hardly wait.

You know, my back feels better already.



About greenupforlife

Facing life one green challenge at a time. Freelance writer specializing in green and sustainable articles, blogs, cocktail napkins, whatever keeps the creditors at bay, while building my client base leaf by leaf.
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