Conscious Sleeping: Avocado Green Mattress

It’s hard to deny that one of the best joys in life is a good night’s sleep. It’s equally hard to ignore however the waste that many of the traditional mattresses we lie on create. Many mattresses continue to be made out of synthetic materials and foams which, along with metal springs, take years to decompose. In the US close to 8,000 mattresses are disposed of in landfills every day, which equates to 175 million of material waste, figures that are more sobering when one realises that they account for just one country in the world (NY Times, 2012).

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IN THE PHOTO: Landfill in Nicaragua. PHOTO CREDIT:  Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

But not everyone is sitting back and doing nothing. Many businesses and local governments have started encouraging mattress recycling programs, to utilize materials that are often very much reusable. Some companies have decided to go a step further by making mattresses that don’t create waste in the first place.

One of those companies is Avocado Green Mattress, a US-based business that has dedicated itself to the pursuit of making all-natural, eco-friendly mattresses and pillows. Using materials like all-natural latex, wool, and organic cotton, and avoiding foams and plastics, Avocado takes its mattress-making very seriously. I reached out to Co-Founder Jay Decker to learn more about Avocado’s history, sourcing processes, and its focus on regenerative practices.

What originally inspired you to get into the mattress/pillow space?

Jay Decker: It’s rather serendipitous. Our founding team is comprised of individuals with diverse industry backgrounds, from design and fashion to manufacturing and technology. Having worked together previously, we were actively exploring new opportunities to apply our collective skill set while giving back to the community. As fate would have it, two of our soon-to-be founders were researching crib mattresses for their growing family. They were inquisitive about what happens behind-the-scenes, how things were made, and what they uncovered was disconcerting.


IN THE PHOTO: Jay Decker with Avocado pillow. PHOTO CREDIT:  Jay Decker

The mattress industry at large, we all came to learn, has long been marred with questionable practices and the use of cheap synthetic materials. These materials, such as petroleum-based polyurethane foams, chemical adhesives and flame-retardants, can emit VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) that compromise the air quality in our homes before ultimately polluting a landfill. In fact, nearly 30 million mattresses are dumped in a landfill annually in the US alone. The entire lifecycle is hazardous and wasteful.

As conscious consumers, we think carefully about the foods we eat, the cars we drive and the clothes we wear. But how often do we pause to consider what lurks within the confines of our own beds? Let alone the long-term repercussions of such purchases. It was a case of 20/20 hindsight that revealed a clear and urgent need for natural, low-impact alternatives at an affordable price point.

We started Avocado Green Mattress on the premise of safety, accessibility and transparency. We were confident that we could inspire change by remaining true to our values and environmental mission – and we were right! To date, we’ve been fortunate to share our vision with like-minded partners and thousands of enthusiastic customers. We’re excited for what the future holds and for the opportunity to help advance an archaic industry.

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IN THE PHOTO: Avocado mattress. PHOTO CREDIT:  Avocado Green Mattress

What does sustainability mean to you and Avocado Green Mattress?

J.D.: We believe that growth and sustainability can exist in harmony. We’re a young company but we’re making strides each day in accordance with this philosophy. For example, our manufacturing facility is nearing zero-waste, and we recently joined CarbonFund to help offset our carbon emissions. We’re committed to solving waste-related issues for mattress returns through donation programs and responsible re-use. And in the near future, we’ll begin pursuing our Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certification as a guideline for responsible operations.

However, what we find most exciting goes beyond sustainability itself and is aimed at truly regenerative practices. Unlike sustainability, which seeks to mitigate an organization’s cumulative impact on the environment, regeneration examines the organization as part of an integrated whole. How can we develop systems, processes or methods of production that are not only less harmful, but truly beneficial to people and planet?

There are many great resources emerging on the subject – and I’m far from an expert- but it seems apparent that a pervasive and radical departure from traditional methods of production and consumption must occur in order to ensure the health and prosperity of future generations. We’re committed to remaining at the forefront of such a movement for this reason.  

What is Avocado’s process of sourcing of natural and sustainable materials like? What challenges do your quality standards pose?

J.D.: There are several important factors to consider in our material sourcing process. First and foremost we look at supplier certifications as a relative indicator of farming and/or harvesting techniques. Common textile certifications include GOTS, OEKO-TEX, and Greenguard. Beyond certifications, we’ll learn about a supplier’s general practices and level of commitment to sustainability.  


IN THE PHOTO: Avocado mattress. PHOTO CREDIT:  Avocado Green Mattress

The process can be painstaking and does present challenges, namely due to our size and level of influence. We don’t have the same clout as the big guys. But if we can establish supplier relationships that are well aligned with our mission from day one, we can collectively reap the benefits for many years to come.

Avocado is also a member of 1% For the Planet, how has that affected your business?

To be quite honest, it’s business as usual here. We solidified our priorities on day one and such partnerships are indicative of our focused environmental agenda. We’re proud to support 1% For the Planet. It ties us to a like-minded community and offers a great platform to contribute toward our world’s most pressing environmental issues. But we’re just getting started, and so we’d prefer to ask how can Avocado better align with and contribute to 1% For the Planet? How can we realize greater synergies with all our partners for the benefit of all?


IN THE PHOTO: Jay Decker with Avocado pillow. PHOTO CREDIT:  Jay Decker

What is the future of Avocado Green Mattress looking like?

Some things will remain consistent, like our commitment to craftsmanship and the naturalness of our products. What has evolved most notably are our investments and contributions in the realm of sustainability and regeneration. We’ve lead by example, learned from those before us, and championed our allies in a unified effort to realign with our ecosystem. There has been much trial and error in the process, but never in vain. Ultimately, we see Avocado as a platform for positive change. And we sincerely hope our efforts will influence a new generation of entrepreneurs to embrace the triple bottom line, broadening their perspective, and placing people and planet over profit.

About the Author /

Mohamad Akef is an Impakter columnist and fan of Egyptian football. When he’s not watching a match he enjoys creative writing and outdoor hiking, and is currently studying for his MBA at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley

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