bedroomgreen.jpg When you take into account approximately one-third of your life is spent partaking in counting sheep, sawing logs, catching z’s and any other cute, age-old phrase that implies sleeping, your bedroom – let’s face it – is a place where you spend a significant amount of your lifetime. With this less-than-startling statistic in mind, this revered space of tranquility might be one of the first places you consider transitioning into a green-friendly living space. But what constitutes a so-called green bedroom? As with most any transition and lifestyle change, some of the steps taken to achieve this treasured state are minimal, while others are wider reaching and might require more of a concerted effort on your part. Below are five pointers on transitioning your slumber land into a space that truly represents eco-friendly, organic living:

1. Do not purchase “conventional” bedding products

Here’s an interesting fact that could keep you up at night (my apologies!): By virtue of how they are manufactured, most traditional blankets, mattresses, pillowcases and sheets are made of chemicals – quite a few of them, as it turns out. The reason being is these products are made up of cotton, a fiber that oftentimes contains a number of different types of insecticides, some that are even classified as human carcinogens. Several types of dyes and similar chemicals are also used to bleach these items. On the website Cape Cod Today, blogger Betsy Wild says modern cotton producing techniques account for 25 percent of all insecticides produced across the globe. She delves even further into some of the potentially harmful impacts of using traditional bedding materials: “Synthetic fibers, such as polyurethane foam and polyester, are made from petroleum and can cause allergic reactions and even initiate cancer,” Wild writes. “Mattresses and pads must be treated with fire retardants, which emit formaldehyde and pose additional health risks.”

2. Consider buying untreated bedding products

The good news: A growing number of manufacturing companies are introducing bedding products that are made of all-natural, untreated products. This means they do not have any carcinogens, insecticides or any other harmful chemicals. It should be noted: Not all cotton-based products contain chemicals. There are manufacturers out there marketing blankets, mattresses, pillowcases and sheets made of all-organic cotton. The enemy here is not cotton – it’s the process used. In addition to organic cotton, eco-friendly bedding products can be made with such all-natural products as bamboo and hemp. So, check your labels and choose wisely!

3. Keep sustainability in mind as you search out your wooden bed frame

Searching for a new bed (frame, mattress, etc.) is a time-consuming, exhaustive and expensive process. There’s no denying this reality! In fact, some might argue it’s such an important process that it’s on part with searching for a new automobile. As you seek out your next bed – one that hopefully will last for years to come and provide for many rest-filled nights – consider one with wooden frames certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting forests for future generations. When you purchased an FSC-certified bed frame, you do so knowing your purchase came directly from a sustainably-managed forest. In other words, the tree used for the lumber was replaced at its place of origin and was not part of the sweeping deforestation that is ravaging portions of our global forestry supply.

4. Do an exhaustive search of possibilities before tossing your old mattress in a landfill

For a variety of sanitary and ergonomic reasons, most experts generally suggest you replace your old mattress once every decade. The glaring question: When you go ahead and buy a new mattress – one that hopefully gives the sensation of floating on a cloud – what do you do with the old one? While it might be tempting to simply chuck an old, unwanted mattress somewhere in the woods – I’ve come across the scenario more than a few times during my nature walks! – a few extra steps on your part will be far kinder to the environment. One possibility to consider is contacting a furniture or mattress specialty store. There are some outlets that will recycle your unwanted mattress at no cost, and it will not sit and occupy a large amount of space in a landfill. If your old mattress is still in good condition, you might also consider donating or selling it before just leaving it at the end of your yard. If there is still value in your old mattress, and you donate it, you will have the satisfaction of giving to someone in need. Having mentioned all of the above, I would be remiss if I did not mention that laws, ordinances and regulations can vary between states and municipalities, so it is always a wise idea to brush up on the requirements in your community before considering your next course of action on your unwanted mattress.

5. Check the air quality in your bedroom

The folks at the website Green Home lay out good, concise reasons for ensuring your bedroom is respectful of Mother Earth. The site’s editors give a good two-pronged rationale behind the virtues of keep air quality at a premium. On one hand, they lay out the benefits of purchasing an air filter or purifier: “You spend eight hours a night breathing the air in your bedroom, which means you want to keep the air in there as clean as possible.” In keeping with the green-friendly mantra, the site’s editors also encourage people to use ecologically responsible cleaning products – a suggestion, of course, that extends beyond the bedroom and applies to the kitchen, bathroom, living room and any other part of the house that is in need of a little TLC. Some of the green cleaning products worth considering include all-natural, chemical-free carpet shampoos, wood polishes and phosphate-free detergents. When you use these supplies, you achieve the same objective but do not emit toxic chemicals that can irritate your skin and cause any other unintended, adverse conditions.