Vegans are increasingly calling Abaca because they want to buy an organic vegan mattress. Vegans have a strong ethical stance about what they buy, and since they are one of the biggest sectors that buy organic food it’s natural that they would look for a mattress that is both organic and vegan.
In terms of organic certification, organic means a product of agriculture, so natural fibres are the obvious choice to create a mattress that is both organic and vegan. It’s at this point that we run into the problem of there being very limited materials that have organic certification. Cotton, the obvious choice for a futon style vegan mattress is not yet available as pads that could be used inside such a product. Non-organic cotton is increasingly unavailable unless it’s mixed with polyester, or in some cases wool. The cotton that’s used for these pads is a waste material, so not high quality, and mattresses made with them tend to compress and become hard quite quickly. Cotton also absorbs dampness from our bodies but doesn’t release it in the way that wool does, so a vegan mattress made in this way won’t last for very many years.
If cotton is out of the picture, then the more traditional materials such as wool are what we turn to. There are two types of wool that are available to buy, the first is wool that is sheared from sheep every year. Shearing is a welfare issue, if a sheep isn’t sheared the fleece becomes over dense and harmful insects can set up home inside it. Organic wool comes from sheep that have some of the highest welfare standards in the UK, and certification has to be present for every stage that the wool goes through, such as grading, washing and opening. The second type of wool is what they call slaughterhouse wool, in other words wool that’s taken from sheep that are killed for their meat.
The only type of wool that we buy at Abaca is shorn wool, and we regularly make mattresses for vegans who are prepared to compromise in the use of animal fibre. An Abaca organic vegan mattress is usually made with organic latex, organic wool and an organic cotton cover. Organic latex is sap from the rubber tree which is poured into a mould to make a pad. Made in this way, the animal fibre content is only about 15% of the total weight of the mattress. Not perfect perhaps, but an extremely good purchase if what you’re looking for is an organic vegan mattress that will last for 10-15 years.