The American citizens dispose of close to 20 million mattresses each year. This trend comes after the demand for new bedding has significantly gone up in new homes across the country. Mattress companies have created a movement of mass mattress buying that has claimed over 132,000 square miles of land.
Over the last few years, the traditional methods of mattress disposal have become stringent. People have seen the introduction of several regulations. Authorities and environmentalists are putting more stress on recycling and reusing old mattress more than ever. There has been a sharp rise in the number of non-profit organizations in every state of the US that can transform mattresses into other products.
Recycling centers have been trying to make a difference by reclaiming the land that discarded beds take away each year. There are only about 40 mattress recycling centers in the Northern States. It outlines the enormous gap between the discarding and reclamation process.
Why is Mattress Disposal so Hectic for the Regular American Homeowners?
Mattress dumping has been a persistent issue for the EPA and even for the mattress buyers. The rise in bedding purchase has not made responsible disposal any more comfortable than before. More and more numbers of landfills and junkyards do not want them anymore since they are bulky. Traditional mattresses are not very amiable to crushing, and they frequently jam machinery. Old mattresses are a nuisance at home and the landfill.
The mattress-scrapping confusion is giving rise to a growing number of unscrupulous third parties, who will throw a new cover on your old mattress and sell it to an unsuspecting customer for retail prices. Till 2017, it has taken away $1 billion in sales from retailers. Although recycling offers a solution that is friendly for everyone, finding the correct party and the right prices is not always possible for a customer.
The problem of old and discarded mattresses is becoming an epidemic in the US. It is because beds have an average lifespan of 8 to 10 years. At the end of its life, what you do with your mattress is up to your discretion. In case your beddings are not entirely hanging by their last thread, you can always donate it. There are some national charities and non-governmental organizations that accept used household items in usable condition. It usually includes mattresses, pillows and mattress toppers. National charities use them as whole or recycle them to new products.
Even with so many charitable organizations all around, people find it easier to dump their mattresses in the junkyard. Donating a bed is not as straightforward as giving away a pack of clothes or old books. The donation process depends on the condition of the mattress, the dimensions of it and the composition. The rule of the thumb is, if you find it unusable, you should not give it to others for regular use. Since there are no costs of donation, most organizations often prefer it when donors drive down to their geographic locations to give the mattresses. However, most of the NGOs and recycling companies have some home pickup provision for each of their localities.
Here are a few places you can try for donating your old bedding.
- The Salvation Army. The Salvation Army has been around since the 1860s. This international organization now maintains several thrift stores and charity shops across the 50 states. People working here are always ready to accept an act of generosity. Mattresses are costly, and sometimes, people are inclined to throw out perfectly good beds because they are moving to a new city or a smaller apartment. At Some locations, the Salvation Army offers free furniture pickups, but you can also drop the mattress off at the spot in person. The donations must be free from damage and in excellent condition. Most of the contributions to the Salvation Army are also tax deductible.
- Furniture Bank Association of America. The furniture bank association of America is active in over 80 locations across North America. Most of these fronts limit their pickup services to a 15 to 20-mile radius. The FBA works towards providing each American household furnishing at almost no cost. Ring them up to find out if they have pickup services at your location. Some of them have semi-large trucks that can support 450 miles of the journey for substantial donations from families.
- Goodwill. This is one of the best known American charity organizations that operate thrift stores, provides job training, and charity shops across the US. They have over 3500 thrift stores in the country. Goodwill does not accept used mattresses, but you can donate other parts of your bedding including your linens, bed toppers, and bed frames. They are always working towards generating more revenue from the donated goods since 85% of it goes into their community outreach programs.
- Habitat for humanity international. Habitat for humanity international is a non-profit that aims at providing affordable living conditions to people across the globe. They have several “ReStore” home improvement centers in several locations that sell everything from used dining tables to bedding. They also accept used mattresses as long as they are in usable condition. Several of these locations have pickup services for individual donors. You may drop your stuff by at any ReStore after giving them a call since some of the sites may not accept used mattresses.
In addition to these popular donation options, several local organizations accept mattresses from households. They might have their regulations and requirements for approving used bedding, but donating it to another family is much better than throwing it in with the trash. You can check with women’s shelters, family shelters, and local thrift stores as well.
Mattress Stewardship Law
Connecticut was the first state to implement this law in 2013 and California became the third in the US. The new law helped to standardize the use of hygienic fiber components. Their only aim is to reduce the frequency of mattress disposals in the state. The law prevents the illegal dumping of mattresses in landfills and empty plots. It promotes the practice of reusing and recycling pallets.
According to this law, bedding defines a material or a combination of materials, natural or silk, that provides support and comfort during sleep. That also includes renovated foundations and mattresses people buy from retailers or manufacturers in the USA. This law also designates several solid waste disposal facilities that provide the necessary means for the correct disposal of any bedding material.
A mattress recycling organization can design, fund, and manage its stewardship program. That is possible as long as the organization includes a planning committee consisting of qualified industry members. Each recycling committee or organization should ideally set up a mattress recycling, goal, and report to their state recycling unit annually. The Stewardship Plan outlines the goals, responsibilities, and etiquette for the mattress recycling facility within the state.
Take Your Bedding to a Recycling Center
Did you know? Almost 90% of your old mattress can become something new and astonishing if it lands in the hands of the right people. You should always start by looking for a place that recycles old household items. Several sites that do accept used household items do not necessarily receive used mattresses. Running a Google search for an organization that allows used beds will yield a list of such places within your reach. There are dedicated search engines cum databases that assist users in the process of finding the right centers that accept bedding, curtains, linen, and furniture in their vicinity.
In today’s world, it is common to receive some form of compensation or appreciation for offering our belongings. However, for most of these organizations, to get recycling services, you must pay them. It is usually a nominal $10 or $20 for a mattress if you drop it off. The home pickup and recycling service can cost you a pretty $40 or $50. They do not accept mattresses that have bed bugs, stains or tears in them. In several places, the state laws apply to the donor and the accepting organization.
In individual states, people can buy new mattresses feeling guilt-free because the state emphasizes mattress stewardship law during purchase. The extra costs help pay for the transport of discarded mattresses to the collection sites, provide an incentive for recycling events and even purchase containers for transport to the collection zones. The foam, steel springs, box springs, and wooden parts are all recyclable parts of the mattress. Without the help of a recycling organization, it is impossible for regular people and DIYers to indulge in mattress recycle activities by themselves.
How Should you Prepare for a Successful bedding Dumping?
There are some situations where a mattress has no life left and is crying for disposal. In case you have prominent stains on the mattress, tears, broken springs and far too many lumps, you may want to forego donation.
Several national or statewide junk removal companies provide door-to-door services. Due to the recent modification of new landfill laws, most of these companies will verify if your mattress qualifies to go to the junkyard. You can fast forward this process by following these steps below.
- Check the warranty of the company before throwing your mattress away. Some retailers and sellers offer buy-back services and even disposal services.
- You should also find out the approximate weight of the mattress before you commission the junk removal services. Several companies charge by weight, while others can put a base removal fee.
- Always run a thorough analysis of all facilities in the locality before you choose your junk removal service. Some of them might have home-pickup charges that they do not mention on their websites, so give them a call and find out their cost calculation before hiring them.
Breaking down and reusing a mattress is no easy job. It needs dedication and a lot of love for the environment to commit. A mattress has several non-biodegradable and biodegradable components. That gives each owner limitless possibilities to create new stuff out of their rundown mattresses.
What is the Correct Process of Mattress Disposal?
Sometimes, when you have no other way than to junk your old bed and go for a new one, you need to make a few tough calls. First, you need to overcome that urge to hand it over to the garbage truck in the morning.
You cannot just throw a whole mattress out in the street, and your state law probably forbids you from doing that. Second, follow up on your state’s mattress recycling and disposal laws. This step will save you a lot of hassle and a lot of money in the long run. Thirdly, follow these steps carefully.
- There are few sellers, who do not provide buyback services and transport services on their old mattresses. Now, you need to get rid of your old mattress as soon as your new one comes home, so you can ask the delivery people if they know of any agencies that transport old bedding or recycle them. Most experienced mattress delivery-people are aware of transport services that haul old mattresses for correct disposal.
- In case you can drive the mattress to the location, check if it will fit inside your car or if you need to hire/borrow a truck for it. It is likely that there are traffic laws that will apply to haul large and bulky objects inside or on top of family cars. Check in advance with your local traffic control units as well. You do not want to tangle in the middle of tickets and fines with a large mattress on or in your car.
- Mattress disposal comes at a cost. This cost varies between cities or states. You should ask your city council about the necessary expenses of transport and dumping before throwing it in the back of your truck and driving all the way to the end of the world. Several dumps have strict working hours, so give them a call ahead of time.
How to Recycle Used Bedding and Its Components?
Most companies that work with used or rundown mattresses begin by cutting the mattress open and separating the inside material. The softer parts contribute to a host of industrial and household products including carpets, textiles, cushions, and insulation. A more significant portion of the steel goes into making building material. After using about 70% of the mattress components, there are still leftovers that go into the landfill.
You will need a wide array of tools and some steady hands to repurpose your old bed. Do remember to get some sturdy gloves, sharp cutters, sturdy pliers, screwdrivers, and baskets for trash. Start by cutting around the edge of the mattress along the cover seams. It will make it easy for you to set the cover aside as you dig into the deeper layers. You can keep removing the layers and sorting the different components out simultaneously. It is what you can expect to find, depending on your mattress type and how you can use them.
PU foam. Polyurethane foam mattresses are economical, long-lasting, and highly reusable. Several organizations, companies, and even homeowners use the PU foam from the core to design carpets, cushions and car seats. Some eco-friendly pet furnishing companies use them to make scratchers, cat furniture, and dog bedding. They are very durable.
Memory foam. Memory foam and latex foam mattresses have similar potentials. Memory foam mattresses are usually costly, and they serve for at least a decade. Departing with your memory foam bedding can be close to impossible so that you can turn it into cushions for your work chair, pillows for your car and even the plush pet bed. Believe us, and your back will be thanking you if you can successfully fashion your memory foam bed.
Spring mattresses. Double-sided spring mattresses are the tricky ones here. Unless you have a home workshop, you will find it very difficult to repurpose them. They have about 25 pounds of steel, which makes lifting them quite challenging. The first job is to separate the springs from the softer parts. You can melt the steel and use them to craft new products. It is the sculptor’s sweetest dream. Steel is quite costly, and you can sell the springs off as scrap if you lack the time or the resources for DIY melting. A quick Google search will reveal all local metal workshops and scrap yards in your locality that purchase separated bed springs. You can usually make between $10 to $100 on your sale of bed springs, depending on their bulk and condition.
Natural fiber beds. Natural fiber mattresses are the best for recycling. You can take them apart without professional help. They include wool, silk, cotton and even rayon. You can use the material as insulation, or you can make new padding for chairs, duvets, futons, and headboards from it.
Wooden parts. The wooden elements of the bed like the frame and slats are precious for home remodeling. You can use them for making new shelves in the garage or add new cabinet separators to your kitchen. If you lack the creative finesse, do not worry. You can dry them thoroughly and use them as firewood on your next family bonfire. You can also make lawn mulch from the leftover wood from the bed. The smaller parts like screws, nails, and buttons find use in several DIY projects around the house. You can use the braiding in some of the most original DIY tasks and home redecorations.
There are state laws that prevent consumers from breaking mattresses and selling their parts or throwing them away. If you plan to do that, always check with the local mattress authorities (yes, there is something like that for every state) before dumping the parts in the landfill. Repurposing eliminates the associated costs of disposal and recycling by professionals. It is indeed the most cost-effective solution for the average American. The only possible disadvantage is the detailed, time-consuming nature of the process. While taking the mattress apart will make it easier to move and store, you must remember that selling individual parts can take much longer than selling a mattress. So unless you are handy with tools and creative projects, it is best for you to spend a couple of extra bucks and hire professional hauling services.
What Are some DIY ideas for Mattress Recycling?
We know how difficult it can be to handle a day job, manage family and then think about new ideas to repurpose old furnishing in the house. So here are a few fun ideas to help you reuse your old mattress parts around your home.
- You can use the springs to create fancy candle holders, flower vases, plant or small pot holders and frames for your paintings.
- Spray the mattress springs in shiny bright colors to use them as tree decorations for the upcoming holidays. You can also use them for wreaths and Halloween decorations.
- Give your pet a comfy bed by cutting up your old memory foam mattress and sewing the ends together with a new durable cloth.
- You can buy beanbags without the fillings and use the shredded latex foam to create a super comfy and pocket-friendly array of mix and match beanbags.
- You can give back to the environment by creating a compost bin using the wood from the bed. Scatter the stuffing and the natural fiber around the pile for protection.
- Rugs for your entire home including your toolshed, attic and basement area become a lot cheaper when you use the old linen and your old bedding.
If these ideas do not seem enough, you can always check on Pinterest and YouTube for new ideas that will help you recycle old mattresses. Sometimes, repurposing your almost-discarded bedding can breathe a new life into your home decoration within a cost-effective budget.
Have you Thought About Reselling Your Mattress?
The easiest way to transfer responsibility for your current mattress is to start looking for a buyer when it still has some life left in it. The rise of social media and C2C business forums has enabled people to sell virtually anything online. While you are sitting with a catalog of brand new mattress just waiting to say goodbye to your older one, your next-door neighbor might be looking for a second-hand mattress.
Craigslist can help you find potential buyers for your bedding, almost-new linens, old furniture and almost-new set of tools within days. This platform allows all users and potential sellers place free ads for their products. Craigslist and OfferUp are websites ideal for meeting the new owner of your old mattress. The buyers can contact you directly through the site.
Facebook, Pinterest, and WhatsApp are other potential social media cum messaging platforms that can put you in touch with buyers, DIY enthusiasts and even recycle organizations interested in your product. However, remember to be honest about the condition and quality. Always remember that if you would not want to sell it to a friend, you do not want to sell it to a stranger on Facebook or Craigslist either.
Getting your mattress professionally cleaned will be an investment decision before putting it up for sale. Your cleaning service can cost you lesser than $100, but you can fetch between $200 and $400. The selling price of your mattress will depend upon the material, condition, and integrity of the mattress. The brand will also make a massive impact on the price. It might even get rid of the sweat stains, old smells and the used feeling that old mattresses usually have. Do not forget to include the price of the mattress in the product description area and the number of years you have used them.
Do You Need to Throw Your Bedding Away?
We have seen so many perfectly useful mattresses go to waste that we cannot help but ask you to double check your mattress status. Only about 1% of the total discarded mattresses in the US go for recycling. Unless your mattress is visibly sagging in the middle or there are rips on top, there is no reason for you to throw it away. Sometimes, all an old mattress needs is some flipping and a robust topper. If there is a visible sag in the middle, your mattress might need a foundation adjustment only. You can place plywood of 0.5-inch thickness to prop the bedding up from underneath.
Your decision can cost you or save you hundreds of bucks. Adding a mattress protector when you first buy your bed can also save you all the hassle. In fact, we have seen a lot of mattresses sag in the middle due to foundation faults. Sleepers who weigh above 230 pounds require a topper thicker than 4 inches to give them complete joint and spinal support during sleep.
There are cases when the mattress becomes too soft or too firm upon constant use. All you need is a mattress topper for extra firm mattresses to make them comfy. To manage excessive softness, you can adjust the foundation of your mattress and add a plywood board, in case mattress rotation does not solve the problem.
How to Make your Mattress Last Longer the Next Time?
Beddings tend to last longer for people who weigh less. It looks like obesity poses not only as a life risk but also a mattress-risk. Sleepers weighing significantly more than 200 pounds need mattress protectors and mattress toppers to secure the even distribution of their weight. Presence of an added layer on top of the bedding also makes it more comfortable for the sleepers. Some manufacturer warranties require the users to buy protectors. The lifespan of your bed can extend from 6 years to 10 years if you manage to find the correct topper and protector duo that go with it.
Mattresses last longer with the right box spring pair. Some manufacturers explicitly state in their warranty terms about the mandatory use of box springs with their bedding. The modern beds with wooden slats or platform beds do not need box springs. They can provide optimal support to almost all kinds of contemporary mattress designs. Nonetheless, the box springs can add a few years to your precious mattress. Your bedding may cost nearly 6 to 8 times that of a box spring, so investing in one makes all the more sense.
To Dump, or Not to Dump: That’s the Real Bedding Confusion
Sometimes, all you need is a change of mattress to change the way you sleep. A peaceful 8-hour long slumber can clear your mind and rejuvenate your senses. Recent sleep studies show that the lack of complete 8 to 10 hours of restorative sleep can take a toll on a person’s cognition and decision-making abilities. However, there are times when a lump inside the mattress or pronounced sag keeps us from getting the rest we deserve.
The quality of a mattress can determine the quality of your sleep, the condition of your back muscles and the health of your spine. The presence of unwanted sags can create problems of the spine. In fact, new research shows that people with joint pain (including arthritis) sleep better on memory foam mattresses or medicated adjustable mattresses, due to the support they can provide to the muscular-skeletal system. Proper support and even distribution of pressure are mandatory for assuring the complete comfort of the sleeper.
You may be facing the disposal problem either because you did not find a mattress protector and box spring set or your mattress merely is at the last leg of its journey. Irrespective of the cause, you need to decide whether you want to throw it away, donate it for charity or recycling or turn it into your DIY project. What you choose can cost you between $10 and $300, or you can end up making money from it by reselling it on websites like Craigslist and OfferUp.
Co-founder of Counting Sheep and Sleepaholic