There are an estimated 36 million mattresses sold each year in the United States. We all use them and know the struggle of figuring out what to do with them at the end of their useful life.
Discarded mattresses negatively impact the environment as the majority of them end up in landfills, and once in the landfill a single mattress can take up 40 cubic feet of space, creating a significant burden. When it comes time to replacing your mattress, figuring out how to dispose of it might be challenging. Before you decide to landfill it, let’s explore some environmentally conscious options.
Mattresses are a highly sought-after piece of furniture and a highly disposed of one, as well. According to the Sleep Foundation a mattress typically gets replaced every 8 years.
With the rise of online mattress retailers and bed-in-a-box mattresses, it is becoming easier and easier to avoid all the heavy lifting involved by having a mattress delivered directly to your home. But what do you do when it’s time to get rid of the mattress and the heavy lifting is no longer avoidable? Since we know just how simple it is to find and purchase a mattress through online or in-store retailers, let’s talk about the options we have when it comes time to remove or replace one.
So, what do you do when it’s time to go out with the old and in with the new? Well, there are a few things to consider before you put that old mattress to bed, for good.
The first option to consider is to donate it. Donating your mattress is the most eco-friendly option and can also be the most practical.
However, before deciding to donate your mattress it is important to assess the condition of it. Ask yourself – would I want someone else to sleep here? Here are the characteristics of a mattress that would be acceptable for donation:
Where to Donate Your Mattresses
Donate Good Stuff is an interactive list that shows you organizations that accept donations that are near you. It gives you a list of options with location, hours, donation guidelines, if pickup is available, and even tells you what they do with the donations - And it's all in one place. Just enter your zip code and distance you are willing to go.
The Furniture Bank Association of America provides furniture to underserved communities or community’s members in need at little or no cost. It operates as a collection of furniture banks such as, non-profit organizations, charities and social enterprises across the Country. Follow the link above to explore the directory and see if there is a furniture bank operating near you.
Donation Town provides an online directory focused on highlighting charitable organizations that collect clothing and household goods. Explore the directory to see if there is an opportunity to donate a mattress in your area.
Local Shelters can be another option for mattress donation. And if your mattress is in good, usable condition, it will likely find its way to a new home.
Give Your Mattress Away
Online marketplaces are another way to “freecycle” and market items for donation. Simply post your ad for a gently used mattress on these online marketplaces, set it for local pickup (or delivery) and other users will see it. This is a great way to handle a mattress that might not be in optimal shape for donation because potential recipients have agency to accept it or not and decide if it works for their needs.
NextDoor The NextDoor app is a social networking application to connect with community members that live within your neighborhood. It is a great outlet to connect and talk with neighbors, ask questions and buy, sell or donate goods.
Facebook Marketplace has become a popular hub for selling and donating. The ability to direct message buyers and sellers make this platform simple and streamlined. All you need is an account, to snap a photo and set your price (or maybe it’s free!).
Craigslist A similar option to Facebook Marketplace and is another option to donate locally. If you do not have a Facebook account or are hesitant about creating one, all Craigslist requires is an email address – there is even a “Free” section on the website waiting for you.
OfferUp is a simple way to buy and sell locally. All it requires is for you to create an account, list your item and set the distance from your location that you would like your item to reach.
Mercari is similar to OfferUp. It provides the ability to donate or sell your used items locally or ship them across the U.S.
Recycle Your Mattress
If you are here you’ve made it to the recycle section and this article has not put you to sleep yet. It also means that you have determined that your mattress is not donatable.
If your mattress would not be accepted for donation or someone else’s use, your next best option is to recycle it. When opting to recycle your mattress, the condition of it should still be checked. There are some recycling facilities that may still reject your mattress if there are odors, water damage or infestations present.
Bye Bye Mattress is a great resource, developed by the Mattress Recycling Council (MRC), and is a nonprofit organization created to develop and implement statewide mattress recycling programs for states that have enacted mattress recycling laws. If you currently live in California, Connecticut or Rhode Island this database is for you!
Second Chance Recycling in Minneapolis, is one place you may come across as an unexpected and amazing option. They are a powerful social enterprise business renewing the community by employing over 100 people overcoming barriers to employment, turning mattress waste into new products, and supporting a cleaner planet.
You can also check online to explore options for mattress recycling using your zip code and keywords such as, mattress, recycling, pick-up, drop-off, solid waste facility or transfer station. Some facilities may charge a handling fee and others may not.
If you are finding few options in your area, you can take the mattress apart yourself for useful projects.
The box spring can become shelves, a garden box, or any number of wood projects. Stuffing can be used for padded furniture projects and repair, or to make pillows or cushions. Springs can be made into hanging lamps, art sculptures, or recycled for scrap metal. Depending on the materials, wood and 100% cotton can actually be composted to help you build a truly eco-friendly garden.
If your mattress is stained, worn, damaged, or otherwise not a candidate for a better afterlife, you may be just looking for the best way to dispose of it. Often counties, cities, or waste haulers are resources for the best possible disposal. Contact them to find out if they have programs for large item solid waste like mattresses, and ask about pick up. You may be able to set it out as a 'bulk' item with your trash, there may be special pick up days, and some places have special event drop off events. Another resource are 'junk' haulers. If you do just a little research, you can find out which services deconstruct and recycle or ensure items are disposed of in the most eco-friendly way possible.
Do Your Best
Mattresses are something we all have to deal with. They are big, cumbersome, and can be a major source of waste. The most important thing is that you can do is keep yours in good condition as long as possible, and then find the best possible way to send yours off. If it is still in great condition, that means to donate or give it away. If not, find a way to upcycle or recycle. Think carefully when you get the next mattress - think about quality and longevity, as well as recyclability. That way, you can rest easy knowing you have done your best with these large items to minimize their impact on the planet.
Author Taylor Grimes
Taylor Grimes is a contributing author for Donate Good Stuff
Donate Good Stuff exists to help you find the best home for your donation items and we recognize it's just part of the challenge of having too much stuff. How do you declutter what you have, reduce the amount of stuff you bring into your home, and continue to move toward sustainable and environmentally kind living? We can help with that, too. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or subscribe to our newsletter for regular tips and creative ideas for managing your stuff, reducing waste, sustainable living, and being part of a connected community.
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