Mattress Disposal: Avoid the Landfill

The average mattress weighs almost 60 pounds and takes up 40 cubic feet of space. Yet nearly 8,000 mattresses are disposed of in American landfills every day. Growing environmental concerns have led many organizations and communities to come together to keep mattresses out of landfills. A three-pronged approach that includes recycling, donating, and repurposing gives consumers options and prevents mattresses from negatively impacting the environment.

Recycle
What surprises most people is that mattresses are highly recyclable. They are made of materials that, once removed, can be used to make any number of items. The parts of the mattress that can be recycled include:

Steel: Innerspring mattresses can contain as much as 25 pounds of recyclable steel. Once removed, the steel can be sold to a recycling facility that will melt it down to make new products like roofing and construction materials.

Wood: A wood chipper makes recycling any wood from a mattress or box spring simple. When broken down, the wood can be used for ground cover or mulch. Some wood can be pulped to make paper.

Foam: There’s a big demand for the high-density foam found in many mattresses. Once removed and shredded, it can be used to make carpet padding, padding for car seats, and gym equipment.

Cloth and Fiber: Mattress covers are made from natural and synthetic fibers that can be cleaned, shredded, and used to make threads for new textiles or melted (in the case of synthetic fibers) to make shower curtains and similar items.

While recycling is the preferred way to dispose of a mattress, at this time, it can be difficult to find a facility or company that will do so. Telluride offers mattress recycling for a small $20 fee. For those further afield, check on websites like Earth911 to find the nearest mattress recycling facility.

Donate
Donating a mattress that’s still in good condition can help others and prevent unnecessary waste. A donated bed should be free from bugs, stains, and tears.

Well-known national charities like The Salvation ArmyHabitat for Humanity InternationalGoodwill, and Furniture Bank Association of America often take mattress donations. However, due to bug infestations in certain parts of the country, some locations may not accept mattress donations. A quick phone call before loading a mattress can save time and money.

For those who don’t live near a national charity, don’t forget to check local second-hand stores, homeless shelters, and women’s/family shelters that might accept donated mattresses.

Repurpose
Sometimes all it takes is a little creativity to keep a mattress out of the landfill. Mattress springs can often be used for creative art projects around the home such as a room divider that doubles as a photo display piece. The springs can be taken apart to make a base for a holiday wreath and other small decor projects.

Foam mattresses can also be used to make and fill bean bags, chair cushions, and pillows or stuffed animal filler. Mattress cover fabric is usually tough and durable enough to be used for rugs in less formal spaces around the house such as the garage, shed, or utility room.

When you are ready to purchase your next mattress, you can look for a more eco-friendly option. There are mattress covers made of organic materials. Plus, natural latex mattresses are made from a sustainable resource, the sap of the rubber tree. This material slowly biodegrades over time, so purchasing a latex mattress may be a way to avoid the landfill in the future.

For more information please contact:

Ellie Porter
Managing Editor | SleepHelp.org
ellie@sleephelp.org

More Benefits Added to Free Weatherization Program

The SMPA IQ Weatherization Program is an energy savings program for low to middle income homeowners or renters, with approval from their landlord. At no cost to participants, EcoAction Partners provides an energy assessment and free energy efficiency upgrades, which can include: LED light bulbs, air sealing, insulation, storm windows, new EnergyStar refrigerator, and now furnace or boiler repair/replacement.

After completing the IQ Weatherization Program, SMPA members are granted a subscription on SMPA’s newest 200-kilowatt Community Solar Array in Norwood. Subscriptions will allow access to a maximum of 2 kilowatts of generation per participant and will last five years after which participants may re-apply. This program will provide convenient access to solar power for income-qualified members, allowing them to save money by tapping into an abundant, local, renewable resource. Best of all, this opportunity is also offered at no cost to the member.
 
In order to be eligible for Black Hills Energy services, participants should apply through the SMPA IQ Program. The SMPA IQ program is sponsored by our local electric provider, San Miguel Power Association, in partnership with Energy Outreach Colorado and Black Hills Energy.

Learn More and Apply for SMPA IQ

Community Composting is Coming to the Town of Ophir!

EcoAction Partners is pleased to be awarded a State of Colorado Resource Recycling Economic Opportunity Grant for composting equipment for the Town of Ophir. This is the first of several neighborhood composting centers that will make up a Regional Composting Network - an EcoAction Partners program that aims to bring composting to the communities of San Miguel County and Ouray County. The goal of creating this network is to reduce waste through composting, recycling, and education. In the town of Ophir, composting will eliminate an estimated 16.5 metric tons of organic waste annually from the landfill.

“Despite Ophir’s high altitude, and more extreme climate, the Town of Ophir is a great partner to launch neighborhood composting”, said Heather Knox, Executive Director of EcoAction Partners. “Ophir is a tight knit community and the residents have expressed a strong desire to compost. They have a committee established to manage the composting operation, and local businesses will provide the appropriate green waste required for the process. I am thrilled to be awarded this grant to make composting possible for the town of Ophir.”

Two composting units will be installed in Ophir’s secure trash enclosure, along with “how to” educational materials and requirements to track data and keep the units functional. This neighborhood composting program will support the community’s goal of reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and becoming more self-reliant.

No landfills or commercial composting centers exist in Ouray or San Miguel counties, an area that covers 1,800 square miles with a population of over 12,000. All waste is hauled to one of two landfills in Montrose County, each approximately 70 miles from the major producers. A waste audit completed in 2016 as a part of EcoAction Partners’ CDPHE ‘Sneffels Waste Diversion Planning Project’ grant found that 35-45% of the approximately 13,000 tons of trash generated in the two counties is compostable waste.

It is estimated that composting 16.5 tons of food waste will reduce 25 metric tons of CO2 equivalent (mTCO2e) annually. Additionally, eliminating the trucking of this waste 70+ miles will decrease emissions by another 12 mtCO2e, bringing the total GHG emissions reduction for the Ophir Composting Project to an estimated 37 mTCO2e annually.

Composting in Ophir will be a first step in the greater plan for the Regional Composting Network in San Miguel and Ouray counties. This program is a goal of the Sneffels Energy Board, a region-wide group coordinated by EcoAction Partners since 2009 working to achieve Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission reduction goals. Results from the Ophir Composting Program will be shared broadly at a local, regional, state and national level, providing vital information on how to effectively and economically compost in small mountain communities.