Archives for August 2013

On My Way: A New Mattress

A chemical free living space comes up in the number two position in Pamela Reed Gibson’s, peer reviewed study, Perceived Treatment Efficacy for Conventional and Alternative Therapies Reported by Persons with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), published in Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), September 2009 issue; ergo, making the creation of a chemical free living space one of the best actions you can take (after practising the avoidance of chemicals to which you are sensitive to) to improve the state of your health. (The same applies for people who have chemical allergies, inhalant allergies, chemical sensitivities, Environmental Illness (EI), Environmental Sensitivities (ES): semantically, these are one in the same, therefore, the treatment is the same. (In Australia, there is no medical definition for this type of illness. Well there is; sort of: my treating doctor calls it inhalant allergies. I’ve been tested using various chemicals, and deemed allergic/chemically sensitive to them. But generally (apparently), there is no MCS in Australia, even if many people do suffer with it. Oxymoronic, yes?)

An extensive part of creating a chemical free living space is changing the area where we sleep: our beds, our pyjamas (our bed partners?!). For me, rather than flirt with ideas, trying them out to see if they worked or not, after finding the right property and making sure it was safe for me, I went straight for what I know works: a mattress made from certified organic cotton, made right here, in Victoria, by Organature, Australia.


One of the first things I did, after buying a hammock and experiencing the pure materialistic nakedness of sleeping out in the wild (okay, we know that it wasn’t actually out in the wild or while naked, it was out on a balcony while wearing cotton pjs!) was to purchase another one of these beauties from Organature. My challenge being that, this time, I had very little time, or place for that matter, to air it, out of the weather. (It’s not the smell that’s a problem; and there are no irritants, allergens, or chemicals in the materials that needed out-gassing, but as many of my readers know, when my sinuses are inflamed, breathing around any odours can be painful. However, there is good news in this post, that problem is diminishing into the background of my life! Still, at the time, before I recovered to this point, I had to air it just in case.) Now, Cotton absorbs moisture easily, and unless the sun comes out the next day to ‘wick’ away that moisture, mould can and will grow…

This dilemma was solved by the owner of Organature, Peter Byl’s son, Micheal, who kindly offered to air it in a bright sun-lit spare room of his house. Due to allergies, and chemical sensitivities in the family, he’s acutely aware of the basics needed to sustain a healthy life for a person who has this type of immune disfunction disorder: a low irritant, low allergy house! For him that means floorboards, and not using any artificial fragrances or petrochemical based personal care or cleaning products. Now this is not just due to his own allergies, or his father’s chemical sensitivities; no, the family have staked their business on making sure their whole lives are as free from chemicals as possible. Not just the chemicals that are problematic to them, but due to large and growing numbers of people in their customer base, they avoid most of the chemicals that are known irritants to human health. Now that’s what I call an ethical business!

Here is my mattress, once it was delivered (way back in March, 2013):
One Innerspring Organic Cotton Mattress from Organature

One Innerspring Organic Cotton Mattress from Organature

It aired for two days. Two. Days. And then bought it inside, did my usual trick of leaving it (all new items get this treatment) in the room overnight while I slept, then being fine with it (like I knew I would be), it became my new cushioning for my dream pod. (The reason I don’t have my other mattress, the one I blogged about here, at this new rental property, is I’m still trying to remediate items from the house of mouldy horrors. Dare I say, come next summer, when I can air that one too, and vacuum it, then I’ll give using it a go. Besides, I need it to sleep on when I’m back at that house two days a week, doing a zillion loads of washing, and, sometimes staying there overnight after or before going to Uni (depending on how my health is. I know, staying in a mouldy house when I’m already not feeling well is just plain dumb; but driving when not well is around forty-nine shades dumber.).

During the transition from sleeping in my cotton hammock, outside my new abode, to sleeping inside the house, I used a fold out camping bed for a couple of weeks. Now, my back was not as sore as what it was from when my dog jumped up into the hammock, in the middle of a cold night, crushing my hip (the type of pain that fades away once you have a good ol’ stretch and a long beach walk), but it was still not an ideal sleeping arrangement compared to having a good snooze on a real mattress—sans dog or not.

(Also, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be okay living in this house, there are a few things I’ve had to sort out, but nothing of any major concern, and certainly no mould issues; and that my dear readers, is a beautiful thing. I’ve had success in improving my health, and, as you can see in this post, I’ve had a lot of help. I can’t state clearly enough how important living in a clean, low-chemical emitting house is for a person sensitive to chemicals. Whatever it is that you’re reacting to, you need to get yourself tested and then find a way to avoid those irritants causing symptoms. And, as my treating immunologist pointed out to me at the start of this discovery (9.5 years ago), low chemical bedding and pjs are a necessity, and as well as those, a low chemical living space (and along with that advice, he printed out this study for me). And with these, my conclusion: bedding is the beginning of finding ones way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities!)

In the photo above, you can see that it’s wrapped in plastic but you can also see (look down the bottom of the image) that it’s also wrapped in a large cotton bag, which (and you can’t see this in the picture) has a draw string sewn into the top. This is how Organature deliver the mattresses. First it sits inside the cotton bag (which is also made from organic calico cotton and has many future uses—think curtains, camping sheets or anything else you are handy at sewing), then it’s slid into a thick plastic bag. Mine came in two bags. I don’t have any problems with plastic, thanks be to the wild unicorns that roam our fine earth (oh, sorry, that’s in the short story that I’ve been working on), but I do have problems—symptoms bought on—with exposure to petrochemicals, with diesel being the worst. So that’s why Organature took such great care with the delivery. And I was so, so chuffed to be able to use it within two days of it arriving.

From pack up to your door, the mattresses, and any other bedding ordered, are handled by people who are not wearing fragrance chemicals or anything that has come out of an aerosol can.

The cost:

One single mattress, cotton cover, summer quilt used as mattress protector

Mattress: $890
Cover: $57
Quilt: $120
Total: $1067
Delivery to somewhere far away: $100
I’ve bought many things from here, so they gave me a 10% discount on the bedding. (If only I could have bought more!) You can find out more about Organature bedding’s prices here. And for all you bargain hunters out there, they even have some treasures for you!

New, from Organature: Hardwood Bedframes, Futons and Bedside Tables (available painted in Livos or just plain butt naked)

Source: via The-Labyrinth on Pinterest

The transition from sleeping outside in the hammock to sleeping inside was made on a fold-out camping bed (for lack of no other bed), I had time to order the mattress and would’ve had time to air it for longer if needed. But I had no idea if I would be okay living here. I had a hunch. And a gut feeling. Besides, I knew I was okay outside, so that was a start; but there were a few small things that needed taking care of inside, and once these were, then I was pretty sure this was the place for me. And, even if it’s not absolutely perfect (what rental property is?), I can, and have made it work. It’s a dream come true…

And, although to start with, sleeping outside, was improved on by moving indoors and onto a camping bed, it still wasn’t an ideal sleeping arrangement  sans dog or not!

And, guess what? The dog is on her own blanket, sitting at the end of my bed right now! There’s actually no getting away from her…

Mattresses in the US

San Francisco, Los Angeles, Berkley and  New York

Nesting Instinct: Bedding Options for the Chemically Sensitive

“In the US, Mattress and bedding companies recommended by those with environmental illness include: Furnature, Green Nest, Heart of Vermont, Janice’s, Lifekind, Natura, Royal-Pedic, Savvy Rest, Soaring Heart, The Clean Bedroom, and Tomorrow’s World.”

Click here to visit for more fantastic tips

Further Links:

Organature (Kindly, Organature have been know to send out samples of materials they use so that people can test to see if they are okay with them before outlaying  money on a mattress.)

Blessed Earth wool mattresses available online, and in QLD, Australia. (Blessed Earth will send out samples of the materials used so that people can see if they are okay with them).

Bedding in Dallas that may be suitable for people sensitive to chemicals

Natural Sleep Store, organic mattress showroom, Denver, Colorado, US

Nesting instinct: Bedding for the chemically sensitive an excellent article with lots of lateral-thinking ideas for bedding options

A Safe Bed to Sleep In: J. Camphill an excellent article with ideas for people who cannot tolerate cotton

Another article about Organature

A bed made from cardboard

Cot vs traditional mattress for sleeping: Allergic to Life: My Battle

Dr. Grace Ziem’s Environmental Control Plan for Chemically Sensitive Patients: Controlling Exposures in your Bedroom

The Importance of Safe Housing: Seriously “Sensitive” to Pollution Environmental Health: Living With MCS/ES

Why I chose a Latex Mattress: Sarah Wilson

Did You know: If you live in the US and have trouble with organic cotton, it may be a mould issue, but, my Australian-organic-cotton-manufacturing sources tell me, it could because organic farmers over there grow cotton and peanuts using the crop rotation method. Therefore, if you are highly allergic to peanuts, then they are most likely contaminating the cotton!

What do you sleep on?

Are there any tricks you’d like to share with the ever-growing-and-increasing-amount of newly sensitive people who come across this page?

Sleeping rough, especially when already ill, can be awful, hey? I’ve heard some tragic tales, and some amazing, inspiring think-outside-of-the-proverbial-bubble solutions, too! Please share yours…

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

Baking Soda

One of the questions I get asked a lot by people who are not sensitive to chemicals is: [eyebrows raised] [voice high-pitched with panic] “How do you clean your home? Well, the answer is, I use Sabco cleaning cloths and kits, they have special cloths for glass areas, drying surfaces, and even dust magnet mitts; a Dyson handheld vacuum, for the car and tiny clean ups; a Dyson Barrel Vacuum, the Animal one (I’ll blog more about this later); Herbon Fragrance Free Dishwashing Liquid, which I use to wash the car, the floors, anything that needs hot soapy water, and yes, even the dog; Herbon Fragrance Free Surface Spray, which contains Ethanol, therefore, it’s used sparingly, but if I need to give an area a good clean, that’s what I (or whichever people I rope in to do it for me) use (when I recovered a while back, it wasn’t a problem but last year when my health crashed, using it caused hell on my sinuses, but hey, if a woman needs to clean, whack on a mask, get out the gloves and get to it, I always say!); zeolite powder and granules, used to absorb chemical vapours and odours outgassing from various areas; vinegar, an all round disinfectant, anti-mould deterrent and toilet cleaner (it’s relatively cheap; we go through a couple of litres a week, in between the cleaning and clothes washing–makes a great fabric softener too) and of course, good ol’ bicarbonate of soda, which we use for everything!

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

This Blogger’s Absence

Glass Washed up On Our Shores

Glass Washed up On Our Shores

I’ve been busy. Busy getting published. Busy writing. Busy interviewing. Busy trying to sort out my mould effected possessions. Busy sorting out family issues while living one and a half hours away. But most of all, busy healing myself. But even more than any of those things, I’ve been busy walking on the beach. Even in the rain. Everyday.

Recently, on Lord Howe Island, the discovery was made that pollution made up of plastic bits and pieces: Coca Cola lids and parts of their bottles, plastic bags, fishing paraphernalia, parts of thongs and so much more of society’s jetsam, was ending up on the shores of the beach and, cruelly, much of this found its way into bird’s stomachs.

Where I walk, on the beaches of the Bellarine Peninsula and the Surf Coast, there is a lot of glass. And birds. Heaps. So much so, I’m doing my bit for the environment by collecting them, bringing them home and placing them in glass vases.

Like this:

Jetson and Flotsam

Jetsam and Flotsam

Sea glass art!

(What’s amazing about all this beach walking is that after all the treatments I’ve tried, it’s only this simple pleasure that’s had the biggest, positive impact on my health. Clean air is truly amazing.)

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

Information, products and views presented by guest bloggers @The Labyrinth are not necessarily the same as those held by this blog's author, Michellina van Loder. Reviews are my own personal opinions (unless stated otherwise); and satire is used throughout personal posts. Any health topics discussed are not to be taken as medical advice. Seek out medical attention if needed and do your own research; however, you're welcome to use mine as a start.
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