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):
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.
One single mattress, cotton cover, summer quilt used as mattress protectorMattress: $890Cover: $57Quilt: $120Total: $1067Delivery to somewhere far away: $100
New, from Organature: Hardwood Bedframes, Futons and Bedside Tables (available painted in Livos or just plain butt naked)
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
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.”
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
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…