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Some of us are just at a point in life where we want to keep the comforts we are accustomed to, specifically a good night’s sleep. Of course, the key to a good night’s sleep is the mattress upon which it happens. Some of us like them firm, others springy. We might like pillow tops or memory foam or anyone of the other inventions that have, in recent years, made sleeping much more of an experience than a necessity.

With the need for a good mattress, however, comes the need to occasionally replace the old one. While the question of what feels warm and cozy may have been address with the purchase of a new mattress, a new question remains: What to do with the old one? Each year, Americans throw away some 20 million mattresses, each of which takes up an enormous amount of space.

As landfills are overflowing and the planet is reeling from the amount of waste strewn across it, adding another mattress to that milieu might feel a tad off. Fear not, there are better options out there:

1. Give It Away

While many of us would scoff at the thought of a secondhand mattress, just as many of us would jump at the chance to get a free one. Think about family that might want one, such as nieces or nephews off to college or whoever else might be after a high-quality mattress for the cost of picking it up. Then, there is always The Freecycle Network, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.

old mattress against a brick red wall

Source: madathanu/Shutterstock

2. Donate It

If giving the old mattress away to familiar person doesn’t go well, there is always the option of donating it. Lots of charities with thrift stores—The Salvation Army, Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, etc.—deal in redistributing mattresses in good condition. The rub on this one is that it will need to be professionally cleaned, regardless of it being stain-free and decent. They can’t sell it otherwise, so foot the cost of that (maybe $50) for the good cause and peace of mind.

If the thrift stores won’t take it, consider a shelter. Check into Donation Town for a little help with that. For mattresses that simply won’t make the cut with humans, another kind of shelter—animal—might be the right avenue. Pooches don’t mind a stain or two on something.

3. Recycle It

For mattresses that are simply beyond being used anymore, period, there are organizations that will recycle them. Around 80% of the material in a mattress is recyclable; however, average centers often won’t handle them. A good place to start looking for this solution is, a website at which you can enter your zip code and find nearby mattress recyclers. More than likely, they’ll charge a small fee for picking it up. On that note, sometimes mattress delivery firms will take away the old ones to be recycled if buyers request it.

4. Upcycle It

For crafty, DIY types, there are lots of goodies to be gleaned from mattresses. The fabric can be used for sewing projects, as can the buttons. The stuffing can be pulled out and reused in homespun pillows and cushions. The wood can be used for carpentry projects, and the springs can dazzle someone with a bit of imagination. It might be fun to take the mattress apart and see what you can build from the pieces.


Source: Creative Commons

5. Compost It

Okay, technically, a mattress can’t be composted, but it can be converted into a pretty sweet composting system. The wood slats can be used to create the compost bin, the cover and stuffing can be attached to that to create a cover/lid, and the springs can act as backing, upon which vines can grow. The vines will thrive from the compost fertilizing the ground and beautify the dearly departed mattress. Empty the bin when the compost is ready, and do it all again.

In short, there are several sensible things that can be done with mattresses. Perhaps the most important takeaway of this article, though, is that the one thing we shouldn’t be doing is tossing them into landfills. Like so many other things we are acclimated to flippantly chucking in the dump, mattresses have more environmentally friendly, even humanitarian routes out of your bedroom and back into the world at large. It’s worth a little extra effort.

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