You may be surprised to learn that Americans dispose of about 20 million mattresses every year.
This quickly becomes a problem when you take into account the ever-dwindling spaces in landfills. A single mattress may occupy as much as 40 cubic feet worth of space.
Together, these mattresses end up taking over 340,000 square kilometers of space in landfills.
It is up to mattress owners to play a more proactive role in taking care of their environment. The goal is to find more eco-friendly means of disposing of old mattresses so it doesn’t become an issue.
This guide will explore a few helpful tips for properly discarding old mattresses, such as donating, reselling, reusing, and recycling.
Junk Removal Services
If you don’t have access to recycling centers or thrift stores that accept used mattresses, then perhaps hiring junk removal services is the best course of action.
An obvious choice is to enlist the help of national companies that offer services throughout the country. Their first course of action is to either donate or recycle used mattresses before dumping them in landfills.
Some companies focus on eco-friendly disposal methods to conserve space in landfills.
Here’s what you should know about hiring a junk removal specialist to dispose of a used mattress:
- Check to see if your warranty offers a warranty or complimentary disposal or buy-back services on the used mattress. If it is available, make sure to get in touch with them on the phone.
- Many junk removal specialists will charge you based on volume and weight, so it may be worth your while to calculate the weight of your mattress to negotiate affordable rates.
- Research as many local and national junk removal companies in your area as possible. Run a cost comparison to identify the most affordable and eco-friendly option. You may have to pay extra for pickup services at your home.
Recycling the Mattress
Up to 90% of most mattresses can be recycled and repurposed to create different products. Components of the mattress that are recyclable include the foam, springs, wooden parts, box spring, and the upholstery.
Most people recycle their used mattresses by sending them to a recycling center that specializes in them.
A simple search on Google or Bing using your zip code should reveal a nearby location. You could also try online aggregators like Earth911 and Bye Bye Mattress to quickly find recycling centers that accept mattresses in your local area.
Most companies will charge a small fee for recycling used mattresses plus a few extra dollars if you arrange for home-based pickups at $30 to $50 per mattress.
You can save money by transporting the mattress yourself to the nearest recycling center in your car.
Many recycling companies lay down their criteria for accepting used mattresses. For the most part, they will not accept mattresses that are stained or wet or show signs of bed bug infestation. However, you should face no problems in recycling torn or broken mattresses.
A few states have laid out legislation for mattresses that retailers have to follow before selling them.
For instance, Connecticut, Rhode, and California require sellers to charge all their customers additional fees when buying a new mattress. These fees are used in:
- Purchasing materials and containers used at recycling centers
- Facilitation of recycling and donation drives
- Incentivizing payments to personnel in recycling centers
- Transporting mattresses to recycling centers
Make sure to check out Bye Bye Mattress to learn more about laws in your area.
Areas of the Mattress That Can Be Reused
- In this section, we will explore how you can reuse certain components of your mattress for different purposes.
- Most mattresses are made of polyurethane foam. This can be removed and then remodeled for other purposes such as pillows, car seat cushions, carpeting, various types of padding, and even pet padding. This is also true for latex and memory foam.
- It isn’t unusual for mattresses to contain about 12 kg of steel, most of which is concentrated in the springs. This valuable metal and steel can be sold for scrap. The steel is repurposed into other products and components. You may have to find a local metal recycler or scrap yard in your neighborhood. The going rate for metal parts varies from $10 to $100 per kg depending on the material.
- Some mattresses are made up of various natural fibers such as wool, silk, cotton, and non-natural fibers like rayon and polyester. Both natural and synthesized fibers can be easily recycled and repurposed into various products such as insulation and padding.
- Mattresses are usually placed on top of a solid base which is made up of upholstered wood, which can be repurposed to serve various functions if taken apart. This includes use as lawn mulch, firewood, and even carpentry projects.
- Most small metal parts such as nails and screws could be preserved for future home improvement projects or sold for scrap.
- It also makes sense to pull off any decorative features from your mattresses, such as the braiding and buttons, and then use them for home décor if possible.
- Make sure to be vigilant during disassembly of your used mattress since it is made up of sharp objects and powerful springs that could cause bodily harm. It may help to watch a few YouTube tutorials on how to take your mattress apart safely and skillfully.
Things You Can Do with Your Old Mattress
There are a few things you can do with your old mattress.
The springs in your mattress can be used for a wide range of home décor projects. These include use as plant holders, in photo frames, as backyard trellises, and even wall sconces.
If you’ve got memory foam, you could use it to make a very comfortable bed for your pet. Of course, you can repurpose the old foam into comfy household items like chair cushions, dishwashing sponges, bean bags, stuffed animal fillers, and pillows.
And if you want to get creative, you could use the upholstery for making throwaway rugs for your garage or shed.
If you’re a garden enthusiast, you could use your old mattress components as a makeshift compost pile for the backyard. The mattress foam and fibers can be spread around the compost to prevent pests from infiltrating it.
Donating to Those That Need Them
The average mattress can be used for up to eight years.
This doesn’t mean that the mattress should be burnt to a cinder or buried under endless rubbles in a landfill, if it is reasonably good condition, you can donate it to a charity that accepts used mattresses.
Here are a few organizations that accept used mattresses:
The Salvation Army
This international charity group has been helping struggling families since the 18600s and now operates various thrift stores across America.
What’s more, they offer free home-based pickup services for mattress donations. Of course, you could drop them off to a nearby location if that is feasible.
To get accepted, the used mattresses must be free of any wear and tear or obvious signs of damage.
Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI)
HFHI is a popular charity organization that aims to provide affordable living to those in need. They sell used mattresses at various “ReStore” centers around the country. Simply call your nearest ReStore center to let them know you’ve got a used mattress waiting to collect. They also offer free pickups in certain locations.
Goodwill charity provides employment placement services and job training for workers who face difficulty landing jobs in the market. They also operate over 3,100 donation centers and thrift stores around the country. Goodwill only accepts components and parts in used mattresses including mattress pads, bedding, upholstery, bed frames, etc.
Furniture Bank Association of America (FBA):
The FBA was created to provide home furnishings to struggling families. Most of their donation centers are located in North America. They accept old mattresses and also offer pickup services so long as your home lies within 20 miles of their location. Contact them to see if home-based pickups are available in your area. The FBA does make exceptions for larger donations.
Signs You Should Dispose of Your Mattress
Just because your mattress has been in use for over 10 years doesn’t mean you should dispose of it. There are a few telltale signs that it’s time to replace your mattress. These include:
- You or your partner still feels tired after eight hours of sleep on the mattress.
- The mattress has extensive damage done to it.
- Lots of bed bugs.
- The foam tends to sag towards the center.
- You feel that your couch provides much better sleep.
- Your mattress has been in use for over 8 years, and you can’t recall when you bought it.
If your mattress is worn out, you might be able to get a free replacement or repairs. Most reputable companies offer 5, 10, 15, or 20 years of warranty, with various stipulations and limitations.
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