As I’ve mentioned before...we don’t throw out very much. So when I was faced with possibly having to take an ancient mattress to the dump, I felt a little knot in my stomach. I had almost resigned myself to throwing it out (I was sick of squeezing past it while it sat in our front hall) until one day I had an epiphany.
I recalled a presentation I had seen at an SWRC Forum about mattress recycling. The company took the matresses apart manually and recycled the components. If they could do it, why couldn’t I? There was a loose section along one of the edges (did I mention how ancient the mattress was?) so I ripped it open a bit more and here’s what I saw:
Nothing more than metal, cotton, jute and fabric. I could find things to do with those!
Here’s what it looked like while I dissected it. It wasn’t too difficult really. All I used was a box knife and some gardening gloves...and a little ‘help’ from my son Holden.
Dismantling it, on our hot sunny deck, took me a good two hours or so.
The largest volume by far was unrefined cotton (in the two garbage bags). At the very least I could compost it. And, if need be, I could use a bit for fire starter in our fire pit.
The next most bulky part was the sisal fiber. It looked just like the coconut fiber I have seen in hanging plant baskets. There are all sorts of ways to use it in my yard and garden as a natural weed screen (like a landscape cloth).
The fabric cover came off in two large pieces. These I put in with other things destined for value village. They recycle fabric that can’t be sold.
And, lastly, was the metal frame, which I took to a scrap metal recycler.
I’m sure that contemporary mattresses are much more synthetic, and probably more difficult to deal with on a personal scale - but thanks to the natural materials in this one, I’ve dodged this landfill bullet.
Update on Mattress Recycling (August 26, 2013)
SWRC member Joan Harrison was inspired by my mattress recycling post. She was faced with cleaning out an old barn on her farm which had, amongst its many 'treasures,' some old mattresses and box springs. Joan knew just what to do! She got out a utility knife and stripped down the box springs. Metal was sent for recycling, wood set aside for burning, sisal fiber saved for gardening. Way to reduce waste, Joan!