The Casper Original Mattress is one of the most well-known “new-age” mattresses. It is all foam and comes in a box: no mattress store experience required. You can order these mattresses online like you would a new shirt, or you can get them at Target. This model definitely appeals to Gen-Z and Millennials, who favor convenience and simplicity. I personally have this mattress, and I’m pretty happy with it. It’s firm (which is how I like my mattresses) but comfortable, and I have to say the convenience of buying a mattress at Target should not be underestimated. The Casper brand evokes a new way of thinking about “sleep science” and sleep marketing. Casper wants us to know how much work they put into making the “perfect” mattress. However, they are not so transparent about their supply chain. The mattresses are apparently manufactured in the USA and Canada, but everything other than that is unknown. This is troublesome considering the potentially harmful effects of polyurethane foam production, which is the main component of their mattresses. There seems to be a lot of angry internet discourse about “natural” mattresses. It’s safe to say that there is no 100% natural, safe, and environmentally friendly mattress. There are complications around chemical additives and off-gassing, but even in “natural” latex mattresses, there are “synthetic” additives. The hardest part about obtaining an “eco-friendly” mattress is that mattresses are at least difficult and at most disgusting and unsafe to obtain secondhand. Most people do not want to take their chances. Additionally, there are laws against reselling or donating mattresses, which may be overly strict. The mattress is good, and people rave about it. The Casper brand is new and fresh compared to the dingy mattress warehouses we are all familiar with. Casper is making strides towards a “healthier” mattress (with the CertiPUR certification), but the materials leave something to be desired in terms of sustainability. Unfortunately, there is no perfectly sustainable way to obtain a mattress, and I don’t advocate for sleeping on the hard floor to avoid the foams and polyesters in the mattress world.
The Casper Original Mattress (all-foam model) is made of various polyurethane foams and covered in a fabric cover. The mattress has three levels of different density polyurethane foams (AirScape™ foam, memory foam, and basic polyurethane foam). Polyurethane foams are notorious for being unhealthy because of chemical off-gassing (something scary to think about considering we stick our faces into these mattresses for a third of our lives). Casper mattresses are certified by CertiPUR, which monitors certain chemicals in foams. With this certification, Casper mattresses have no ozone-depleting chemicals, low VOC emissions (less than 0.5 parts per million), no flame retardants, heavy metals, formaldehyde, or phthalates. These chemicals have ranging health effects, from being a possible carcinogen to affecting indoor air quality. This certification does not mean that Casper mattresses are “natural”: they are still made with synthetic foam, which can negatively affect the environment in its production. The other material in the mattress is the fabric cover made of polyester, recycled polyester, up-cycled cotton, rayon, and lycra. All these fabrics (except up-cycled cotton) are synthetic, non-biodegradable, and near impossible to recycle. These synthetic fabrics are used because of their stretch and durability, not their health or environmental effects. According to a Customer Service Representative, there are up to 45 plastic bottles in each cover, but there was no definitive answer about the percentages of each material in the slipcovers. Cotton, bamboo, or wool slipcovers would be healthier and biodegradable, but they are more expensive to produce. A Casper Mattress is not the least environmentally conscious mattress you could sleep on, but it’s not the best either.
There is virtually no information about the production or supply chain for the Casper mattresses. Most of the information is about the “Casper Lab,” where they test the products for comfort and support. According to a Customer Service Representative, the mattresses are “manufactured in the USA and Canada,” and Casper sources materials “from the USA, Canada, China, and Vietnam.” This information is underwhelming and could raise red flags about the environmental and ethical standards under which the mattresses are produced. The tag on the actual mattress says “Assembled in the USA,” which is means it wasn’t actually made in the United States. The supply chain is murky, which is worrisome given the toxic processes needed to make polyurethane foams.
The Casper mattress is a mattress-in-a-box, which has a different shipping and distribution model than traditional mattresses. Casper mattresses can be purchased at Target and Amazon. Casper mattresses could have very efficient distribution methods, considering the mattress boxes are a reasonable and efficient size. It seems that the distribution is much easier to manage than mattresses that have to be shipped flat (especially box springs). Casper has made no initiatives to offset carbon emissions from the transportation of the product. The cardboard boxes can be recycled, but the plastic covering cannot. Casper has partnered with several organizations and shelters to donate returned mattresses to those in need. This is pretty commendable considering most mattresses cannot be returned or donated.
Casper is a new mattress brand, but the original “mattress-in-a-box” brand. Casper’s model is directly related to online shopping culture (a la Amazon) and high tech innovative products (a la Tesla). The Casper mattress really is a “new-age” mattress appealing to the millennials who do not want to go to a mattress store to pick up a sub-par yet expensive mattress. The business is doing incredibly well, with hundreds of thousands of rave reviews and brand endorsements. Casper also capitalizes on affiliate marketing based on content-creators advertising the product and offering discount links. The Casper mattresses are branded as a very thoroughly designed mattress, with a focus on sleep posture and comfort. Casper is endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association as well. The mattresses are reasonably priced, around the same cost as other mattress-in-a-box brands, and are usually less expensive than other memory foam options found in brick-and-mortar mattress stores. Sustainability is not at the crux of the brand identity or mission statement, but they do market that the mattresses are CertiPUR certified and use recycled polyester. However, those claims are not very impressive. Casper does have a flexible return policy, with a 100-day free trial and a 10-year warranty. Casper does donate returned mattresses to homeless shelters, which is pretty impressive. Mattresses are near impossible to donate or resell, so Casper is doing some good. In Casper retail stores, they accept old bedding and pillows for recycling, but there is not much information about how those fibers are recycled. Casper does not have a transparent supply chain: there are no outstanding efforts towards energy efficiency, carbon offsets, or a circular economy model.