Old Mattresses are eating up room in our landfills. To be exact, over 300 mattresses and box springs arrive in a single landfill in only a day! This can't be good for our environment. They can't be broken down properly and take up tons of space, but most people aren't quite sure what else to do with them, so that's why they end up in the trash. I'm going to give you a few ideas of what you can do with your old mattress to keep it out of the landfill.

First things first. Don't go buy that new mattress yet. I have terrible back problems and my mattress (which wasn't even that old yet) was getting a saggy spot in the middle. I'd wake up in the middle of the night every night with a horribly painful back, and usually couldn't even finish the rest of the night out. I knew I wasn't in any place to purchase a new mattress, so I decided to try the next best thing. A Memory Foam Mattress Topper. I actually got mine off Craigslist, so it cost me only $20, but this isn't always the best option for everyone. If you do get yours used, just make sure it's from a clean environment and doesn't have a bunch of stains or anything. Even new toppers, however, are much cheaper than a new mattress, and are usually quite compact, easy to get home, and easy to put on. I would recommend purchasing the thickest one you can afford, as it will last you that much longer and get you more relief. I haven't had a bad night sleep since I added my memory foam topper. For $20, it was like I was sleeping on a whole new mattress!

If it's just time for a new mattress, then make sure you're doing everything you can to make the best use out of the old one that you can. Before tossing it out, trying posting it on a freebie site like Craigslist, Freecycle, or DonationTown.org. I know that sometimes these websites can be frustrating to use because of no-shows, but you'll feel great about yourself when a single mom that can't afford that mattress for her kids picks up the one that you were about to toss. Plus, you usually see who your item is going to and it puts a face to who you're helping. If that's not the best option for you, call around to donation centers and see if you can find somewhere that will accept your mattress for donation. While many of the larger organizations won't accept mattresses, look for local non-profits that do. Every night, there are people who go to sleep on the floor and they aren't picky with what kind of mattress they have, just as long as it's a mattress. Many organizations will even pick the mattress up so they can get it to those in need.

If you're handy, you can re-purpose the mattress. Now, this wouldn't be my forte, I'll admit it, but if you do quite a bit around the house in terms of crafts or repairs, it might be right for you. 

  • Buttons and braiding can both be carefully removed and reused for sewing projects
  • Foam padding works well for stuffing pillows or as packing material for fragile items
  • Mattress padding can be carefully removed and re-sewn into pet beds, garden pads, or dish scrubbers
  • Fabric from larger mattresses can be removed in one piece and used as painting drop-cloths or cleaning rags
  • Wood framing can be used for a number of household handyman projects
  • Wire springs are wonderful in the garden since they're so strong. Use them as a trellis, plant support, fencing - the possibilities are endless!

If these options just don't work for you, try recycling your old mattress. Unfortunately, since mattresses are made of so many different materials, they're aren't that easy to recycle yet, but try going to Earth911.com to see if there's a mattress recycling center near you. If not, EcoHaul.com will pick up many household items for a low fee and promise to recycle as much of the items as possible before sending to the landfill. Up to 85% of a mattress can be recycled when broken down properly, so it really does help the environment if you take the extra time to find somewhere that will recycle your old mattress. Wouldn't you rather see that old mattress reused for carpet padding, clothing, fabric, and fuel, then just take up valuable space in a landfill?

Most importantly, if you take care of your mattress you can postpone this whole situation. Flip your mattress every few months (I know it's a pain, but it really will extend the life), don't get it wet, and don't let the kids jump on it!  Remember - every extra day you get out of your current mattress is like money in your pocket!