Sustainability of Natural Latex

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Natural Latex is made primarily from tree serum called latex. Latex is not sap and harvesting it does not take the lifeblood of the tree contained in the cambium layer. While the trees do not benefit from chemical fertilizers or pesticides, they do require a specific microclimate. They cannot grow here in the US as we do not have their climate, so any US made latex is either a petroleum product or is a product of liquid latex shipped here.

Rubber is not harvested from the wild trees, leaving the jungle intact. Trees are transferred from a nursery to a plantation when they are about three years old. Herein lies the environmental question. Would these monoculture plantations be better if they were polycultures, with a diverse spread of vegetation? For more detail on this subject, this article summarizes an in depth look at the impact of rubber forests.

Hevea Brasiliensis generally has a life cycle of about 32 years. Rubber serum is harvested from the bark of the tree when the tree is 5 years old. It can be harvested twice a week for an average of 25 years, taking 2 months off during the dry season. When the tree is 30 years old, its latex production slows considerably and it is usually cut down. Previously, the trunks were merely used locally and burned as fuel but recently the rubberwood has been recognized as quality lumber and is now shipped worldwide. It has also been called white teak, Malaysian Oak, Plantation Hardwood, and Parawood. It is used to make a furniture, toys, construction timbers and kitchen accessories. The circle of life continues when another sapling is planted in the same spot.

2 thoughts on “Sustainability of Natural Latex

  1. I have auto immune problems. I went to Sleepys and after hearing my story recommended Zuzu from Classic (it is the only bed in the store made in China BUT THEY Said It Passes THE Certipur-US) What is your advice?

    1. If they say the mattress passes the CertiPUR-US certification, then they should be able to show you a certificate with the mattress’s name on it. CertiPUR-US’s standards are here http://certipur.us/for-consumers/.

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