As co-founder Mark Abrials explains, the company went from idealistic startup to carbon-negativity thanks to strategic partnerships, supplier co-ownership, and setting small but ambitious goals.
“It’s a self-perpetuating race,” says Mark Abrials, co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Avocado Green Mattress, as he describes the company’s rapid trajectory from formation to carbon-negative.
The US-based mattress and bedding company started out as the classic entrepreneur’s response to not being able to find a desired product. However, in just four years, it has developed into a multi-certified, carbon-negative, B Corp-certified business, incorporating co-ownership of its Farm to Mattress™ supply chain.
Avocado was founded in 2016 in Hoboken, New Jersey with only $40,000 by four friends — after one of them was looking for an affordable mattress made from non-toxic, natural and organic materials, but was unconvinced of the credentials of what was on offer. Despite none of the friends having a manufacturing background, they embarked on a mission to create affordable, all-natural, organic mattresses.
With collective experience in marketing, technology, finance and operations, the founders developed the product concept and choose a Los Angeles factory to handcraft the mattresses. The California influence led to the brand name of Avocado, which reflected the idea of the mattresses being “green and lovable,” Abrials says.
Increasing opportunities through co-ownership
After 18 months, the factory in Los Angeles became the fifth partner, merging with the Avocado business.
“Everything is an evolution,” Abrials explains. “We had a ‘green’ brand but it was not on the level that we wanted it to be.” Merging with the factory gave Avocado greater control to embark on its ambitious sustainability journey.
In fact, Avocado has co-ownership of several links of its supply chain. It co-owns the wool collective in the Himachal Pradesh region of northern India that produces the wool used in the mattresses and toppers. Avocado also co-owns an organic latex processing facility in India’s Kochi region — as well as managing over 4,000 acres of latex farms — to make the latex foam cores for the mattresses and toppers.
“We didn’t set out to co-own the supply chain, but it became the logical thing to do,” Abrials continues. “That’s when you can really start to do what you are interested in.”
What Avocado is interested in is becoming the most respected source for organic and natural mattresses, pillows and bedding at affordable prices — while maintaining environmentally conscious, ethical and sustainable business practices across the entire supply chain — to help safeguard consumers’ health while minimizing its footprint.
Assurance through certification
Given that the company was founded in response to a distrust of sustainability claims in the mattress market, it is understandable that certification has become a key focus for the business: “Customers are pretty smart. Everything has to be backed up with a substantial claim,” Abrials insists.
All of Avocado’s materials — including latex, wool, and kapok fiber — are GOTS-certified organic. The mattress and bedding products are also GREENGUARD Gold-certified by UL Environment for low emissions.
From climate neutral to carbon negative
In addition to the certified sustainable sourcing of raw materials, Avocado’s first sustainability initiative was joining 1% for the Planet, where one percent of all revenues are donated to environmental non-profit organizations. Since 2017, Avocado has continued with this initiative — as the business has grown, and through a global pandemic. Abrials recalls: “1% for the Planet introduced us to other things, including Climate Neutral. We were one of the first non-founders to get on board with Climate Neutral and became Climate Neutral Certified in 2019.”
From there, the momentum continued to the next target of becoming carbon negative — creating a mattress that offsets more carbon emissions than it generates. A year later, in April 2020, Avocado achieved that goal — offsetting more carbon emissions than it generated by reducing all the emissions it could, and then offsetting all of its scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.
Avocado offsets the emissions from its factory and product shipping on an annual basis. In 2019, it did this via carbon offsets purchased from Carbonfund; and in 2020, by supporting verified carbon-offset projects through the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Avocado was awarded 1% for the Planet’s inaugural Pinnacle Award in April 2020, in recognition of its environmental responsibility.
“Climate change is becoming more and more of an issue for customers,” Abrials reflects. “The COVID-19 pandemic has radically shifted mindsets. The reduction in emissions means the air feels cleaner and people have become more aware.”
Abrials’ advice to any brand wanting to manufacture a sustainable product is to start small: “You can’t tackle everything at once. Move towards a goal; and then when you are nearly at your goal, start establishing new goals. If you set smaller goals, you can get further,” he says.
With Avocado Green Mattress products making Consumer Reports’ Best Mattresses of 2020 list, customers clearly agree the mattresses are green and lovable.