My guest is Marlon Pando, President and Owner of White Lotus Home. We’ll take an “under the covers” look at how natural mattresses and bedding are made, discuss materials, and best choices for various sleeping needs. Marlon worked in his family business until he purchased White Lotus Home, a company that has been making natural and organic bedding in the USA for 32 years. www.whitelotushome.com
TOXIC FREE TALK RADIO
Getting a Good Night’s Sleep on a Natural Bed
Host: Debra Lynn Dadd
Guest: Marlon Pando
Date of Broadcast: May 02, 2013
DEBRA: Hi, I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and this is Toxic Free Talk Radio where we talk about how to thrive in a toxic world. Even if you’ve got toxic chemicals all around you, you can still be well, happy and productive, and not be affected by them if you know what to do.
It is Thursday, May 2nd. I’m here in Clearwater, Florida. And today, we’re going to talk about natural beds and bedding, natural mattresses and how you can get a good night’s sleep.
But first, I want to tell you about a news item that I came across this week, Apples Counteract Chemicals That Cause Cancer. I’m always saying that we’re living in toxic world and we can’t, at this particular point in time, eliminate every single exposure that we have to toxic chemicals. There’s a lot of we can do, particularly at home and then our workplaces, but we can’t eliminate all of our exposures. And so we need to do things that counteract those exposures that we really can’t do anything about.
And one of the things that we can do is just eat apples. But you need to make sure that you eat apples with the peel on because this wonderful ingredient that counteracts the cancer chemicals is in the peel of apples.
And this is the top story on my Toxic Free Nutrition blog today. You can go here and watch the video that explains all the science behind this. And it actually shows the study where they took cancer cells and then they took apple peels and – I don’t remember, mix them with water or something. And then they drop this apple concentrate on the cancer cells and you’ll see the change in the cancer cells.
So this is something that all of us can do. Enjoy apples, but it’s not a glass of apple juice, it’s not a peeled apple, it’s not dried apples without the peels. It’s the apple peel that does it.
Our guest today is Marlon Pando, president and owner of White Lotus Home. We’re going to take an under the covers look at how natural mattresses and bedding is made, discussing materials and best choices for various sleeping needs.
Marlon worked in his family business until he purchased White Lotus Home, a company that has been making natural and organic bedding in the USA for 32 years. And you can go to his website at WhiteLotus.net.
Hi, Marlon. How are you today?
MARLON PANDO: Fine, Debra. Thank you. Thank you for the welcome.
DEBRA: Well, thank you for being on. I just want to tell my listeners that I’ve known Marlon since, I think, he purchased White Lotus Home, and I don’t even remember how long that’s been now because it’s been long enough that I can’t count anymore. And a couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of going to his store in Highland Park where they also make the mattresses and I can tell you that it’s a charming, little town, and he’s got his business in a nice, old, brick building that’s completely non-toxic and they’re making all these mattresses in a very clean space with no perfume, no cigarettes. They’re all handmade. And it’s actually a beautiful process to watch the tufting of these mattresses.
In fact, he’s got a video on the website that shows exactly somebody making the mattresses. It’s like a beautiful dance.
So it’s a very high quality product that that they’re turning out and I think that not only is it high quality, but it’s also some of the most affordable mattress and bedding that you can get at this quality and this purity.
So Marlon, I’m always starting by asking people how did you become interested in doing what you’re doing. What led you to be interested in making a natural, sustainable product, and then why also did you choose mattresses and bedding?
MARLON PANDO: Well sure, Debra. I’ll definitely try to touch on both of those points. Well, basically, I was born in Peru in South America. And there, being green, recycling is a part of life. It’s not even something that’s of a major effort. So coming to the States 30-some years ago, in America you have all these great things and all these great stuff, but I wasn’t too aware of where all this extra stuff, this waste, was going.
And I got my MBA, I started working in Corporate America. I wanted to dig in more and more to see how where everything was going, all the waste. And once I started doing some more digging, I came to the realization that we actually have a big problem in America with all these extra products that we like and get and use and not reuse.
Eventually, the last thing, the trigger was I took a trip to Arizona once and I developed a very high allergy. I actually didn’t think I had allergies. I just got it. And from there on, I started doing more research and digging.
I guess the stars aligned and I had the opportunity to become the general manager of White Lotus Home. And I fell in love with the whole idea of taking this local, green, organic, bedding product and giving them, I guess, another life, if I may say, where we are turning these fibers into natural, sleeping surfaces. I thought it was just a great and wonderful idea that needed to be further exploited.
I guess the last thing, also the whole handcrafting, going back to where I first started in this country, my family owned neckwear factories. I used to work doing that. I actually [inaudible 00:07:54] my first handmade necktie factory when I was 18 years old.
So the whole combination, everything came together very nicely.
DEBRA: Good. Sometimes it just works out that way. As you said, the stars aligned and everything flows and you end up doing everything. And I really believe that you are doing the right thing because I see in you your joy of what you’re doing and the quality of products that you put up.
What are some reasons why people should be sleeping on a natural bed?
MARLON PANDO: Well, I think what’s becoming more apparent to people, without any medical conditions, just people becoming more aware that there are just so many toxic things in our homes. Of course, I get to hear from the folks that are discussing their furniture and their bedding. The first thing that comes to mind when they ask me, “So what is it with my traditional mattress?” And unfortunately, there are laws out there that allow manufacturers of bedding and mattresses to include dozens of many different harmful chemicals.
Of course, the idea is to help them pass some codes and things like that [inaudible 00:09:28] because all these harmful chemicals that were going to cause cancer and allergies, et cetera. But I think that’s the main thing. Once folks find out what is in their current mattresses or bedding now, is when they run towards us.
DEBRA: The most surprising thing for me when I was doing research 20 years ago, when I was first doing the research, was actually insomnia was one of my major symptoms that I had that I was trying to solve. And I wouldn’t sleep all night and then I’d be exhausted all day. And I know there must be millions of people who are having the same experience because isn’t sleeping pills a billion dollar industry, multibillion dollar industry?
So what I found out, quite to my surprise, when I took a little detective work to get this was that – oh, have a commercial break, so I’m going to have to tell you after this commercial.
I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and we’re here today with Marlon Pando, president and owner of White Lotus Home where they make natural fiber bed and bedding right here in New Jersey, USA in a very clean facility, I might add.
Before the break, we were talking about the most surprising thing that I found early in my research about beds and insomnia, and that is if you have just a regular cotton sheet that is treated to be no iron or permanent pressed, or if you have any polyester cotton sheets, it’s treated with a resin that contains formaldehyde. And as you sleep and as you continue to wash your bedding, it continues to release formaldehyde. And so you’re actually sleeping in this cloud of formaldehyde.
Now, it starts off when you have a new sheet with more formaldehyde emissions. And then as it wears, there’s of course less and less and less, but this could go on for years. And one of the symptoms known to be the results of formaldehyde exposure is insomnia.
So I just have this picture of all these people across the country and around the world taking sleeping pills when all they need to do is change their sheets. And not only that but even if you change your sheets, then you go beyond and look at the mattress, some of the toxic chemicals that you find there are polyurethane foam and particularly, fire-retardants, which are required by law so that when you’re smoking and you’re in bed and drop your cigarette, so your bed doesn’t catch on fire. And your bed will catch on fire if you drop cigarette ash or you knock over a candle.
But for all the rest of us who not smoking in bed and have the intelligence to not be knocking over candles in the middle of the night, we’re still being exposed to all those toxic chemicals. And the solution to not being exposed to them is to go to other places that sell natural fiber mattresses and bedding that don’t have these chemicals on them.
So Marlon, tell us. Typically, l know that you have a number of different mattresses that you make from different materials. And we have time today to talk about all of them. So why don’t you tell me and tell our listeners which one you think is – just describe the ones in any order that you’d like.
MARLON PANDO: Sorry, Debra. Do you want me to go over the options we have right now?
DEBRA: Tell us what options you have right now for mattresses.
MARLON PANDO: Well, basically, just to add a little bit to that is that White Lotus Home has been around since 1981. I did take over the company going on eight years now. And since I took over, I saw urgency for offering more than just a couple of type of green or organic mattresses. So after a lot of survey and a lot of feedbacks from our customers, we have come up with, right now, I want to say six different main options. And the reason there is, we want to make sure that we hope that everyone in America is able to afford a green and organic mattress.
Sometimes it gets misinterpreted, but basically, if you wanted a handmade, 100% chemical free mattress, it’s made in the US, we have that for you. If you want that in a firmer, softer, thicker or thinner size, we have that for you.
So while it is a lot to absorb and a lot to research and gain, we wanted to go and become a leader in the green bedding industry. I believe that all the options, again, while I know it can be [inaudible 00:18:18] has been helpful in getting us there.
DEBRA: Let’s talk about them one by one. So let’s start with the one that is most green and describe what that is. What are the materials of them? And anything you want to tell us about. Did you have any difficulties putting that together? Just tell us about that top of the line one.
MARLON PANDO: Sure. Well, if I had my choice, I will have everyone just buy our 100% organic, USDA, organic-certified mattresses. And what happens there is because we all want the best, of course, for ourselves, the only way that we can guarantee – and I’m going to say we at White Lotus (I can’t talk for everyone in the industry), I know everyone is trying to do the right thing. The only way we can guarantee that, what you’re getting is 100% chemical-free, chemical fire-retardant free is by going 100% USDA-certified.
And basically, those mattresses, we hand make them by using 100% USDA-certified organic cotton. We get the layers of cottons on top of each. And if you guys could imagine, each layer is about two inches thick. We pile up 10 to 12 layers on top of each other. Then we compress this cotton with our hands to come up with a mattress that would start at six inches in thickness. We already would make all our mattresses up to nine inches in thickness and we can add our toppers to make the sleeping surface even thicker.
So that would be the ideal when money is not a problem, when just full, healthy, solid sleep is the goal of the customer. That’s what we offer them.
So increased comfort level in 100% organic mattress, we also add things like our evergreen foam, which is a foam that is not petroleum-based, rather special oil-based. We have natural latex also to increase comfort level. We include a layer of wool. Now, what’s new for us, which is great, is that we are able now to get the wool USDA-certified organic as well.
DEBRA: That’s great.
MARLON PANDO: Yes, Debra. I’m sure that’s actually news to you. .
DEBRA: It is.
MARLON PANDO: Surely, we’ve got it and we’re very comfortable with it. It had the testing. It’s been great to be able to offer that.
DEBRA: Okay, we need to take another commercial break. But we’ll hear more about it after the break.
You’re listening to Debra Lynn Dadd on Toxic Free Talk Radio.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. This is Debra Lynn Dadd, and we’re here today with Marlon Pando, president and owner of White Lotus Home. We’re talking about natural mattresses and bedding, and you can visit his website at WhiteLotus.net. You can visit my website at ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com.
Marlon, so we were talking about how you put together a non-toxic, natural, organic mattress. And I think we were in the middle of a list of things that you can add to the basic, organic, cotton mattress to give it various different characteristics and different levels in comfort for different needs.
So why don’t you go on with that list.
MARLON PANDO: Sure, Debra. Thank you. Just to go back a little bit, we were talking about the best organic mattress and what we recommend would be the 100% USDA-certified organic mattress that we handcraft in New Jersey.
So basically, we layer about 10 to 12 layers of cotton bedding on top of each other. And we put them in a 100% organic casing. And it’s all hand-tested, handmade and it would take anywhere from one to four hours to hand make a mattress, though my guys are pretty great at doing this. And we make our mattresses so they can end up about six inches in thickness and we can make all the mattresses be up to nine inches in thickness.
That would produce a semi-firm supported mattress. It’s something that is recommended by back doctors. And we can add toppers and all those fillers to try and meet our customers’ goals and preferred comfort level.
DEBRA: I want to ask you. One your 100% cotton mattresses, well, first I want to say, these aren’t mattresses with springs on them, right? They are what people think as futon. They’re just the fiber and the casing, correct?
MARLON PANDO: They are just pure filling in the case, yes.
DEBRA: Right, and there are no springs in them. So I know in the past that some people, including myself, think of cotton futons, obviously it’s a mattress, we’re not talking about a traditional Japanese futon that’s very thin. But I had a cotton mattress many years ago. The first mattress that I bought was cotton mattress. It was so hard and I just laid it on the floor. It was so hard, I couldn’t sleep on it. So I’d like you to address that because anybody that has that idea that we’re now in 2013 and that’s not the way they are today. So talk about that a little bit.
MARLON PANDO: And I’m glad you touched that actually, Debra, because it is the idea of futon. It’s something that we all remember back in college where [inaudible 00:29:55] place to sleep. But yes, the look of it is that, but it’s certainly not the feel. The way we make our mattresses –
Well, let me go back. Traditional futons are made where they just open a big case and a machine just blows a bunch of polyester and very highly infested fibers in it. Most futons that are sold, that are made, after a few nights of sleep, even maybe a month, it loses everything. It loses the give, it loses the comfort level.
Again, the way we make our products is so that it can last seven, and some folks own our mattresses for over 20 years. And again, the idea is that it has no springs but there are ways for us to get there. And primarily, what we do when we do our pre-organic bedding consultations is we talk to folks and we try to get their moan goal. So just to throw it in there, we do have a toll free which is 877-HANDMADE. And that’s where folks can call and get their free consultations.
What happens is we try to find out what the preferred customer’s comfort level is and also preferred chemical, if any, exposure is allowed. Because if we know that the customer is not going to tolerate any latex, any foam, no matter how green it could be, we do our best not to touch that, not to consider that in our suggestions. This way we are trying to make a perfect match-up which happens about 99% of the time. There are some folks out there that still can’t find a match sometimes. But 99% of our customers had been satisfied since I took over.
DEBRA: It’s really good that you offer that service because I think the people really do need a consultation from somebody who understands the options to get them what they want. That it can be confusing to look at all the different possibilities and know how to match it up with their needs. And you probably would get a better match if you talk to somebody who understands that rather than just trying to buy a mattress of the storeroom floor.
MARLON PANDO: Right, exactly. You mentioned something, insomnia, and actually, my girlfriend (I know she’s listening), whenever she’s over, she just falls asleep. She really falls into death, deep sleep. And I think that on top of everything, we go through our days, to come home to a place that it’s like sleeping in the middle of nature, it’s such a great feeling. I feel like natural bedding can actually help us cleanse our bodies while we breathe all night long. And I think that’s what people are missing.
DEBRA: Well, one of the aspects of detox is that you need to be able to sleep. You need to be able to sleep all through the night in order for your body’s detox system to kick in. So when people are not sleeping or they’re only sleeping a short period, toxic chemicals are building up in their bodies because they’re not getting a good night’s sleep. And I really noticed, I’ve been sleeping on a natural bed for almost 30 years now. And I noticed that when I go away and sleep in a hotel bed or say you’re by somebody’s house that doesn’t have a natural bed, it only takes one night. I just want to say, I love being wherever it is I am but I really want to sleep in my own bed. And when I come back home, I was just away for five nights, and I came back home, and I just felt, “Oh, I love my bed. I love my bed.”
And I just always want to come home. And at the end of the day, when I’m tired, I just go, “Oh, I’m so happy I have a natural bed.”
MARLON PANDO: That’s great! I can relate, you don’t know. I used to love, love traveling. I love traveling. Because of my green consciousness and all, I haven’t been traveling a lot, but those are the one thing I regret. Wherever I can, I drive because I can bring a pillow or more bedding easily. And it just becomes such a hassle.
Yes, I totally agree and relate that when we sleep is the best chances that we have to actually get rid of any toxins. Can you imagine you’re doing this and then you go and sleep on a bed with chemicals? I can see how that could be a big problem.
DEBRA: We’re going to go to another commercial break. And we’ll be right back. You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and my guest today is Marlon Pando, president and owner of White Lotus Home. We’re talking about mattresses. You can visit his website at WhiteLotus.net, where you’ll find affordable, good quality, made in the USA, natural bedding
Marlon, I would just like to, since this is our last segment and we only have a few minutes left, I would like to just describe for our listeners what are the components of a natural bed. And you’re making a mattress that is not the traditional kind of mattress box spring combination. Those are available. But I really like myself, I prefer what you’re doing because there’s no metal and I don’t want to go into the whole story about electromagnetic fields. But suffice to say that some people think that even lying in bed with the coils of the bed that can increase your exposure to electromagnetic fields. I, myself, have a wool mattress that is like the ones that you make, which I purchased before I even knew you. I’ve had it a very long time. And I have it on a wood slat frame which allows it to breathe. And then I also have, you mentioned toppers a couple of times. I just want to explain because people don’t know what a topper is. It’s a big pillow, or like a mattress, but it’s very thin.
How thick is this topper? A couple of inches?
MARLON PANDO: Yes. They start about an inch-and-a-half up to three inches in thickness.
DEBRA: I like to say that if you can’t replace your whole entire bed now, the thing to start with is a topper. How many are your toppers, like wool toppers? A couple of hundred dollars? A hundred dollars?
MARLON PANDO: They start at early 200s actually for a twin size.
DEBRA: So I have the experience a few years ago of needing to be in San Francisco for three months. I rented a furnished studio apartment which came with a regular toxic bed. And it was extremely uncomfortable even though I brought my cotton flannel sheet. I could still feel the bed, the synthetic bed, underneath the sheets.
And so I just went to a local natural bed store in San Francisco and got myself a wool topper. I put it right down on the synthetic bed and it made all the difference in comfort. I had my topper, I had my flannel sheets, I had brought my wool pillow with me and I slept really well.
So a good way to get started is to just get a topper, get a natural pillow, and get the natural sheets. And if you just start buying those pieces one by one as you can afford them, then you can always use them on your natural mattress when you get to that point.
You need to have a frame, and you need to have a mattress, and then a topper. I will actually admit I had three toppers on my bed. And I like having the layers because rather than getting a thicker mattress, I don’t know how thick my mattress is. I think it’s six inches. And then I had three toppers. And then I can take the bed apart and take it and put all the pieces out in the sun or shake the dust powder whenever I want. And then I have my cotton flannel sheets, and then I have my wool pillows.
Those are basically the parts of the natural bed.
MARLON PANDO: Yes. Those are all the main parts. Unless, you have a few more than [inaudible 00:42:57], I can understand why.
DEBRA: Is there anything that you particularly would like to talk about in these final few minutes that we haven’t already covered?
MARLON PANDO: I think we covered a lot. I guess because we have to wrap it up, I understand. But the idea of going green, of course, ideally, you just [inaudible 00:43:27] and you are able to pick and choose and to start from scratch. But I am with you that a topper it’s a great, great step up. There are also ways to take your current mattress or bedding, maybe [inaudible 00:43:42]. As you know, we also sell organic barrier cloth, which can be used now. Either way, that fabric is tight-woven and it doesn’t let anything get in and out. So it’s great for dust mites, allergies, and things like that.
We’re starting to see a peak in sales in all our barrier cloth products. People are taking their current mattresses and just buying big covers for them and things like that.
Again, I agree with you that a topper is a great step-up. Folks, of course, we would like to start from scratch. But when you can’t, it just doesn’t make it an offense to do that. A topper on top of your mattress is great. You can always just cover your mattress with something, again, like to cover up the moss from anyone that would sell you an organic or natural cover. Just add in a topper.
And we do have four different types now from all wool, organic, cotton. We do the natural latex topper. We do evergreen foam toppers.
So there are many options. When you mentioned traveling and things like that, Debra, we also have now our guest bed that you roll them up. It’s still 15, 20 pounds or more [inaudible 00:45:02]. But it’s something that you can definitely put in a trunk or maybe, if possible, have it mailed to you. It would be so costly to ship it back if you’re going long-term…
DEBRA: What a good idea! I didn’t know you have all these things. You keep adding all these products.
MARLON PANDO: Yes, we’ve been pretty busy. I mean, I think God that since I took over White Lotus, we were two small stores in Jersey and now, we have over a hundred stores that carry our products all over the country via online and actual brick and mortar stores. So there’s a [inaudible 00:45:36] locations of people that carry White Lotus Home products all over the country.
And with that expansion came new products. The great thing about our market, Debra, that it’s so new that we are able to test the waters first before we bring a product fully on. Once we get a certain amount of request for something, we try to see how we can make it in a nice, cost-friendly way.
And the guest bed has been one that – we call them stow-aways. If you look at them on our site, it’s something you can roll up, put in a closet or even just tuck under a bed. And some folks actually do. They buy double bags or whatever from us and they keep them in their car when they’re traveling.
So it’s a nice way to be able to take your natural bed with you so you get a nice, green, clean place to sleep on.
DEBRA: You also sell furniture like wood slat beds, but you also sell furniture so that you can convert your mattresses to things like sofas and things like that.
MARLON PANDO: Right. Definitely! I’d definitely touch up on that. But I just want to touch a little bit. Folks that are not able to come to one of the stores so they can test things out, I just want to let them know that, again, we have a store locator online. We also offer free fiber samples. And I know this is [inaudible 00:47:00], especially probably your listeners, Debra. I just want to thank you. A lot of folks do call us, come to us, mention your name and we are very grateful for you. I’m just letting you know.
DEBRA: Thank you. I appreciate that.
MARLON PANDO: Sure, sure. I saw what you’re doing. It’s wonderful. We do offer them free fiber samples. We mail it so they can have it tested or [inaudible 00:47:27] doctors.
We also offer samples of our mattresses that people can buy online and [inaudible 00:47:35] with their purchase of the original mattress. We are looking up ways to get the word out and get the items out to folks as much as possible.
DEBRA: I do see that and especially I have known you over time and so I can see your consistency and your dedication that you really are there to serve the customers. And you even do custom work. And people can buy your materials from you and make their own if they want. So you really are giving the full spectrum of every possible thing that I can think of that one might need in a supplier of natural materials and natural mattresses.
MARLON PANDO: Yes, yes. Thank you. Definitely! Selling the fiber has been great. People are doing their own projects. Great! I mean, I’m already content where were are with this company. My family is too. They got my back all the way. I always have to thank my sister, Elizabeth, who’s always there, and my nephew, [inaudible 00:48:36]. If you can see pictures, they’re always up on the web. We take pictures of them and use them as our models.
But we’re at a place that we want everyone to hopefully that more and more people will be able to sleep naturally and organically without major cost and major hassle. You never know. One day, there may be a White Lotus store in every city in the United States. That will be great.
DEBRA: That would be great. Okay, we’ve come to the end of our time. Thank you so much for being with us. And I want everybody to just go to WhiteLotus.net website and take a look at what they have. And particularly, look for the video of the tufting of the mattress.
I actually saw someone doing that in person in the store. It’s just a beautiful sight. I think of that, not only are they great materials, but it’s all handmade and not an industrial process, but a human process.
So this is Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. You can go to my website, ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com and there are information about other shows. There are archives. You can find out about other things on my website. And tune in again. ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com.