We spend about a third of our lives in bed. About 90% of our time is spent inside. But according to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air can be about five times more polluted than what’s outside. A major problem? The chemicals in your mattress.
Mark Abrials wanted his family to get a good night’s sleep, and for him that meant creating a mattress what was made without toxic chemicals — and also aided in the fight against climate change.
Enter Avocado. Avocado’s CMO and Co-Founder, Mark pairs his extensive media experience with his passion for sustainability to usher in the world’s first Climate-Neutral Certified mattress brand. Avocado serves as a model for other aspiring entrepreneurs, grappling with how to nurture their entrepreneurial spirit while creating a positive impact.
I had the pleasure of talking to Mark about the threat to our climate — and the hope for its future, the challenges of creating a company committed to doing good, and why always, always getting a good night’s rest will boost your personal wellness so you can help save the world.
Beth Doane: Avocado is one of a kind, and originated from you wanting to make a difference. Can you explain your journey?
Mark Abrials: Traditional mattresses are often full of junk — toxic glues, nasty flame retardants, VOC-emitting foams. We wanted to create a mattress that was safe for our families, safe for the environment and was something that people could actually afford.
Unfortunately, most truly organic mattresses are extremely expensive. But by owning our own farms and cutting out the middlemen in the supply chain, and by selling directly to our customers, we’re able to offer entirely organic mattresses that meet the highest standards of comfort, durability, and safety — all at an affordable price. And as the first Climate-Neutral Certified mattress maker, and now as a carbon negative company — we reduce more greenhouse gases than we produce — we’re doing it in a way that’s true to our B Corp Certification, seeking a true balance between purpose and profit. Nobody else is doing that.
Doane: How is Avocado seeking to not just change our sleep, but help change the world?
Abrials: The climate crisis is here. We believe business must be a part of the solution. That’s why, in 2019, Avocado became the first mattress company to become Climate Neutral Certified. Avocado works with Climate Neutral to reduce its emissions, then we measure and voluntarily offset more than 100% of our emissions, from resource extraction to shipping, by supporting carbon offset projects through the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Our offset projects help mitigate climate change and support innovation in addressing greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
But we don’t stop there. We also know that solving the climate crisis will require systemic changes. That’s why we lobby lawmakers and advocate for legislation that will help protect people and the planet.
Doane: When did you first know you wanted to make a difference through your company or your work in the world?
Abrials: We knew from the start that we wanted Avocado to be a force for good. As the company has evolved, so too has the scope of our sustainability mission. We continue to push our commitment to the intersectionality of environmental and social responsibility on which we founded the company.
We became the first carbon negative mattress company on the planet — 20 years ahead of the target set by the Paris Agreement. We also became a certified B Corporation with a score of 126.2 — well ahead of the 80 point threshold. And we set a new standard for 1% For the Planet members — the organization named Avocado its inaugural Pinnacle Award winner. We’ve donated millions of dollars to support 30-plus nonprofits that address their core mission and our commitment to carbon neutrality.
We know the issues we face are not going anywhere. The real work of building a fair, equitable, sustainable company — and planet — is a lifelong endeavor for us.
What is the most challenging thing you have faced while founding Avocado?
There will always be a tension between profit and purpose. You can’t be an agent for change — for sustainability, social responsibility and transparency — if you can’t keep the lights on. But we believe we’ve found that balance. At the end of the day, we know that in order to continue to raise the bar for sustainability, we also have to offer products that raise the bar for excellence.
Doane: Wellness is clearly very important to you. How has practicing it helped you in your personal life?
Abrials: It’s easy to feel disconnected and even isolated today. Practicing wellness helps me feel centered, and gives me focus, energy, and a sense of purpose.
What are three wellness tips you can share with our readers that you swear by?
Abrials: For me, it’s all about variety. I love to mix up my routines so they don’t get boring. With that in mind, I’ll mix cardio, like rowing and Peloton, with road biking and walking. Eating a balanced diet is also essential to me. And, naturally, I’m deeply aware of the mental and physical benefits of a good night’s rest, and that’s always a priority for me.
Doane: What quote most inspires you?
Abrials: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi