COCO-MAT. Sleep on nature.

February 15, 2012 in Recycling

COCO-MAT, based in Athens, Greece, makes idyllic mattresses using 100% natural raw materials from sustainable sources.  Moreover, COCO-MAT does not use metals nor chemicals, and during the manufacturing process, COCO-MAT recycles 96% of waste products (re. converting leftover coco fibre into slippers).

“If there is a purpose in nature, it is not to serve mankind, but to ensure the perpetual reproduction of all.” Theophrastos, 371 B.C.

This ancient philosophy drives COCO-MAT’s mission to use sustainable techniques and rely on raw, natural materials instead of synthetic or artificial substitutes.

In order to create the ultimate healthy and comfortable experience for when you fall under the spell of Morpheus, the specific materials that COCO-MAT uses are coconut fibre, horsehair, natural rubber, linen, seaweed, wool and cotton, goose down, and cactus fibres.

These material are chosen for their various qualities – elasticity, durability, humidity absorption, temperature control, ventilation, and in the case of seaweed, traces of iodine and other natural elements are present, providing protection against allergies, asthma, and respiratory problems.

The Iraklis mattress is made using coco fibres, horsehair, and seaweed.

COCO-MAT makes furniture (all-wood) as well as sleep products, and names all product lines after ancient Greek legendaries, including Pythagoras, Afroditi, and even Alkistis (who I’m named after).

In addition to the product materials, COCO-MAT applies eco-efficiency to all aspects of the product life cycle, from manufacturing (the factory is based locally in Athens and uses no chimneys) to packaging (mattresses are transported in cotton cases).  COCO-MAT has implemented Quality Management and Environmental Management systems, based on ISO 9001:2001 and ISO 14001 requirements, and recently won the Total Quality Management award in 2011.

COCO-MAT was founded by by the Evmorfidis brothers in 1989 in Athens, Greece and now, twenty years later, COCO-MAT has a wide international presence with 70 stores in 11 countries — in fact, today 30% of sales are Chinese customers.

As the New York Times describes, COCO-MAT “defies the crisis in [Greece] in both its efforts and its formula for success”.  At a time where 1/4 of Greek companies have gone out of business since 2009 and unemployment for those under 25 is reaching 50%, COCO-MAT continues to succeed and even opened 5 new stores in Greece in 2011 alone.

Can COCO-MAT, with a business model based on local, natural, and sustainable practices, be a solution model for Greeks to overcome this crisis?

And let’s remember, the current crisis is not just economic, it’s also an identity and value crisis.

The past decade has been confusing for Greeks – values have been somewhat jolted by joining the Euro, being enticed by over-consumerism, and educated young adults leaving the country for more finance-driven opportunities.

In particular, Greeks have maybe lost a bit of sight of their country’s natural way of life.  Greece boasts natural value that most other countries do not – 300 days of sunshine, and a climate and land incredibly rich in delicious and quality resources.  COCO-MAT values this richesse, emphasizing its use of Greek natural materials, including wool from Thrace and seaweed from Sparta.

Fortunately, many Greeks, in particular educated young Greeks, are starting to (re)recognize the wealth in Greece’s natural way of life during this difficult time.  If these young entrepreneurs adopt a similar philosophy to COCO-MAT, one which promotes sustainability and Greece’s natural wealth, maybe they too, will have a similar success.  And then, we could all sleep a bit more soundly – on a bed of seaweed and coco fibres.