The Origins of Latex

We at Vita Talalay continue to strive towards sustainable and fair sourcing, as well as production. Where better to continue the journey than at the birth place of latex itself?

Sustainable sourcing and production

Our main goal at Vita Talalay has always been to give the healthiest sleep experience to our customers whilst not forgetting to produce our high end product in a fair, green and sustainable manner. We began this journey many years ago when we introduced the Natural Vita Talalay latex to the market, which has resonated well with consumers over the past years. Just a few years after, we strived towards the Cradle to Cradle certification, which promotes sustainable businesses which have decided to implement circular economy, essentially ensuring that only unharmful materials are used whilst no resources go to waste. At first, we were awarded with the silver certification but were awarded the gold certification shortly after, whilst of course continuously implementing improvements. Even this has not been enough for us. The next step in the journey was to receive the FSC® certification, which occurred during the final days of 2016. The FSC certification not only ensures that the forests and plantations where our latex comes from is responsibly managed, but also that the whole chain of custody is handled to the highest social and economic standards.

Although this may already seem enough to many, we are continuing our journey for improvement. We were going to explore options to get our latex from an acknowledged, fair and sustainable source.  A step not yet taken by the tire-industry that uses most of the rubber, and therefore a step that would bring us on the forefront of sustainable rubber sourcing.

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The journey to Guatemala

The adventure brought our team to Guatemala, where one can see how a rubber tree seed becomes a mattress. After having arrived in the capital, Guatemala City, our team continued their journey by car to the plantations which are located approximately two hours east of the big city. Throughout the whole drive, there seemed to be one synonymous setting after leaving the capital: green, tropical sceneries wherever you looked and bumpy roads!

And suddenly they were surrounded by thousands of hevea brasiliensis rubbertrees and rain forest. After being welcomed by very open and warm management and staff, they were informed that the rain forest was part of the plantation and is protected by the certification as it had to remain untouched. This was also the first part of the tour: a walk through the rain forest which included waterfalls, caves and wild animals. The rain forest was still so pure that everyone was drinking water from the small creeks that flow throughout the massive forestry.

The second part of the tour around the plantation was showing how the rubber tree seed becomes a full grown natural source for latex. Nature is full of surprises and the rubber tree seed is one of them! The rubber tree does not form seeds directly, but a kind of pod which contains several seeds, mostly two or three. Once the seed has formed, it will one day fall from the heights of the tree. Having hit the ground, the pod explodes and shoots the seeds in to different directions, which in turn increases its chances to grow.

After the trees have grown out of the nursery stage, they are ready to be tapped. The carvers begin their work in the early hours of each day, shortly before sunrise. This is done by a special carving technique, which according to the plantation managers, takes a while to master. Wrong carving would lead to permanently damaging the tree, leaving scar-like markings. Consequences of that are that the tree produces and gives less of the desired white sap. Healthy trees on the other hand, will be fruitful at the very least for the upcoming 15 years.


What struck the team immediately was the positive atmosphere around the whole plantation, regardless of whether it being the plantation managers, farmers or the carvers. Not only did they seem content and satisfied with their lives and jobs, but there was a real mentality of care towards nature. This had not come from the certification but had already been there much longer. The certification merely helped communicate the way that the locals felt and cared about their lands. The rain forest had to remain untouched on all ends.

After a few days on the plantation, the team wanted to discover where latex had its origins. The first people to have used latex were the Mayans, which is why they flew to the north of Guatemala to see the remains of one of the largest Mayan cities: Tikal. There, they discovered that the Mayans had two main uses for the white rubber tree sap. First of all, they used the liquid to form large rubber balls, which weighed between 3 and 5 kilograms, which would in turn be used to play a form of basketball. Special about this game was that the Mayans would use their shoulders rather than hands! The second use of latex for the Mayans was for making a sort of cement. They would mix the latex together with water, lime stone and soil until it would become a paste. This is the very same paste which still holds together the thousands of stones which form the temples today – even after more than 2500 years!

The Vita Talalay team had returned back to the Netherlands with a whole new perspective and understanding of where and how Vita Talalay’s FSC certified latex is produced. They set out to Guatemala to find out more about the FSC certification and latex plantations, but returned with knowledge of much more.

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Discover the benefits of Vita Talalay's natural latex and how it can help you get the rest that your body needs... Read More

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