5. Eco-Friendly Furniture
Wood appears to be the best pick when it comes to eco-friendly design. But, you're probably thinking, "cutting down a lot of trees doesn't seem so eco-friendly." And you're right to be concerned. It's important when you are buying wood to know its origin. The Forest Stewardship Council certifies companies using approved lumber. In addition, "avoid using particleboard," says Upton. "Even on many pieces of furniture the back portion or liner may be made of particleboard. This material off-gasses formaldehyde and other dioxins. If you see it you need to seal it with AFMs 'Safe Seal,' a milky, non-toxic sealant that blocks emissions." Be sure to also avoid particleboard in built-in pieces.
Investing in one or two quality wood pieces for a child's room can be all that is needed. You can choose a wood that can be safely painted to customize the look or leave it neutral for changeable styles.
Two good choices are available in eco-friendly lighting. First, consider the compact fluorescent—they use less energy than your standard incandescent and they also seem to help prevent eye strain. Next, you may want to give the Ott-Lite a try. Invented by world-famous photobiologist Dr. John Nash Ott, PhD, this light actually produces the full spectrum of natural light, which appears to benefit both plants and animals. Plus it can save you a few dollars every month on your electric bill.
7. Be Done With Dust
It's not something you want to think about but dust mites are everywhere: on your sheets, curtains, and pillows, even your child's favorite plush toys. Aside from the creepy factor, those little dust mites can cause big allergy problems. To cut down on the mites in bed you can invest in a tightly woven mattress cover. Vacuum stuffed toys regularly and choose window treatments that are dust repellant.
Remember the old environmental slogan: "Recycle, Reduce, Reuse?" It can certainly apply to decorating. Make out-grown baby clothes into a decorative quilt, reuse a hand-me-down dresser into a stylish new piece with a sander and some paint (in an open space, using safe paint, of course), or get rid of some extra clutter on shelves and tables to minimize dust. Brainstorm which unused pieces meet eco-standards and assign them new functions, get rid of the rest in a responsible manner.