5 Steps to a Greener Nursery
If you're trying to make your home more eco-friendly, consider starting with Baby's room: It's simpler than you think to choose natural, organic, and sustainable materials to outfit the nursery. Which areas should you start with? Read on!
Think safety first, of course. Choose a crib that meets federal Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) guidelines—and if you’re buying it
secondhand, check to see that your crib hasn’t been recalled.
Aside from lead, CPSC guidelines don’t address what cribs are made of. Beware of materials such as composite woods made with formaldehyde, or paints or polyurethanes containing fungicides and/or other additives you really don’t want a baby chewing on. Consider cribs that have been left unfinished or are finished with pure, raw tung and linseed oils.
Mattresses & Bedding
Most conventional crib mattresses are made from polyurethane foam, nylon, polyester, and vinyl—all derived from petroleum—and are treated with anti-microbial and fire-, wetness-, and stain-retarding chemicals, including polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). These chemicals can accumulate in breast milk and in fat, and have been shown to inhibit brain development in animals. Plus, these can irritate Baby’s skin and may even cause allergic reactions in especially sensitive babies. As alternatives, consider crib mattresses made free of chemicals using organic cotton, wool padding, and natural rubber.
Greener Crib, Mattress, & Bedding Resources
Start your crib and crib accessory shopping here:
If you do buy a conventional (and less expensive) crib mattress, let it air out as long as possible before Baby arrives. A mattress cover made of untreated cotton flannel can provide a comfy barrier between your baby and any offgassing chemicals, while protecting against minor leaks. A wool pad, naturally water-resistant, beneath the sheet provides an excellent second line of defense.
Rockers & Other Wooden Furniture
If you plan to rock your baby in the chair you (or your nieces or neighbors’ kids) were soothed in as an infant, fantastic! Reusing nursery items is a smart way to go green—again, as long as they haven’t been recalled.
If you’re choosing new furniture, consider some made of a hardwood that comes from sustainably-managed forests. And, as with cribs, check that the furniture’s finish doesn’t contain potentially harmful materials.
Greener Rocker & Furniture Resources
Find eco nursery furniture essentials here:
An easy way to add flair to a nursery (and save new crawlers’ knees), carpeting should be chosen with care if you’re looking to go green. Synthetic-carpeting systems, and even most wool ones, are treated with stainproofing chemicals, mothproofing pesticides, and more. A 1994 EPA analysis discovered toluene and xylene, both neurotoxic substances, and benzene, a known carcinogen, in some carpet samples tested. (Can you believe that some of these toxins may also be found in disposable diapers, too?)
Additionally, wall-to-wall carpet can’t be taken up for a thorough wash, and allergens and pollutants (including tracked-in lawn herbicides and pesticides) can settle in deeper than vacuums can reach.
Consider leaving floors bare, with washable, natural-fiber rugs placed here and there. You can also buy untreated wool broadloom, finished with an edge. Or, buy a secondhand rug: Have it professionally cleaned at a green cleaner first, then toss all guilt about spills out the window.
Greener Carpeting Resources
These companies offer eco-friendly carpets and rugs:
If you have wood floors in good repair, they can be refinished with a product low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), toxic gases found in a number of cleaning and home improvement products. Consider a product such as Polyureseal BP made by AFM Safecoat.
Looking for new flooring? Consider:
True linoleum, made of all-natural materials: sawdust, linseed oils, pigments, and a jute backing. It’s soft underfoot and easy to clean. Linoleum comes in vibrant colors, perfect for nurseries and kids’ rooms.
Cork. It’s a natural insulator of both heat and sound that’s also soft enough to absorb the impact from your child’s inevitable tumbles.
Greener Flooring Resources
Look for cork, linoleum, and other eco-friendly flooring materials here:
Even More Eco Tips
Looking for more ideas to make your home more natural for your child? Check out:
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