Little babies can have a disproportionately large impact on the environment. Their clothes, toys, and living spaces can be a catch-all for harmful chemicals. There are many ways to make a nursery more environmentally friendly and safer for them. Check out our tips for creating a green nursery.
Disposable diapers create thousands of tons of waste in landfills each year. By choosing cloth, families are choosing a much better option for the planet and for baby. Read our article on cloth diapering with local resources listed.
Careful: Wet Paint
That strong odor that lingers after a new paint job isn’t harmless. The fumes may be greenhouse gasses that contribute to global warming and/or are unsafe to breath for long periods of time. Safer (and less smelly) paints called Low or No VOC paints exist, and using them will lower exposure to their harsh chemicals. They coat walls as well as traditional paints, but without harsh aroma. Well known brands that make Low/No VOC paints include Behr, Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams. Purchase these paints at a local store such as the Long Island hardware store chain, Aboff’s, with multiple locations in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Cleaning the house in an eco-friendly way is good for the family’s health and for the earth. Use apple cider vinegar for dusting and lemon oil to moisturize wood furniture. Purchase plant-based laundry detergents; since they’re made with natural ingredients they clean clothes effectively, but are gentler on baby’s skin. Considering that babies spend a lot of time snuggling with their parents, Mom and Dad should also switch detergents as well. Read our article on unique uses for household products.
Baby Soft Skin
Most diaper caddies are stocked with creams, soaps, lotions and powders. In summertime, bug spray and sunscreen are must-haves. Can’t pronounce the ingredients on the list? Organic and chemical-free options abound. Keep in mind that not all “natural” products are equally safe. Check out www.ewg.org/skindeep for ratings and reviews of specific brands and items. Read our article on local health food shops of which many carry organic baby products as well.
If families choose to start feeding their baby purees, making it at home is a great (and green) option. It’s easy, cost effective and parents know exactly what’s going into baby’s body. Make food in large batches and freeze in reusable BPA-free containers. Baby food chefs don’t need special tools; a blender, steamer, and a food processor will do the job effectively. Read our articles on where to find fresh fruits and vegetables at local Farmer’s Markets.
Eco-friendly mattresses are chemical-free. Cotton and wool are used in the batting, filling and outer fabric. Babies are in close contact with their mattress everyday, so making a “green” decision is extra important. Be sure that any mattress purchased meets federal requirements for firmness and flame resistance. Don’t forget to purchase organic bassinet and crib sheets, changing pad covers and pajamas. Buy bedding items local such as at Spoiled Rotten Too in Woodbury.
Rubber Ducky and soft teethers aren’t as innocent as they look. Many conventional toys still use a chemical called phthalate to make the plastic soft and pliable, but this chemical also happens to be one of the most toxic and environmentally unfriendly items out there. Since babies put EVERYTHING in their mouths, these soft plastic “friends” might not be the best choice. Instead, look for solid wood toys that use natural finish oils. Purchase cloth stuffed animals, rattles and dolls made of organic cotton or wool so baby can happily cuddle, hug and chew on them without worry of toxins. Read our articles on eco-friendly toy companies and local independent toy stores.
By Rachel Minkowsky