GREENING THE ROOM
Exploring alternative green options to traditional decorating materials can be a fun adventure. Here are some solutions from the National Geographic’s Green Guide to keep your little one’s room safe:
• Paint with environmentally-friendly paint that doesn’t release toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. VOCs contribute to sick building syndrome, associated with over 50 symptoms including headaches, dizziness, nausea and fatigue. Look for VOC-free paint made from all-natural ingredients such as beeswax, plant oils, crushed limestone, soy resins, and buttermilk
• Synthetic wall-to-wall carpeting traps mold, dust mites, and other allergens and can contain up to 120 toxic and carcinogenic chemicals. Use non-toxic carpets and area rugs made from natural, untreated fibres like wool, organic cotton, hemp, and jute
• Choose hardwood floors harvested with sustainable foresting management techniques, or choose fast-growing and sturdy bamboo. Cork is another renewable resource that’s perfect for floors. For added safety, seal floors with a non-toxic or natural sealant made from natural oils and waxes
• Standard mattresses contain harmful and potentially cancer-causing fire retardants such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE.) Purchase a mattress made with wool casings or organic cotton filling
• Conventional cotton is one of the most heavily pesticide-sprayed crops in the world and permanent press sheets are treated with carcinogenic formaldehyde. At the very least, these chemicals could irritate your little one’s sensitive skin. Use natural fibre bedding such as hemp or organic cotton bedding
• Glues used in furniture made with plywood, particleboard, and medium-density fibreboard (MDF) often contain formaldehyde, which is released into the air. Second-hand furniture made with these materials may have already released the harmful chemical fumes, making them a better and more affordable option. If buying new furniture, consider products made from solid wood, wicker or rattan, renewable resources that reduce possible exposure to formaldehyde.
Children naturally put everything they touch into their mouths. Choose toys made with natural fibres, or wood toys decorated with non-toxic paints. Avoid plastic toys made with PVC (polyvinyl chloride). If chewed, the chemicals can leach into the mouth and may cause organ damage, a variety of tumours, or abnormalities in children. PVC also releases toxins into the environment and contributes to pollution by dispersing carcinogens (dioxins) into our air and water.
GREENING THE ENVIRONMENT
Keep your home clean and chemical free, including floors that babies crawl on and children play on. Wash your family’s clothes in safe, non-toxic laundry products. Avoid using baby wipes made with chlorine, which is known to cause health problems. The winter 2007/08 issue of Canadian Health & Lifestyle provided a number of non-toxic cleaning tips for clothes and home. A good investment for your home is an air purifier, clean air is good for you and your children.