Friday, 24 June 2011
Green your baby's nursery
Call it a new parent rite of passage: eager mum and dad-to-be armed with wash buckets and paint brushes ready to transform a drab bedroom into a cute, colourful nest for their new arrival. Walls are painted, plush carpeting is tacked down, new furniture is trundled in, and quilts, pillows and blankets are laid out in abundance.
Such extensive preparations go a long way to brightening baby's room, but they may not offer such good tidings for its tiny occupant. These typical enhancements may, in fact, be exposing an infant bundle of joy to a myriad of toxic chemicals, from the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) wafting off fresh paint to the formaldehyde off-gassing from carpeting, furniture and even new bedding. But that doesn't mean parents should stow their paint brushes and lay down their newborn in dingy quarters. Nurseries can be both clean and green, with the right preparation.
So here are some of my tips to create a green and healthy nursery:
If you're set on painting the nursery, do it as far in advance of the baby's birth as possible. Ensure you use water based, LOW or NO VOC paint.
The synthetic carpet that you see in most carpeting outlets is not only non-biodegradable but may be tainted with up to 120 toxic carcinogenic chemicals. Choose natural fibre carpets made from wool - check that they haven't been treated with unnecessary chemicals or glue. If you're repolishing timber flooring ensure you use non-toxic coatings.
All-cotton bedding materials have many eco-advantages over those made from synthetics like polyester, but you can't get away from the fact that cotton is on of the most heavily pesticide sprayed crops in the world! So follow Miranda Kerr's lead and buy all organic sheets (and clothing). And ensure you purchase organic mattresses that are made without fire retardants which contain a toxin known as PDBE.
As well as being sturdy and functional, make sure the furniture is non-toxic. Solid wood treated with non-toxic varnish, oil or wax is best. Avoid chipboard wood at all costs as it is made using formaldehyde. There are many companies that specialise in eco-friendly furniture - so you have no excuse.
Living plants can remove toxic chemicals including formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide from the air according to a two year study by NASA scientists. So why wouldn't you liven up the room with a beautiful plant or two?
Remove Wi-Fi, cordless phones and mobile phones from the baby's nursery. Most importantly, ditch those baby monitors! They emit radiation at higher levels than mobiles.
All these chemicals and toxins are an unfortunate reality in our day in age. But education and knowledge is the best defence I say! So before you buy anything - do your research!