Thanks to everyone who enjoyed the home tour (if you missed it, click here)! Wouldn’t you know it, now we’re getting questions about babies. Specifically, is it possible for busy, working families to lower the environmental impact of raising a child? To answer your questions, we are postponing the Chinese New Year celebration article until next week to assure you: of course it’s possible. It’s not easy, but nothing about parenting is easy. A few key decisions can drastically lessen your impact on the planet without adding too much additional hassle (or cost) for you. Read on for a few of The Eco Chic Event’s earth-friendly baby tips!
1. If you’re preparing a nursery, make sure the paint you choose is zero VOC. We highly recommend the water-based Natura line by Benjamin Moore – it comes in all the nicest colors and is pretty much the safest thing out there. We used it all over the house.
If you’re using a crib or bassinet, choose a mattress from organic lambswool or cotton. I like the wool because it’s naturally water resistant, but there is a greater selection of cotton mattresses and pads. These should contain no petrochemicals or other toxic materials that can offgas. Happily, there are more and more sustainable, breathable options out there.
2. If you have a baby, it’s got to be done. Diapers account for about 2% of all landfill garbage generated in the US. We aren’t a negative-focused blog, so we won’t get into all the nasty things put into disposable diapers these days. Google it if you want details. Maybe you’ve already guessed our advice: cloth diapers all the way. Try to get over the “ick” factor, because by age three, using cloth diapers will save you around $3,000. These days they don’t even require fiddly pins – they come with velcro or snaps, and in all different colors. Frankly, they’re adorable. Your options, in ascending order of cost: prefolds, fitteds, all-in-ones, and pockets. Just rinse before tossing them into the wash, and it’s easy as that. *In case this is your first baby and you’re cringing, baby poo is not grownup poo. Your washing machine is more than up to the task.
The second-best option if you just can’t bring yourself to use cloth: biodegradable disposables. Buy the kind that hasn’t been bleached with chlorine. As an added bonus: green diapers have been shown to perform better in trials of absorbency, leakage, and comfort than their non-green counterparts. Surprised? Now, along these same lines….
Wipes. Many women I know love them, for quickly cleaning faces and sinks as well as bottoms. However, they are neither eco-friendly nor a one-time expense. Instead of constantly reaching for more disposables, try wiping the mess with a cloth and tossing it into the laundry. It’s really not that bad. If you still yearn for the convenience of one-time-use wipes, opt for the biodegradable ones made from bamboo. These are great; we sometimes use them while hiking.
3. Baby accoutrement. We’re sure you know BPA-free bottles are the way to go, but have you considered glass? You might think that glass and babies don’t mix, but companies like Born Free have been offering glass bottles with non-slip silicone sleeves for years. To parents’ delight, they are also dishwasher safe and your baby can control milk flow just like when breastfeeding.
These veggie crayons are the best for very young children who might put them in their mouths. They’re free of toxins, wheat, sugar, etc. and are perfectly harmless if ingested. The same company also makes veggie sidewalk chalk. As your kids get older, there are other options with a greater variety of colors.
BPA-free toothbrushes are gaining in popularity, and there are a number of great options readily available. Radius is my current favorite. When your babies have grown a bit, bamboo toothbrushes are another great choice, and very hip.
These are just a few ideas to get you headed in the right direction. With a bit of creativity, it is possible to keep your baby toxin-free and at the same time support a healthier planet. Keep the questions coming, and as always, share your insights on our Facebook page for all to see! Keep it green, friends!