In your quest to make your home greener and more energy-efficient, have you thought about possible changes to your child’s room?
“With the rise of the more conscious, sustainable consumer — think fair trade, organic and environmentally friendly — some talented interior designers have been busy turning their creative minds to designing products with this ethos in mind,” notes Emma McDonald on InteriorsAddict.com. “There are some truly beautiful homeware products available today, created by designers who place sustainability and fabulous design on equal footing.”
Here’s a list of possible improvements you can make:
Get the lead out (but not on your own): If your home was built prior to 1978, it may have lead paint on its walls, ceilings and/or trim. Consider having your home inspected and remediated by a certified abatement specialist, since lead flakes and dust can cause a range of health problems if inhaled or ingested. The EPA discourages homeowners from removing lead-based paint themselves and advises them to keep such surfaces as intact and dust-free as possible.
Natural light: Optimize daylight with multiple windows and/or skylights, and paint walls in light-reflecting colors to reduce the need for high-wattage light bulbs.
Natural night’s sleep: Invest in a nontoxic mattress for your child that’s made of natural and/or organic materials free of questionable chemicals. Many on the market contain flame retardants and petroleum-based polyurethane foam and vinyl housing phthalates, and those produced prior to 2005 may contain chemicals now banned by the EPA. Switch out pillows and other foam bedding for organic wool or cotton varieties, and wash new bedding before use since it may have been processed with dyes and formaldehyde.
Temperature control: Your child’s window applications should be capable of blocking out the sun’s rays to minimize the need for HVAC air conditioning. Natural materials make good choices. Ceiling fans are also energy-efficient and can be reversed in the winter to save heating costs.
Natural furniture: In a perfect world, children’s furniture should be solid wood, assembled with nontoxic glue and finished only with oil. Try to avoid foam with flame retardants, formaldehyde-heavy composite wood, furniture glue and traditional paints and varnishes, especially the stain- or water-resistant finishes that contain PFCs. Instead, opt for low- or no-VOC finishes with low emission standards, or use sealants to deter off-gassing (chemical emission) from existing finishes that may be toxic.
Wallpaper for wellness: For walls, eco-friendly wallpaper and/or paint is recommended over more traditional varieties.
Fortuitous flooring: Select solid wood or other natural flooring, and choose wool rugs instead of carpets and carpet glues containing formaldehyde and acetone. Avoid vinyl tiles, which can contain phthalates.
Add greenery: Common houseplants can help filter VOCs such as formaldehyde, ammonia and benzene.
Clarity of cleaning: Instead of attempting to disinfect your child’s room with strong and potentially harmful chemicals, opt for warm soap and water, microfiber cloths and mops, and a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Use charcoal and/or a high-quality air purifier instead of chemical air fresheners. Ditch any hand sanitizers that contain triclosan (recently banned by the FDA) or triclocarban. And never use pesticides in children’s rooms.
“In truth, there’s never been a better time to go green,” writes Kitty Lascurain on home decor website TheSpruce.com. “You’ll find a wealth of stylish, environmentally savvy nursery products available in stores everywhere. And by insisting on sustainable, responsibly sourced materials, you’ll send a message to manufacturers, asking them to protect our natural resources for the benefit of your children and for children yet to come.”