What can you do to make your nursery more eco-friendly? How do you find the best products? How can you distinguish between what’s “green” and what’s “greenwashed”? Are there ratings you can rely on?
by Ruth A. Wilson, Ph.D.
On the first floor of the White House are three elegant parlors named for their decorating schemes—the Red Room, the Blue Room, and the Green Room. Today, it’s becoming fashionable to think “green” when building, decorating, and remodeling—not a color, but a concern for the environment. “Going green” often has health and economic implications, as well.
As a parent interested in doing what is best for your baby, you may have given some thought as to what you can do to make your nursery more eco-friendly. For this new precious child, parenting means asking a whole new set of questions. A good place to start is reflecting on what “going green” really means. There are three important components to keep in mind:
Cleanable rugs and honeycomb blinds
I went to Dan Wildenhaus, technical manager with Fluid Market Strategies in Portland, Oregon, for some advice on “greening” baby’s room. Dan’s first suggestion was to get rid of wall-to-wall carpet. “Carpets become a reservoir of everything that has ever been tracked through or in the air in a baby’s room.” His suggestion is to have a hard floor surface with a cleanable rug. This, he says, is “a HUGE upgrade to long-term air quality.”
Dan also offers these suggestions:
I also talked to Jon Donze, project manager of 510 Interiors in Olympia, Washington, about window coverings. Jon says that choosing a window covering wisely can greatly reduce the amount of energy lost and make the room more comfortable and safe for your baby.
However, some shades and blinds—while good for light control and loss of heat—have strings that can be strangulation hazards. Jon suggests cordless blinds as a healthy alternative. He also suggests using cellular—or honeycomb—style blinds, as they provide more insulation.
Resources for finding “green” products
With “greenwashing” to contend with and your baby being far more sensitive to chemicals and toxins than adults, trying to purchase “green” products can be a complex undertaking. Fortunately, there are some resources and certifications you can count on. Adam Neugebauer and Dan Wildenhaus suggest these:
A new book, Go Green Rating Scale by Phil Boise (2009), is another resource you may find helpful. While this rating scale was designed for group childcare settings, many of the items on the scale and related suggestions apply to a home setting, as well.
Using the above resources, you’ll find hundreds of suggestions for greening the nursery. Following are just a few:
Your child may never have the opportunity to move into the Green Room of the White House, yet there are many things you can do—both big and small—to make your baby’s room a green room in your own home.
Dr. Ruth Wilson is an educational consultant and curriculum writer. Her primary areas of expertise are early childhood environmental education and peace education.