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Eco-Babies: Green Baby Basics

As any new parent knows, it's amazing the amount of STUFF you acquire when a baby is on the way!  How can such a little person require so much?  But having a baby is the perfect time to commit to a green lifestyle.  By making eco-conscious purchasing decisions you'll be supporting responsible manufacturing practices, investing in earth-friendly products and greening your home one purchase at a time.  Your baby and your planet will thank you.

Greening the Nursery

Babies need bedding, there's no doubt about that.  But consider what it takes to make those cute blankies and sleepers. Too often chemicals come in to play.  That means your sweet little addition is breathing in, and lying on, the green residual fumes.  Yuck!  No wonder so many babies develop skin rashes!  
How the materials used to make these items are grown, harvested, manufactured and finished all affect how eco-friendly your nursery is.   And the choices you make in your purchasing decisions affect how healthy you leave the planet for your little one.

Eco-friendly is Baby-friendly

Too often baby bedding is made from synthetic materials, which are made from petrochemicals.  "Petro" meaning petroleum-based (as in oil) and chemicals!  Not very eco-friendly, earth-conscious, resource-friendly OR baby-friendly!  Rather than purchasing products made from these non-renewable, environment-degrading materials look for eco-friendly products made of all-natural or organic fibers.
Organic and untreated fibers are grown and processed using sustainable agricultural practices.  This means little or no chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers, dyes or bleach are used in growing and manufacturing these materials.  And that means none of the residuals will enter your baby's nursery....or body.

Green Fibers

Organic cotton, wool and bamboo are excellent choices for greening up your nursery.
Organic cotton is grown without the use of chemicals, thus eliminating many of the related problems of conventional green cotton farming such as soil and water pollution.  In addition, organic cotton farms combat global warming by storing carbon in the soil.  The green carbon is stored in the natural, organic matter used as fertilizer by the crops, which reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the eco-friendly atmosphere.  
Wool is a great choice as a natural green fiber too.  It's a sustainable resource (sheep are not killed, just shorn in order to harvest the wool).  Pure wool is naturally fire resistant so adding fire retardant chemicals is not necessary.  However, there is still a difference between conventionally grown wool and organic wool.  Organically harvested wool restricts the use of insecticides on the sheep and requires that the sheep grazing land is not overcrowded.  This limits groundwater contamination and soil erosion.  So, be sure to look for that "organic" label to get the greenest product possible!
Bamboo is not just for flooring.  You may be surprised to know that it can produce fibers and fabric!  Bamboo is also a wonderfully sustainable crop.  It is one of the fastest growing plants in the world and it does not require the use of pesticides or fertilizers. The plants are naturally antifungal and antibacterial!  The green fabric is naturally insulating and can be worn to keep cool in summer and warm in winter.  The netlike roots of bamboo help control erosion and runoff and the multitude of leaves on a plant releases oxygen back into the atmosphere at levels higher than many trees.

Eco-Friendly Labels

How do you know if you're purchasing eco-friendly products?  Check the labels.  An eco-friendly product will generally have the terms: organic, all natural, no dyes, no bleach, low-impact and eco-friendly on the label or packaging.  Another clue is to read the list of materials.  If you recognize the word, it's probably natural. Anything with "petro", "chloro", "fluro", or "oxin" is probably not made of natural materials.
Another thing to be aware of is the treatments fabrics often go through to repel water, stains or fire.  Even organic products may be coated in chemicals!  To ensure your bedding is free of these chemicals avoid buying anything with these terms: permanent press, stain-proof, water-proof, water-repellent, or flame retardant.

Eco-Friendly Purchasing Power is Earth Power

Remember, the rules of supply and demand oftentimes dictate what farming and manufacturing processes will be used.  If we purchase more and DEMAND more earth-friendly, sustainable and environmentally responsible products, suppliers will have to keep up.  Your green choices will make a difference beyond your own home.

Submitted by theecoguru on Dec 3, 2009