While babies and children are synonymous with more plastic than you can shake a rattle at, there are ways to be environmentally friendly when buying products for your little one’s room. From wall coverings to floor cleaning products, here’s Helen Farmer’s guide to making a nursery that the planet will love as much as you do…
When you factor in the carbon footprint of those oh-so adorable cushions and toys you spied online for your newborn’s nursery, they’re not so cute after all. Shop at your local craft fairs or farmers’ markets and you’ll not only find something unique, but you’ll be supporting small businesses right on your doorstep – whose products have travelled a matter of metres, not thousands of miles.
Reuse, repurpose and recycle
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need everything box-fresh for your new addition – but there might be more than you think right under your nose. You know that tall flat-pack bookcase that’s gathering dust? It might be perfect for toy storage when flipped on its side. And don’t worry about buying a changing table – an existing chest of drawers is fine, when topped with a changing mat. Use a paint free from VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) to give old pieces a new lease of life, just in case baby decides to chew on them. Spoiler alert: they will.
Make it yourself
The ‘nesting’ stage in pregnancy isn’t just about obsessively scrubbing every inch of your nursery with a toothbrush – making things for the imminent arrival is a good way of channelling that nervous energy. Upcycling old clothes and fabric into simple bunting for the baby’s room or hand sewing or painting decorations will add a personal touch. Just make sure any buttons are securely fastened.
Guess what? Babies grow up, and the last thing you need is to be left with a room full of unwanted furniture. Buy second-hand or borrow pieces from friends, or go for products that adjust and grow with your child, such as cots that convert into beds, or changing tables that can be used as desks. Solid wood is a more ecological choice, and even better if it’s from an approved source.
Cut the chemicals
While we’re all keen to make sure surfaces are clean for tiny hands and mouths, throwing bleach at the problem isn’t necessarily the best idea. Instead, choose natural cleaning brands like Ecover (the range includes multi-action sprays, floor cleaners and wipes) or make your own – there are very few things that vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda can’t tackle…
Don’t feel like you need to paint or wallpaper the whole room. Really. The baby won’t notice. An easy way of making a space more appealing for little ones are removable wall stickers – opt for fabric, PVC-free stickers as you’ll skip the nasties, and even be able to reposition them, as they’re stronger than traditional styles. Check out Paper Pop’s (https://www.paper-pop.com/) collection, with choices from dinosaurs to giant confetti dots. If you want to paint, make sure you choose a non-toxic, VOC-free brand like Benjamin Moore.