Green is definitely a great colour for the bedroom — and we don’t just mean for the walls. Since your child spends approximately 1/2 of their day in bed (hopefully!) and research shows that our bodies are much more sensitive to environmental influences while sleeping, your child’s bedroom is the natural place to start implementing more eco-friendly products. Some eco-friendly flooring options include: bamboo, reclaimed wood from old buildings and they are even making flooring from trees damaged by the pine beetle and from trees fallen in Stanley Park during the infamous 2006 windstorm. History and sustainablility can be underfoot! If you are someone who prefers something softer under your toes 100% wool carpeting is the way to go. Many conventional carpet and carpet padding options contain plastics made from petroleum. Toxic materials and chemicals – such as mothproofing and products to repel or retard soil and moisture pose an additional health risk. New carpet and rug installation can also fill the air with volatile organic compounds, such as formaldehyde and benzene.
For the walls look for paints with zero to low VOCs (volatile organic compounds). VOCs are basically the stuff that makes paint stink and the off-gassing of these compounds contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer. Mattresses can be the greatest source of toxins in the bedroom. Polyurethane foam is a material found in most mattresses. This foam off-gasses toluene, which is an industrial solvent and a VOC. Your best option is to go for an organic mattress made from natural materials which don’t off-gas these harmful chemicals, but also allow for better air flow and help the body maintain a more comfortable temperature. If the price of an organic mattress is somewhat intimidating, another option is to buy a natural wool topper for your conventional mattress. These toppers help protect you from the off-gases and at the same time wool is naturally hypoallergenic, moisture, bacteria and dust-mite resistant!
Organic cotton sheets are a must have for the “green” bedroom. Conventional cotton farming accounts for 25% of the world’s pesticide use. It takes approximately 1/3 of a pound of chemicals to produce just one t-shirt. Conventional cotton sheets are often finished with toxic dyes and formaldehyde to prevent wrinkling. People working at and in surrounding areas of cotton farms are exposed to these harmful chemicals and suffer extreme negative health effects. On the other hand, cotton that is certified organic has been grown in fields where the use of pesticides have been discontinued for at least 3 years. An organic farming system relies on natural inputs only. No synthetically produced pesticides or fertilizers are used. For children with skin sensitivities, sleeping on organic cotton sheets can help.
When thinking about accessorizing think about going local. There are so many fabulous artisans in your area and supporting them is supporting sustainability in your community. Look for artists that create objects from recycled and non-toxic materials. When buying prints for the walls look for ones that are printed on recycled paper using vegetable or water based inks.
So when thinking about redecorating your child’s bedroom we hope you will be going green. Their health and your planet will thank you.
Christine Budai is co-owner of Saplings, a boutique specializing in organic bedding for children. www.saplings.ca