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Paula Kashtan

Creating An Eco-Friendly Nursery

I've always been very environmentally conscious, and I'm wondering how I can incorporate that into my nursery. Also, are there any materials I should look out for? I don't want to expose baby to anything that's potentially dangerous.

Yes, there are definitely ways to help both baby and the planet. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Instead of traditional wood flooring, go for bamboo or eucalyptus — both are highly renewable resources. And, look for furnishing with a water-based aluminum oxide with no volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions.

Look over the ingredient label before you select a paint. If you see things like turpentine, formaldehyde, any animal products or VOCs, put back the can. Paints with all-natural ingredients like mineral pigments, plant oils, crushed limestone and milk are a better bet.

Avoid furniture made of laminated wood, plywood, particleboard and medium-density fiberboard — the glue in these often contain formaldehyde. The pieces will wear down faster, and release chemical fumes.

Spring for a quality air purifier to deal with any pollutants. A freestanding humidifier with a HEPA filter is your best bet.

Find window treatments made of natural fabric. (Extra points for organic cotton!) Steer clear of mini blinds — they’re made of PVC, which can give off gas when heated by the sun.

Reuse! Ask friends for their old baby gear, shop at secondhand stores, and check out recycling/sharing websites. Just make sure any used gear is still in safe condition, and hasn't been recalled by the CPSC.