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How to "green" your toddler

Posted by on 3/6/2016
Photo: How to

Learn how to avoid toxic chemicals that are persistent and bioaccumulative, which means they build up in the environment and our bodies. (Credit: Brendon Purdy Photography)

As a parent, you're probably losing sleep.

It might not be because you're thinking about the eco-friendliest pyjamas, pillows or straws... but reducing your child's exposure to toxic chemicals can help you rest easier.

By the end of this article you will:

  1. Want snug-fit PJs for your kids
  2. Have an urge to dust
  3. Know another way to help protect oceans and wildlife from plastic

Choose snug-fit, certified organic pyjamas not treated with flame retardants.

Avoid synthetics like polyester. Polyester is plastic (which melts) and has flame retardants built into the fibres. Avoid loose-fitting pyjamas, which are more likely to catch fire.

Shop local thrift and consignment stores — that's right, you can score organic clothing there! —or try My Little Green ShopNew JammiesParade BabySimply Merino and Underables, to name a few.

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Studies show that consumer products — not industrial emissions — are the likely source of the buildup of flame retardants, or PBDEs, in people and animals.

These toxic chemicals — found in furniture, carpets and electronics — have been linked to cancer, adverse effects on the developing brain, and immune and reproductive problems. They are also persistent and bioaccumulative, which means they build up in the environment and our bodies.

The solution? Dust!

Household dust is now recognized as one of the most significant sources of childhood exposure to toxic substances because it's really a chemical soup with low levels of flame retardants, pesticides, phthalates and metals like lead, mercury and arsenic.

Choose pillows made from the eco-friendliest materials: wool, natural rubber, kapok or organic cotton.

If you're lucky, your toddler's head rests 11 to 13 hours each day on a pillow. But what's that pillow made of?

Avoid pillows made from synthetics like petroleum-based polyester. Natural fabrics and fibres are better because they won't off-gas. Some down and feathers used in pillows (comforters and jackets, too) are harvested from live or force-fed birds. And some down pillows contain feathers sterilized with formaldehyde — a known carcinogen.

Pillows are not recommended for babies under 12 months. Choose a low-loft pillow for toddlers.

  • Wool is naturally resistant to dust mites and mildew. It needs to be spot-cleaned.
  • Natural rubber is resistant to mold, fungus, mildew and dust mites. It's also renewable and biodegradable.
  • Silky threads from the flower seeds of kapok trees are harvested without chopping down the trees.
  • Organic cotton breathes and, free my chemicals and dyes, is better for the environment. It's popular among people with allergies or sensitive skin.

Retailers of eco-friendly bedding and beds include Organic LifestyleinBed Organics, and Obasan

Choose reusable, recyclable stainless steel plates, cutlery, lunch kits, straws, etc.

Plastics are widely used because they're cheap and often durable. But most contain toxic chemicals, as softeners or to make them resistant to ultraviolet light.

Health Canada says that 95 per cent of Canadians have measurable levels of Bisphenol-A (BPA) in their blood or urine, with the highest levels found in children. Potential health effects from BPA exposure include breast and prostate cancer, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a wide range of developmental problems. And phthalates (pronounced "thal-ates") are increasingly linked to endocrine disruption (interfering with hormone function), and reproductive and developmental problems, among other health effects.

Shop for dishware that's free of BPA, PVC (polyvinyl chloride), phthalates, and lead and cadmium (or other heavy metals). Places to source non-toxic, air-tight, leak-proof and dishwasher-safe options include ECO lunchbox and Onyx Containers.

What other "green" toddler items do you recommend? Comment on this blog to win toddler pajamas made by Skylar Luna and donated by Underables, a toddler pillow donated by Organic Lifestyle and stainless steel straws and children's cutlery donated by Onyx. (Draw date: April 11, 2016)


Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green

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