It’s never too early to start using green-friendly practices when it comes to your children. After all, we want them to grow up safely and also have them enjoy a greener, healthier earth.
Starting with the nursery, use zero-VOC paints or even milk paints to provide those colorful walls. Zero-VOC paints have no volatile organic compounds which can contribute to asthma or other respiratory problems. Both Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams offer zero-VOC paints. Alternatively, there’s also old-fashioned organic milk paint. Milk paint is made from milk proteins, earth pigments and quicklime and was used extensively before the mid-19th century. After that, the commercial chemical paint we know of today took over. Milk paint has also zero VOCs. It’s non-toxic, chemical-free, odorless when dry, and cleans up easily with soap and water. You can paint walls with them or stencil those fun decorative patterns for children.
Next stop: baby furniture. While there are many adorable furniture pieces out there to entice new parents – you want to think long term. Most of the furniture pieces come in one size only and the little ones can quickly outgrow them and then what do you do with them? Of course you can “freecycle” or donate them to charity or to other expectant moms but what about the expense? Then you still have to buy more furniture the next size up. One of the green-friendly principles is to acquire durable goods – such as well made furniture and have it last for many years instead of throwing them out after only a few years and adding to landfill.
Well, Roberto Gil of CASAKiDS came up with a solution. Why not allow furniture to grow with the kids? Gil designed furniture pieces that start with babies, then to toddlers, then to young kids – spanning a good 12 years for one stick of furniture. He started with a crib with collapsible walls which then morphs into a toddler’s bed once the baby turns 3 or 4 years old. With a change of panels, the bed changes to a twin bed enough to last till early teen years.
His Ola! collection for children is made from Lyptus, a sustainable hardwood. It is also designed with the minimum amount of material so that it’s still lightweight but with enough structural integrity that it’s sturdy. Besides the Ola! collection, CASAKiDS also offers loft style beds for older children. These loft beds can also be outfitted with desks and shelves for study.
Canadian firm, Tulip, has created eco-friendly furniture for children too. Tulip uses bamboo – a fast regenerating grass – to create their children’s line. The furniture also uses formaldehyde-free glues and lead-free paint and varnish. Their Pod collection is a modernistic style with simple curving lines in dark browns and creams that can complement with any color scheme. The collection includes a crib, dresser, combo dresser with changing top, lingerie chest, nightstand and twin bed.
Local designer, Lisa Albin and her company, Igloo Play, is from Brooklyn, New York and designed some fun toddler furniture. One of them, the Mod Rocker, is a combination chair, rocking horse, and storage unit. Since most kids are fidgety, the rocker is a great way to relax while still providing movement. Under the chair is even a space to hold little toys or books. The rocker comes in maple, cherry or walnut veneers and all materials are from sustainable woods. To complement the rocker are kidney-shaped tables, called Lima. They’re great for drawing on, eating, and throwing tea parties.
With a little bit of planning, not only can you design a fun, friendly environment for children, but you can also create a safe one for them to grow in.
For more tips on decorating children's rooms, check out this article about decorating with a movie theme.