Eco-conscious moms make eco-conscious kids. This back-to-school season, ensure that everything from your child's clothes to furniture are environmentally friendly. Help your child to pick out the best products and learn why being green is healthy for both them and the environment.
Clothing and Shoes
Did you know that conventional cotton cultivation uses 25% of the world's pesticides? Clothing your child doesn't have to be harmful to the environment; clothing companies worldwide are turning to organic cotton and other more sustainable materials. Even big sports and outdoors brands are now using organic cotton and many of their products are made from 100% of the material. Trendy and cheap labels are also jumping on the organic cotton bandwagon, making finding eco-friendly clothes easy and fashionable, at least for some of their collections. To track down businesses that specialize in the eco-conscious material check out website Organic Cotton Directory, which has an easy to use search function to find shops and companies that make and carry organic cotton products.
Beyond clothing, eco-friendly footwear is equally important this back-to-school season and fortunately, buying shoes that are in step with the green movement has become easier. The top thing to remember is to look for shoes that are made with recycled and sustainable materials. Simple Shoes makes an extensive line of children's shoes that use everything from recycled tires to bamboo to water-based glue; your child's shoes will not only be made from recycled materials but also free of the chemicals used in traditional shoe glues.
Use your shopping time as an instructional moment for you and your child. Explain what you are buying and why. With the variety of eco-friendly products, shopping consciously with your child should be fun; what kid wouldn't want to be wearing recycled tires on their feet?
Filling up your child's school bag with eco-friendly supplies is easier than it sounds. Start off with a school bag that is PVC-free. PVC, otherwise known as vinyl, is one of the most environmentally hazardous plastics and can be avoided by buying bags made from popular sustainable materials like recycled rubber or hemp. If your child wants a more conventional looking bag, choose one made of nylon or polyester, which does not contain PVC, like Jansport and North Face. Above all, assess the state of last year's school bag; re-using an old bag is the least wasteful choice. Think about customization!
For school supplies, there are a wide variety of products that range from recycled paper to pens. Companies like l'Arbre aux Papiers make several different series of recycled paper in an entertaining array of colors and textures sure to inspire your child's creativity. For desk supplies like pens, rulers and binders, try Ecoburo, a company certified by the European Eco-label.
Even without buying special supplies you can make an effort to shop with the planet in mind. Buy supplies made with natural materials whenever possible, such as wood colored pencils and water-based glue. Help save forests and lower dioxins by buying recycled, chlorine-free paper.
Stay away from supplies which contain high levels of chemicals in them like acrylic paints and pastel crayons, which can contain asbestos. Remember that buying products which are good for the planet are also good for your child's health as they often contain none of the harmful chemicals used in regular supplies.
Redecorate Your Child's Room
Especially at young ages, children can be highly affected by toxins in painted furniture. Chemicals used in traditional paints release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) into the air that you and your child breathe. To limit the health and environmental hazards in your child's room, use this back-to-school season as the eco-redecorating season. Get inspired by furniture by Lilipad Studio. A fun line of child sized furniture in bright colors, Lilipad Studio uses responsibly forested, FSC certified hardwood and decorates its creations with non-toxic paints.
If you want to get your child involved in the decorating process, buy second hand furniture and repaint it with non-toxic or low VOC paint. Many big name paint brands like Benjamin Moore and Glidden have gone the eco-conscious route and offer non-toxic paints in palette of colors. Make sure to sand furniture down in order to get off all old paint which may contain toxins.
Want environmentally responsible furniture that is a little more off the wall? Cardboard is the new hip material for everything from stools to desks. At inexpensive prices, cardboard furniture by companies like Orika is not only recyclable but also great for kids who have a tendency to draw on their tables and chairs; give your child some colored pencils and see what creations arise. On the upper end of the cardboard furniture price scale is Retur Design, with practical yet fashionable and funky constructions that might even make their way into your own bedroom.