A sustainable shopping list for new parents

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly listed the price of a Naturepedic crib mattress. It is $359, not $59. This version has been corrected.


(Caroline McCandlish)
August 31, 2011
1 Paint

Low- or zero-VOC paints are better for your health, odorless and fade-resistant. They’re also usually made using water-based dyes. The Natura line by Benjamin Moore is the lowest-emission paint available and can be washed with soap and water. Natura Interior Waterborne Paints by Benjamin Moore (www.benjaminmoore.com.) Walls are Eggshell in Polar Ice, trim is semi-gloss and ceiling is flat, both in White Dove.

2 Crib mattress

When shopping, look for mattresses made from organic cotton that have polyethylene waterproof surfaces so they can be wiped clean. No-Compromise organic cotton ultra baby crib and toddler mattress ($359, www.naturepedic.com).

3 Changing pad with cover

This pad’s organic cotton cover is machine washable. While many changing pads have toxic properties such as foam or latex rubber in their cushions, this pad uses a layer of closed air pockets, an environmentally friendly alternative. Organic changing pad, $100, with cover ($29, at www.naturepedic.com).

4 Dresser with changing table

This dresser is short and can double as a changing table. The wood is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which means it comes from forests that continually replenish trees for harvest. It is finished with custom low-VOC paint and water-based wood adhesive. Amelia Shortie dresser with crib changer in petal ($2,200, www.mainecottage.com).

5 Area rug

Rugs endure a lot of wear and tear, so look for those with easy cleaning requirements. This hand-loomed woven area rug is durable, lightweight and reversible, a bonus for fickle decorators. To clean, just use cold water and gently scrub. Aquinnah woven cotton rug ($208, www.dashandalbert.com).

6 Table lamp

This table lamp is made from recycled, mouth-blown waterglass and has a 100 percent cotton shade. Remember, LED light bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last about six times longer. Blue Recycled Glass Waterfall table lamp by Lamp Works ($225, www.bellacor.com).

7 Toy basket

Nursery accessories can be environmentally friendly, too. This basket is handcrafted from natural Appalachian white ash, the same hardwood that baseball bats and snowshoes are made from. Use it to store toys, blankets and books. Householder basket in cherry ($60, www.peterborobasket.com).

8 Side table

Nightstands are a great long-term investment because they can transition from room to room through the years. This nightstand was made using solid wood with nontoxic, lead-free and water-based paints and glues. Salerno nightstand by Pali in white ($350, www.babyearth.com).

9 Mobile

This mobile, by Blabla, is made from soft, hand-picked cotton and was knitted by Peruvian­­ artists. Blue Bird mobile ($110, www.blablakids.com).

10 Pendant light

Though the ceiling is an easy spot to forget, there are plenty of options for sustainable overhead lights and fans. This shade, hand-printed with water-based and solvent-free dyes, is made of 100 percent European linen, a natural fabric made from the fibers of flax plants. Buds Pendant in lime on beige with white canopy ($258, www.paper-cloud.com).

11 Rocker chair and ottoman

The rocking chair and ottoman have solid wood frames with cushions made of soy-based polyfoam. Their slipcovers are machine washable and made in the United States. Bayside swivel glider in Petry blue, $1,000, and Portico ottoman with casters in Shalimar Aqua, ($500, www.crateandbarrel.com).

12 Wall art

Wall decals are a fun, smart decorating choice for growing families because they can be removed and replaced as children get older. This peel-and-stick decal is reusable and made in the United States. Kids Tree giant wall decal ($25, www.roommatespeelandstick.com).

13 Shades

For safety, look for cordless blinds to keep children or pets from getting tangled. These linen roman shades are made of all natural materials that are free of bleach, dyes and chemicals. Flat roman shades in natural linen and organic cotton lining with a cordless lift. Price varies based on measurements (www.smithandnoble.com.)

Megan Buerger

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