Being good to planet Earth through sustainable living is not only about keeping your environment healthy, but also your family. Parents are faced with a myriad of products that could do great damage to the health of their children – from the plastics that make their bottles and toys, the garden spray you use to keep bugs off your backyard swing-set, to disposable diapers.
In response, organizations worldwide are meeting parents halfway to combat the problems and risks that come with harsh chemicals and non-biodegradable products.
“It is now widely documented that the chemicals found in our surroundings – including our home environment – can find their way into our bodies and eventually be linked to a wide variety of health problems,” says Serena Chenoy, a spokesperson for Seventh Generation, a socially responsible company that produces environmentally-friendly, non-toxic household products.
“For parents, health, security and comfort are always a priority when it comes to their baby. Natural, environmentally-friendly products are safe for babies, as well as for parents, and are just as efficient.”
In order to keep your baby – and yourself – safe from potential harm and to ensure you’re doing your part to maintain a healthy environment, Chenoy suggests a number of changes in how parents run their household:
Use non-toxic products at home: There is a vast selection of environmentally-friendly cleaning products, detergents and body care products offered on the market today. Read labels carefully and look for terms such as petroleum-free, chlorine-free, phosphate-free, non-toxic and hypoallergenic.
Manage garden pests in a safe manner: Exposure to toxic lawn and garden products and indoor pesticides can lead to health problems. When trying to control these pests, look for pesticides, weed killers and fertilizers that are non-toxic so baby can continue playing outside.
Watch out for indoor air quality: Studies suggest the air indoors in most homes can be up to nine times more polluted than the air outdoors. During the cold season, ventilate your home by opening your windows at least once a day, and make sure the air filters of your air conditioning and heating units are changed regularly.
Be careful with the plastics you use: Toys made of soft plastic (especially those that are labelled V or 3) are to be avoided. Opt for toys made of wood, cloth or metal. Look for plastics such as polyethylene (1, 2 and 4) and polypropylene (5). Stay away from polycarbonate plastics for your baby, and instead choose those that indicate they have no phthalates and no bisphenol A (BPA).
Use chlorine-free diapers: The only reason why some diaper manufacturers put chlorine in their product is to make them white. Chlorine eventually turns into dioxins, a carcinogen, which can affect the immune system, cause neurological problems, hormonal imbalances and infertility. When you know that there are close to 150,000 births each year in Canada and that a baby uses approximately 5000 diapers each year, chlorine-free diapers are the logical option.
In keeping with their values, Seventh Generation has launched an annual diaper donation program dedicated to offering chlorine-free diapers to women’s shelters. For every package of diapers sold in August 2010, Seventh Generation will donate one pack to a women’s shelter in Ontario or Quebec. It is anticipated that about 6000 packs of diapers will be donated through this initiative. Seventh Generation chlorine-free diapers are available at Walmart, Loblaws, and the majority of natural health product stores. For more information, go to http://ca.seventhgeneration.com/en/changes-0