Rugs and carpets
A good quality wool carpet is a more eco friendly choice for your eco nursery than a synthetic nylon one. Wool is a sustainable product which is naturally fire retardant without the need for chemical coatings. If using rugs, choose ones which are machine washable and preferably made from natural fibres.
Natural fibres used in carpets and rugs include:
Natural fibre rugs are available through a range of eco friendly retailers such as Naked Flooring Company.
If you decide to use your room’s original carpet when creating your eco nursery, be wary of adding additional chemicals into the room’s atmosphere by using professional carpet cleaners or bottled spot cleaners, which contain a variety of harsh chemicals and can be a source of VOCs. If using a professional cleaner, ask them if their cleaning products are safe. Natural, environmentally friendly spot cleaners are also available which can remove stains on a variety of surfaces without releasing VOCs.
Curtains and blinds
Choosing curtains made from lightweight, natural fibres such as bamboo has a lower environmental impact than synthetic fabrics or non organic cotton. Ensure any curtains are washed regularly to prevent the build up of dust or allergens. By opting for blinds, which provide harder surfaces than fabric curtains, you can prevent the build up of dust mites and other allergens by dusting regularly. Wooden slat blinds are versatile and effective at restricting the flow of daylight and are a good ecological choice when sourced from sustainable forests.
While recycling and reusing furniture is a great way of keeping it out of the waste stream and reducing your demand on new resources, care needs to be taken when using old items of furniture in your new nursery. Cots made before 1988 are at risk of being coated with lead paint. Lead paint, particularly if chipped or peeling, can put your baby at risk of lead poisoning, and there is even an increased risk if you handle any lead-containing product while pregnant. There are ways of stripping and removing lead paint from old items of furniture such as cots, but this is best left to professionals who have experience in handling toxic paints.
MDF is another concern when reusing an old cot. When cut or sanded, MDF releases a cloud of dust which can irritate the nose, throat and chest. It is also bound together with formaldehyde resins during its manufacture, which poses a threat as a category 3 carcinogen. Due to these risks, it is usually worth buying a sturdy, long-lasting cot made from sustainably sourced wood for your eco nursery rather than cheaper particleboard.
Chairs and sofas
It is usually wise to minimize how many soft furnishings you use in your eco nursery in order to prevent the manifestation of dust mites amongst the fabric and cushions. Wooden chairs and benches may be less comfortable, but are easy to dust to keep free of mites and allergens. For some extra comfort, add a couple of natural fibre cushions, which can also be removed regularly for washing.