Whether it’s a cozy nook or a wide-open room, your littles deserve a sanctuary all their own to play, explore, and unwind in. Give them a space that’s both safe and sustainable with these simple guidelines and great finds to create your own eco-friendly playroom.
Steer clear of couches and chairs with flame-resistant or stain-guard fabric that may contain per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) or perfluorinated chemicals. Known as forever chemicals meant to repel water, grease, and stains, PFAS are persistent in the body and do not break down. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), they have been linked to increased cholesterol, multiple cancers, and weight gain. They are particularly harmful for kids who are still developing, weakening their immune systems and harming their endocrine systems.
Look for furniture made from materials like cotton, solid wood, wool, and latex foam.
This Sprout Adjustable Montessori Weaning Table is the ideal place to let creativity flow. All Sprout furniture is made from sustainably sourced CARB (California Air Resources Board) Compliant Baltic Birch plywood. (Starting at $130, sprout-kids.com)
Shelving units made from laminate wood or particle board may contain glues that emit formaldehyde fumes, a known human carcinogen. The EWG suggests opting for composite wood that doesn’t contain formaldehyde or one certified by the California Air Resources Board to emit low levels of formaldehyde.
Solid wood that’s certified for responsible forest management by the Forest Stewardship Council is a safe bet. We also suggest cotton canvas or woven baskets to store smaller toys.
Available in multiple colors and sizes, this adorable Striped Sisal Basket from The Little Market can hold all your kid’s craft supplies, little trinkets, and more for a stylish and playful organization solution. The Little Market ethically sources its baskets through fair trade practices from female artisans in Kenya, offering them dignified income opportunities. (Starting at $22, thelittlemarket.com)
Mats and Rugs
Kids of all ages spend much of their time on the floor so opt for nontoxic, natural materials like wool, jute, or organic cotton and nontoxic dye in your rugs.
For playmats, avoid polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic. To make the PVC plastic softer, harmful chemicals like phthalates and lead are added. These chemicals can disrupt the endocrine and nervous systems. Other chemicals to avoid are BPA, flame-retardants, and formamide.
You don’t need to compromise on style with this chic and modern reversible Play Mat made from wander & roam. All mats are made from non-toxic foam and are free of latex, BPA, PVC, and formamide. (Starting at $129, amazon.com)
Many plastic toys are made of PVC plastic, so it’s best to read the labels before you buy. Play jewelry can often contain heavy metals like lead and cadmium, too. It’s especially important to know where and how your child’s play food is made since it may often find its way into their mouths. Likewise, some play makeup has been shown to contain asbestos, a known carcinogen.
Safer toy options include those made from non-toxic dye, silicone, sustainable wood, organic cotton, and wool.
Made from food safe, 100% recycled plastic milk containers, Green Toys Sandwich Shop lets your little craft a sub with all the fixings. (Starts at $19.99, greentoys.com)
Household paints may contain harmful chemical solvents that can vaporize into the air at room temperature, known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs create poor indoor air quality that can last for years. The EWG notes that these chemicals can cause short-term health issues like dizziness and headaches as well as long term effects to the liver and nervous system.
Opt for paints in your eco-friendly playroom that are Green Seal-11 Certified (guarantees the limits of VOC and other harmful chemicals), water-based latex, and no or low VOC (less than 50 g VOCs per liter) says the EWG.
Easily washable for your kid’s messy moments, Ecos Paints Nursery Paint is zero VOC and odorless. (Starting at $36.95 for a quart, ecospaints.com)
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