Feature

A – Z of eco kids

G Magazine

They’re the cute and cuddly inheritors of our planet, but if we’re to pass on a world that is brilliant rather than broken, we need to ensure our babies are as green, ethical and healthy as they are gorgeous.

kids-alphabet

Credit: iStockphoto

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Asthma & Allergies

As pollution and climate change rise, so too do the number of kids with asthma and allergies. The World Health Organisation is predicting a rise of 20 per cent over the next 10 years in asthma cases, while declaring that climate change is the biggest health issue humans will face in the next century.

Currently, one in 8-9 children are diagnosed as having asthma. To help yourself and your child adapt to environmental conditions and care for health, avoid too much air conditioning, avoid smoking at all (or at least around your children), eat healthy and organic produce, and work to reduce toxins in the home with a few plants and organic, non-toxic products.

BPA

BPA is the acronym for ‘Bisphenol A’, a chemical found in many plastics, and also used as a coating on the inside of most food and drink cans. In high doses it has known negative health effects on both adults and children, especially on early brain development. In the European Union and Canada, BPA is banned from baby bottles but it remains present in most bottles sold in Australia and New Zealand. Avoid BPA by not storing or heating food in BPA-plastics and choosing BPA-free toys, water bottles, baby bottles, food storage containers and plastic crockery. Green to Grow is a great BPA-free baby bottle, available for $19.95 from www.natureschild.com.au.

Clothing

Keep your kids in eco-style by choosing organic or recycled materials where possible. Accept hand-me-downs from friends and family’s kids, shop at op shops, organise a kiddy clothes swap with friends or neighbours, and choose linen, hemp or organic cotton. G loves Gaia Organic Cotton Striped All in One for $34.95 (www.gaiaorganiccotton.com.au), and Nature Baby Organic Merino Stretch and Grow for $69.95, (www.naturebaby.com).

Decorating

5 ways to… Green your child’s bedroom
It’s the haven we spend much time setting up, however many conventional furnishings and paints can be packed with toxins. Ensure few chemicals with these five easy ways.
1. Paint
Chances are you’ve heard of VOCs – Volatile Organic Compounds – the chemical cocktail behind the new paint smell. Many paint brands sell no, or low, VOC content paints which, these days, are very well performing. Try Ecolour (www.ecolour.com.au), or Bio Wall Paint (www.thenaturalpaintplace.com.au).
2. Furniture
In most cases, the newer the furniture, the more toxins it’s still emitting, so do your child – and your wallet – a favour and hunt around for second-hand buys. Cots are fairly temporary items and are easy to find second-hand, while there are great DIY guides online for turning many old pieces of furniture such as a chest of drawers into a change table.
3. Flooring
While we might look to carpet as a softer landing for boisterous babies, most are petroleum-based, and treated with a wide range of chemicals. If organic wool carpet isn’t an option for your home, why not invest in a rug. Choose from a range of options including organic, hemp, fair trade, naturally-dyed and woollen floor coverings.
4. Linen
Make sure the hours your child spends in dreamland are chemical-free with organic sheets and blankets. The typical sheet will see around 500 grams of fertiliser and pesticides even before processing, so take the friendly alternative for both child and environment, and opt for organic cotton or hemp linen. Try Ecolinen, www.ecolinen.com.au.
5. Plants
Nothing sucks toxins and chemicals from a room and replaces it with fresh oxygen quite like a plant. Placing one or two indoor plants in the room, such as a Peace Lily (Sathiphyllum sp.) or fern will go a long way toward fresh air.

Early days

When pregnant, everything you put into your body – both food and chemical – is affecting your bub. Try these tips to ensure your little bundle of joy pops out as healthy and toxin-free as possible.
- Choose glass over plastic, especially when heating food.
- Eat plenty of healthy, organic (to avoid pesticides) fresh fruit and green leafy vegetables to help keep up your intake of folic acid and iron.
- Avoid eating large fish such as tuna – not only because they’re overfished, but also because they’re high in mercury.
- Choose natural, organic, petrochemical-free skincare and hygiene products.
- It goes without saying to not smoke and stay well away from people who are smoking.
- Use cookware that’s in good nick, without scratches on the Teflon, or opt for non-toxic
pans such as Neoflam (www.neoflam.com.au).
- Avoid renovating the house during pregnancy as a lot of old-fashioned building materials are toxic – for example, older paint contained unsafe levels of lead, and many old houses have asbestos in their roofs.

Food

Most food in the supermarket is based on convenience and disposability – but this decreases the nutritional value and increases the environmental impact. Pre-packaged food has been linked to learning difficulties and even attention deficit disorder (ADD) in children. For infants, breast is best as it not only uses less resources, but many milk formulas contain genetically-modified soy. For babies 6 – 12 months, invest in a handheld blender and purée what the family is eating (before salt is added), but keep the flavour combinations simple.

Gardening

3 of the best… Gardening activities for kids
Grubby garden hands mean a stronger immune system, as early exposure to germs has shown lower rates of health problems later in life. Plus, kids with green thumbs will grow into more self-sufficient, nature-loving adults! Try these top ways to involve kids in the design and evolution of your garden.
Seed collecting: Choose the tastiest vegies with the best traits to pass on, then wash, dry and store the seeds in an airtight bag before planting. Don’t save seeds from produce from large supermarket chains though, as they are usually sterile – go for certified organic.
Growing food: Kids are more likely to eat their greens if they’ve grown them. Have them plant them in the beginning to keep them excited about the growth. Beans and snow peas are tasty fast-growing crops.
Animal surveys: Draw a ‘wildlife map’ showing which animals (don’t forget insects!) are found in different parts of the garden, including in the soil – take a torch out at night and surprise the kids with how different their day versus night time maps are!

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