Note from Michael: This article was contributed by Susan Doris, co-founder of Robbie Adrian; who offer a line of certified organic cotton and silk trimmed blankets for babies, toddlers and adults. Robbie Adrian have also kindly offered Green Living Tips readers a 15% discount on their entire range – get the coupon code here!
Looking for ways to make better choices for your family and the environment? Look no further than that soft, innocent looking blanket in the nursery! Many parents have no idea about the environmental impact they make when they reach for that snuggly baby blanket off the store shelf. Many baby (and adult blankets!) contain some very “un-snuggly” chemicals and materials!
What are the environmental issues with typical baby blankets?
The two traditional baby blankets on the market are polyester chenille fiber blankets or conventional cotton blankets – both types of blankets have environmental issues of which parents should be aware. Take the soft and fuzzy, polyester chenille blanket. Many parents are surprised to learn, that the chemical compound used to produce polyester blankets is identical to that used for plastic water bottles – polyethylene terephthalate.
To make polyester, crude oil is broken down into petrochemicals, which are then converted with heat and catalysts such as antimony, into the plastic that forms both plastic soda bottles and polyester fibers – PETE. Between the use of a non-renewable resource, the toxicity of the chemicals involved in production and some of the health concerns with the various additives and catalysts, the production of polyester has some distressing health and environmental issues.
Regarding cotton blankets, while cotton itself is a natural fiber it requires the use of large amounts of pesticides and fertilizers to grow. The US Environmental Protection agency has labeled 7 of the 15 pesticides used on cotton as either “known” or “likely” carcinogens.
The pesticides and fertilizers applied to cotton fields can run off in groundwater, become airborne or end up in the food chain through cottonseed oil, which is used in processed foods, and cottonseed, which is fed to beef and dairy cattle. The bottom line is that one conventional cotton tee shirt takes approximately one third of a pound of chemicals to produce, estimates the Sustainable Cotton Project.
So, what’s an eco-friendly parent to do?
Today, thankfully there are several good options that are both better for your baby and better for the environment which are both attractive and many are reasonably priced. There are natural fibers such as bamboo, cashmere and merino wool, and perhaps the most readily available natural fiber is organic cotton.
Organic cotton blankets are a good alterative, as they have all the comfort and wear benefits of cotton, but are grown naturally without chemical additives, and so are better for baby and the environment. Look for labels that read, “certified organic”, which means that the cotton has been grown and processed according to USDA standards verified by independent state or private organizations.
If you are looking for the best choices for your family and the environment, it comes down to learning the impacts of the things we do and the products we buy – even on something as everyday and innocent as your baby’s (or your) blanket. Once you know the consequence of your selections, you can make the best choices for your family and the earth.
About the author: Susan Doris is co-founder of Robbie Adrian luxury organic blankets, a line of certified organic cotton and silk trimmed blankets for babies, toddlers and adults. Robbie Adrian blankets are available online at www.robbieadrian.com, or check the web site for stores in your area. The company has also kindly offered Green Living Tips readers a 15% discount on their entire range – get your coupon code here!