Know your ABCs Given that there are so many options when it comes to choosing baby products, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. When you're considering organic alternatives or specifically seeking eco-friendly products, let this green terminology be your guide:
Bisphenol-A (BPA). A chemical compound sometimes found in plastic products, cosmetics, and foods. Recent studies suggest links between Bisphenol-A and developmental toxicity (e.g., reproductive consequences) and carcinogenic effects (e.g., cancers). Bispenol-A has been found to leach from plastic into food and liquids. Go green tip: Look for "Bisphenol-A free" or "BPA free" on the label.
Fair Trade Manufactured or Certified. Products featuring fair trade labels usually means that they were manufactured or produced in a way that meets certain environmental, labor and developmental standards. Think no child labor.
Lead. Lead is a metal that if ingested or inhaled (think lead dust) can cause lead poisoning, which may result in developmental or behavioral problems, or possibly worse. Given that young children tend to put toys and their hands in their mouths after handling toys, reports of lead in toys makes the threat of lead a growing concern among parents. Go green tip: Look for lead free or lead tested on the label.
Non-toxic. Products marked non-toxic are generally believed to be free of harmful toxins or poisons. For example, toys labeled as having non-toxic finishes should, in theory, be safe for children to chew on, without posing health risks.
Organic. Products or ingredients marked organic usually means that they are grown or processed free of pesticides, artificial fertilizers, radiation, genetic modification, or synthetic additives.
Phthalates. Chemical compounds sometimes found in vinyls, fragrances and beauty products. Studies suggest possible links between exposure to phthalates and effects on human health. Go green tip: Look for Phthalate-free on the label.
PVCs. Polyvinyl chlorides ("PVCs") are chemical polymers used in plastics to make them soft and flexible. There is growing concern that toys made with PVCs can pose health risks to children, such as when children chew on toys, resulting in chemicals leaching out of toys into children's mouths. Go green tip: Look for PVC-free on the label.
Sustainable. A product that is made via sustainable processes or materials means that those processes or materials can last indefinitely. In other words, if managed responsibly, the materials won't run out. That’s good news for the Earth and for future generations. Go green tip: toys made from sustainable, solid woods are generally given green thumbs up.
VOCs. Volatile Organic Compounds ("VOCs") are chemical compounds which when emitted have potential consequences on health. Go green tip: Look for VOC-free on the label.
Know your 123s
Maybe you’ve heard the expression, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” but ever wonder about the meaning of those code numbers imprinted inside triangular recycle symbols? Here's some help:
“1” – Products/packaging contain polyethylene terephthalate. Examples include water bottles and soda bottles.
“2” – Products/packaging contain high-density polyethylene. Examples include laundry detergent bottles and milk jugs.
“3” – Products/packaging contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Examples include baby bottle nipples and vinyl toys.
“4” – Products/packaging contain low-density polyethylene. Examples include plastic grocery bags.
“5” – Products/packaging contain polypropylene. Examples include yogurt or sour cream containers.
“6” – Products/packaging contain polystyrene. Examples include Styrofoam packing peanuts and coffee cups.
“7” – Products/packaging contain a hodge-podge of plastic #1-6 chemical polymers (a.k.a. the miscellaneous category).