An eco-friendly baby gift shows that you are thinking of the future of the planet along with the future of the new arrival, and that you want the world to be a healthy place as baby grows older. Green gifts are also typically safer for newborns, as they lack the chemicals that can be present in conventional items.
Exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical often used in manufacturing plastic baby bottles, can affect the development of a baby's brain and endocrine system, according to the Washington Department of Health (See Reference 1). If you want to give a new parent bottles or other serving devices for baby to use as he grows, consider giving glass items, which are durable and won't leach chemicals like BPA. You can also give plastic bottles that do not contain BPA; these bottles are usually labeled BPA-free. Another option is to give a stainless steel sippy cup, which the baby can grow into and use as a toddler.
Organic and Sustainable Textiles
You have plenty of options for a baby gift made from a sustainable fabric. Look for baby blankets and stuffed animals made from soft reclaimed wool or organic cotton. Other organic cotton options include crib sheets and mattresses. Unlike cotton that is grown conventionally, organic cotton does not require the use of toxic pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. In addition, you can find many gifts that are made of recycled materials, such as fleece outerwear made from upcycled polyester and other recycled synthetics.
Check with the parents to see if they intend to use cloth or disposable diapers. Although reusable cloth diapers are the most earth-friendly, there are good gift options for both preferences. If the parents want to use disposable diapers, pick up a package of diapers made without chlorine bleach or latex. Look for biodegradable brands, too. Biodegradable diapers take up to a year to break down, compared to 450 years for conventional diapers, according to the EPA (See References 3). Families that decide to use cloth diapers will appreciate a supply of diapers made from organic cotton. Another option for a cloth-diaper family is to give the gift of a diaper service. The service picks up used diapers weekly and washes them (Reference 2).
Clothing your baby once wore makes an excellent green gift, as long as it is clean and in great condition. Don't try to give away baby clothes that have stains or tears. Check with the family first, as some parents may not appreciate secondhand clothing. Hand-me-downs conserve resources, as no new materials are needed to make the gift. Plus, giving away clothing you no longer need keeps it out of a landfill. You can also give other hand-me-downs, such as toys and cribs, to expectant parents.
Based in Pennsylvania, A. Elizabeth Freeman has been writing professionally since 2007, when she started writing theater reviews for OffOffOnline.com and Theater Talk's New Theater Corps blog. Since then, she has written for Phillyist, TheNest, ModernMom and "Rhode Island Home and Design" magazine, among others. Freeman has an M.F.A. in dramaturgy/theater criticism from CUNY/Brooklyn College.
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