Constance Marie’s Blog: Greening My Baby!
It’s been an interesting month with celebrity blogger Constance Marie! So far, we’ve met the family, gone “into the trenches,” learned all about cloth diapers and have gone through the ups and downs of her fertility fight.
This week, the actress — who lives in California with her fiancé, yoga instructor Kent Katich, and their 16-month-old daughter, Luna Marie — tells PEOPLE Moms & Babies about going green when designing a nursery for her baby girl.
Courtesy Constance Marie
Once again ladies, you impress me so much! I read your comments — THANK YOU for so openly sharing your stories! We are all paying it forward to help other women and letting them know they are not alone.
My new topic: Your organic baby!
Okay — so you’re probably thinking, “Oy, she’s gonna talk about all that earthy, crunchy, non-toxic stuff now. Who has time to research all that?” Well, if you read my last blog, you’d understand that I had a really long time to investigate why I wasn’t getting pregnant and what could be contributing to my lack of fertility. I had nothing but time and I read everything! Research was all I could do! It was the only thing that helped me feel a little bit in control — and I LOVE control! Just ask Kent!
Once I became pregnant with Luna Marie I realized, “If I detoxified my environment, wouldn’t I apply all this knowledge to keep my baby as non-toxic as possible as well?” I saw how Bisphenol A (BPA), mercury and other chemicals were affecting my body and wondered how it would affect my baby once she was born.
Everyone says a certain amount of toxins in acceptable levels are fine. Well, that example of acceptable usually done with a model that uses a 155 lbs. man as the test subject, not an infant with an immune system three times more vulnerable than that of an adult, Dr. Sanjay Gupta said on the recent Toxic America CNN special. Out of the approximately 83,000 chemicals we are exposed to daily, only 220 have been studied to see if they are safe for us humans!
Thus began my organic baby journey. I had my precious, pure little baby on the way and I had to make sure I didn’t bring her home to a dirty, germy, chemical-ridden world.
Courtesy Constance Marie
My research showed that the nursery is one of the most toxic rooms in the house. Why? Because EVERYTHING is new! Made with new glues, new paints, varnishes, flame-retardants and pesticides and your baby breathes in all these fumes as they sleep. The toxins are there for years!
Are you thinking, “Ugh, going green is hard and expensive. Now I gotta make my nursery drab and ugly?” Not so! If you have seen all the photos I’ve been sharing, they’re all taken in Luna Marie’s 90 percent green nursery. Yea, I said, 90 percent! I am not perfect — 90 percent was all I could do. Every bit counts!
Here are the four things I started with:
1) Paint — That’s where we all start, right? We want our perfect little baby to wake up to a room that makes them feel loved and happy. Well, the problem with paint is that it can off-gas things called volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). These are toxic fumes and are in the air for up to a year. One of these gases is formaldehyde — a known carcinogen! CRAP! That is not what I wanted my baby to wake up to! I had to find an alternative.
To my surprise, the answer was pretty simple — and inexpensive! Lots of brands now sell low VOC or zero VOC paint — even Benjamin Moore sells some. When Kent and his dad painted the room — we used Safecoat — as soon as it dried, BAM! No VOCs! My baby’s air was gonna be clean.
2) Crib — The average baby can spend up to 15 hours a day in their crib — if you’re blessed with a sleeper, which I hope you are! The baby’s crib is put together with particle board, which contains glues that off-gas. Then the wood is coated with paint or varnish that off-gases. If it’s shipped from overseas, they spray it with pesticides and then they off gas! Holy crap! I thought to myself, “Man, is there no end to this off-gasing thing?! Getting a solid wood crib is gonna be frickin’ expensive!”
Well ladies, to my surprise, the least expensive crib I found was the greenest! Who knew? It was made of solid wood, good old-fashioned screws and not painted! Instead, it just had a coat of organic linseed oil. I found it at Green Cradle. I LOVE this store — it’s the greenest baby store I have found! In fact, if you mention “Luna” on the site or in the store they will give you a discount.
A friend who wanted to give me a beautiful, imported, elegant, painted crib thought I was crazy — Well, I am a little crazy, it’s sorta an occupational hazard … but I digress. When I saw my little Luna Marie chewing on the bars, I knew I had made the right choice!
3) Mattress — A baby spends the longest, most uninterrupted time lying on the mattress … face down, curled up, drooling, looking adorable and so vulnerable. However, while they’re there looking so cute, there are up to 39 toxins being released into the air from an average inner spring mattress, Walter Bader writes in his book Toxic Bedrooms. Gasp! Is there no end? Flame-retardants, formaldehyde and so many others with long names that I won’t even bother trying to spell! Let’s just say that they aren’t good for your baby to breathe!
But don’t panic! They now make organic cotton and natural fiber mattresses, among many others that are way better for your baby. Whew — thank God!
As for me, I high-tailed it back to Green Cradle and bought a natural rubber mattress. It doesn’t off-gas, it’s anti-microbial and dust mites can’t live in it. It’s pretty darn comfy too! When I put little Luna Marie down, I knew she would be getting a good night’s rest. Lord knows, I needed one!
4) Air Purifier — Last but so not least, if you can only do one thing I suggest this one! The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated indoor air to be 7-100 times more polluted than outdoor air. Because all of our stuff — TVs, plastic, carpet, wood floors, computers, etc. — emits chemicals into the air that you and your babies breathe. Investing in an air purifier is a must! Unfortunately, it does nothing for bad breath, BO and poop smell. :)
Courtesy Constance Marie
I know it’s a lot of info. As moms we don’t have a lot of time, and there are 50 million things we’re doing simultaneously. We can’t do everything perfectly. I say, “Start slow and just do the best you can!”
There are many, many other things you can do to green your baby’s world. Limit the BPA, lead, phalates and PVC in your baby’s life. I could go on and on! I know that it’s more than a little scary to know about all the toxic stuff out there. But the good news is that, as moms, we have a lot of power — the power of where we spend our money! If we were only to buy green/organic things for our babies, I guarantee that manufacturers would put less toxins in everything.
Moms literally can change the world — even if it is one toy at a time!
To help you while I am working on my book, Greening My Baby’s World, I’m going to give you a great resource. I found it so helpful. It’s a book called Greenopia. It’s like a Zagat guide to all things green! Want a green dry cleaner? Baby store? Carpet cleaner? Just look it up!
Uh oh — my time is up! Luna Marie is screaming, “Mama! Mama!” Daddy has been in charge for the last hour — I hope she hasn’t climbed the stove again! Gotta go!
Courtesy Constance Marie
— Constance Marie