Kids naturally gravitate to softness and warmth, whether its a snuggly blanket or a soft landing spot. For its practicality and affordability, cotton is a great fiber for everything from bedding to towels. But toxic finishes labeled as “easy care,” “permanent press,” “wrinkle-free” or “no iron” have an unhealthy side. As the NY Times reports, the resin that makes textiles “wrinkle free” releases formaldehyde, a toxin linked to contact dermatitis and other adverse health effects. The International Agency for Research on Cancer considers formaldehyde a known human carcinogen.
What’s more, conventionally-grown cotton is one of the most pesticide-intensive crops on the planet. “According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 84 million pounds of pesticides were applied” in addition to “two billion pounds of fertilizers…on the same fields. Seven of the 15 pesticides commonly used on cotton in the United States are listed as ‘possible,’ ‘likely,’ ‘probable’ or ‘known’ human carcinogens by the Environmental Protection Agency” reports the National Wildlife Federation. Thankfully, there are easy ways to switch to healthier options.
The solution? Cotton without the “easy care” finishes, and if possible, made with organic cotton. If it sounds expensive, it’s time to take a look at some super affordable options!
For Baby – A baby’s layette is a great place to start, with organics increasingly available at big box stores (BuyBuy Baby, etc). In support of locally-owned, brick-and-mortar stores, there’s GreenDepot and the beautiful Hudson Street Organic Baby & Kids, the first organic baby store in northern NJ. LifeKind is an easy, go-to online resource with both practical and hard-to-find items, especially for those with chemical sensitivities.
For the whole family – Gaiam jersey cotton sheets withstand just about anything kids can dish out. They last year after year, hold their color and are naturally wrinkle resistant (without the formaldehyde finish in “no iron” cotton sheets). For organic woven cotton sheets, Threshold brand (at Target) are economical and wear well. Like Gaiam sheets, they’re available in a range of colors and patterns. For something more luxe, Coyuchi, West Elm and Pottery Barn’s organic cotton options deliver.
For the bath – Organic cotton towels and shower curtains from LifeKind, Coyuchi, Pottery Barn and Viva Terra make decorating the bath easy. Some sites offer coupons for first-time orders, seasonal clearances, as well as regular discounts to email subscribers.
Organic cotton is an easy way to bring warmth to a space without toxic pesticides and finishes, making all our communities a little healthier.