The word ‘nursery’ brings up wonderful images for a mother-to-be.
I think of soft toys, rocking horses, pastel-coloured paint, long rests in an armchair and tinkling music. Nurseries are definitely one of the more fun aspects of pregnancy. This is your time to nest – enjoy it.
More and more people are opting out of having a specific room designated as a “nursery”, choosing instead to have their baby and essentials located in their bedroom. This is perfectly understandable – not everyone has the space.
Whichever option you choose, there are a lot of things to consider for vegan mothers: supplies, books, toys, furniture etc. Like most aspects of veganism, it’s a balancing act. A lot of the things I’m thinking about aren’t necessarily “non-vegan” (in that they don’t actually utilise animal products directly). However, they are more environmentally friendly, which to me is at least a fringe vegan issue.
Where do I begin?
Yes, paint is not typically vegan for a variety of reasons. Many paints contain animal bi-products. Some may be tested on our non-human friends. Traditional paints are also often harmful to the environment, which may include your house pets, as well as all the creatures having to live with the toxic chemicals you wash down your drain. Oh, and your baby, of course.
So where can you buy vegan paint? Not surprisingly, the number of options has grown dramatically in the last year or so. Unearthed Paints and Devine Color both offer vegan, VOC free/low VOC paints. Ecos Paints, which come from the UK are also vegan and environmentally friendly.
Unearthed is my favorite option, with paints comprised of mineral pigments coming in powder form and reformulated milk-free milk paint. If you can’t afford one of these options, I suggest that you at least opt for a paint that hasn’t been tested on animals.
So now that walls are taken care of, what about floors? I’m crossing my fingers and praying for hardwood floors (okay, I’m insisting on them – five dogs and carpet don’t mix) but would like to put some kind of soft covering over the floors in the nursery.
Many traditional rugs are made of wool or other animal materials (alpaca and, sometimes, goat hair). So, when you’re shopping, look for rugs made out of alternatives. Natural alternatives include bamboo or cotton, sisal, hemp, jute, and chenille, while man-made alternatives include nylon, acrylic, polyester, and polypropylene. Some synthetic alternatives made out of recycled material can also be found. I happen to love bamboo rugs because they’re so soft, which makes them a nice choice for a baby’s room.
When it comes to bedding, clothing, and accessories, the same rules apply: avoid wool and leather. Stick to natural fibers like bamboo and cotton. While it’s nice to buy (or ask for) organic items, I don’t think it’s a must. We’re also looking at buying a lot of second-hand items, which saves resources and creates less waste. You can buy great second-hand items at baby-centric second-hand shops.
Diapers are a big one: many companies who make disposable diapers also test products on animals. Cloth diapers and disposables made by companies like Seventh Generation are great alternatives to questionable disposables and you’d be amazed at how advanced cloth diapers have become. They come in a wide variety of colors, sizes, and styles. Using cloth diapers helps reduce waste and save resources as well as helps you avoid products tested on animals.
With toiletries and baby products like wipes and bath products and lotions, watch out for products that contain animal ingredients (gelatin is a big one, don’t ask me why) as well as products tested on animals.
If you’re ready to put in a little extra effort, you can easily make your own reusable wipes out of old t-shirts that can be washed and reused and a spray bottle of homemade cleaning solution, or you can use the tried and true “paper towel” method. Read all about it at Wee Baby Stuff. Or once again, you can go the route of products from suppliers like Seventh Generation or Eco-Baby. There’s also a great list of animal friendly baby care companies at Leaping Bunny.