As Earth Day approaches, Classy Mommy talks with Christopher Gavigan, Chief Executive Officer of Healthy Child Healthy World, and author of the new book, Healthy Child, Healthy World. Read this interview to find out his thoughts and advice on creating a safe nursery, what to look out for in skincare products, cleaning agents and more!
Classy Mommy loved his new book as it shares insights packaged with easy tips about how to live a cleaner and greener life in our very own homes. I especially like how each chapter focuses on specific topics – from cleaning agents, skincare items, organic foods, pregnancy, etc. sharing solutions and tips on how we can avoid potentially harmful chemicals to better protect both ourselves, our children, and our environment. This format will enable readers to quickly use this book again and again as a wonderful reference book and resource.
Classy Mommy: I find having children inspires many Moms & Dads to better themselves as we all want to be role models for our kids and make the world a better place for them to grow up in. As CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World and by publishing this book you are certainly doing your part already! As a new Daddy, how has your perspective on giving back changed since the birth of your son Luke?
That’s exactly right – parents need to be effective, honest, inspired role models, and I’m hopeful this book will have some impact on parents in my generation and everyone who loves children. My philosophy, which I hope Luke will understand and support, is that the more you give, the more you get – so giving back has always been something I feel is important for me, no matter what.
Classy Mommy: What is the easiest way to create a non-toxic nursery environment? (organic crib mattress, organic bedding, safe paint, no carpet etc.)
Realize it’s not about buying “the stuff”. Yes, we all need to purchase more wisely, know the companies, and buy cleaner, greener, and less toxic products. But this is not only about green consumerism. It’s about simplifying and lightening our load. You can improve your home’s health by taking off your shoes – tracking in 80% less dirt, grime, pesticides, resides, and less-than pleasant particulate matter. Opening your windows – a simple action that doesn’t require a wallet, but that does a world of good.
Organic crib mattresses are wonderful, since babies are sleeping about 14 hours a day on average. When creating your nursery, use paints with little or no VOCs and try to eliminate the carpeting, which also are know to off-gas chemicals that can affect indoor air quality.
Classy Mommy: The BPA in baby bottles has received a lot of buzz recently. I’m making “safer” choices for my 4 month old son today as I didn’t know about many of these issues when my 2 year old daughter was an infant. What other potentially harmful chemicals in baby products, baby foods, and vaccinations do you think need to be brought to the public’s attention so parents can make smarter choices?
3 big ones: Check these websites for more info too.
Flame Retardants: PBDE’s http://healthychild.org/resources/chemical/polybrominated_diphenyl_ether
Classy Mommy: What ingredients in household cleaning agents and laundry detergents should Parents try to avoid?
Use gentle castile soap and water – these have been shown to keep surfaces as free of bacteria as antibacterial soaps do. In fact, antibacterial soaps and disposable wipes have not proven any more effective than regular soap in preventing infections among average consumers, but raise significant concerns about developing resistant bacteria. Also, triclosan commonly used in antibacterial product may be problematic.
Buy Safer Cleaning Products – many local, online, and discount stores carry cleaning and home products that are very effective without harsh chemicals or fumes. Or make your own safer cleaning products with typical household products .
Look for with safer ingredients – cleaning products labeled nontoxic, bio-based, chlorine-free, organic, phosphate-free, natural fragrance, and/or biodegradable. Learn to read a label.
Reduce the need for anti-bacterial soaps by frequently requiring hand washing.
Classy Mommy: Skin and hair care labels can be very confusing to read. Any advice on reading these labels to minimize exposure? Particularly when it comes to parabens or other potential “endocrine” disruptors as it seems like this is a big deal for developing children.
You are right labels are difficult – but if you spend time looking and learning key words, it’s easier than you think. To start, look for products made of organic botanical oils, paraben-free, preservative-free, petroleum-free, and vegetable-derived surfactants.
Avoid body care products with toxic synthetic preservatives (parabens), petroleum-based ingredients, sodium lauryl and laureth sulfates -1,4-Dioxane, synthetic fragrances and artificial colors, formaldehyde donors and other proven harmful chemicals.
Here is a great resource for kid’s personal care items:
Classy Mommy: What are your plans for the future?
To love and support my family everyday and in everyway.
Classy Mommy: Luke is still young – but how do you hope to instill core values about caring for the environment in him?
The birth of Luke has further galvanized my commitment to help educate the public and do every bit I can to empower individuals to realize that their actions affect others – we are all part of this larger earth system – it’s not out there – and we can improve our behaviors to lighten our impacts on these systems for the benefit of future generation’s well-being and health.