Blinds: My “Green” Nursery Challenge

By Jessica Provenz | Updated Mar 4, 2014 5:38 PM

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Green Nursery

Photo: Jessica Provenz

In week three of My “Green” Nursery Challenge, I saw the light… but wished I hadn’t!

My father-in-law pointed out that the crib would be showered by morning rays. I hadn’t noticed since the new nursery was our former storage room. Only the cat spent time there, and now I got it—Menelaus loves to bathe in sunlight. Our nursery wasn’t just bright, it was bright and bright early!  Giving the baby an east-facing room was a major oversight by this over-planner.

My solution: black-out blinds! Sure, they might mess with our baby’s circadian rhythm, but at least he’d err on the side of night. Everything else would wait—sleeping, eating, Kegels—until I made the nursery fit for an airline pilot.

Our plastic-coated blinds were installed by the builder a decade ago.  My trusty resource, Dr. Michael C. Lu’s “Get Ready to Get Pregnant”, gave me further reason to trash those and investigate which blinds are baby no-nos:

Plastic blinds (with PVC) can give off chemicals, especially when exposed to heat

Blinds with cords are a strangulation hazard

Vinyl blinds may contain toxic phthalates (substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity), according to Dr. Lu.  Additionally, the Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC) has found that vinyl mini blinds manufactured before 1997 may contain high amounts of lead, which is hazardous to children under six.

A visit to specialty shops educated me that blinds can cost thousands of dollars—who knew?

My parents offered their discarded, lovely cloth Hunter Douglas blinds, but they were 3 inches too wide. A professional quoted me hundreds of dollars to have them cut down, cleaned and hung. I was certain I could do better.

Redi Shade Easy Touch black out blinds bob vila green nursery

Redi Shade Easy Touch Cellular Blinds

Sure enough: Amazon had white black-out shades that were cordless and width adjustable (shipped with a special knife).  They weren’t the quality of those $1,300 Hunter Douglas beauties, but—at $40—they were just what this mom-to-be ordered.  Other pluses, they are 100% recyclable, sourced from sustainable forests, energy efficient, and provide protection from 99.99% of UV rays.

Days later, I stood on a ladder at 1 AM juggling screws, a tape measure and drill. My husband suggested I come to bed, but fear of our baby sleeping in a sun-drenched room kept me drilling. The shades were everything I wanted: easy, affordable, attractive, and safe. Best of all, in the middle of the day, the room was black as midnight!

For a touch of color, I opted for valances (easier to wash than curtains). I learned synthetic or treated fabrics also release toxins when exposed to sunlight. Better to use untreated natural fabrics with nontoxic dyes like organic cotton, linen, hemp, bamboo and wool.  For $7 each, I ordered a pair of organic cotton valances. You can’t even see a movie for $7!

For another $20, I purchased a steel curtain rod from Home Depot making week three my most affordable one yet:

Blinds: $80 ($40 each)
Valances: $14 ($7 each)
Curtain rod: $20
Total = $114.00

$1,095 remained of my $2,000 budget.

The day after installing the blinds, I was overjoyed to find the nursery pitch black at 7 AM. Menelaus was not!

For more on creating a “green” nursery, consider:

The “Green” Nursery Challenge
Installing Insulated Windows in the Nursery
Tour a Completed Nursery for the Newborn