With any environmentally responsible purchase you make, it is essential to know where the products come from and what the manufacturing process involves. We hope that this environmentally kind toy buying guide will help you choose the right toys for your children.
What is an Environmentally Responsible Toy?
How to choose environmentally responsible groceries or cleaning agents might seem obvious. But how do you choose responsible toys? What makes a toy responsible? In short, responsible toys are better for the environment in some way.
- Environmentally responsible toys are manufactured without materials, paints, or dyes that are toxic to your family or the environment.
- Toys manufactured responsibly do not result in emissions of chemical toxins, carbon, or greenhouse gases which may pollute our oceans and waterways.
- Toys made locally will leave less of a carbon footprint than those shipped from abroad.
- Environmentally responsible toys are made from kind sourced materials.
- Kind toys are recyclable or may break down completely with time.
Wooden Environmentally Kind Toys
Environmentally responsible toys are most often made with wood instead of plastics. Here are a few points to bear in mind when choosing responsible wooden children’s toys.
- Look for wood that has been kindly sourced.
- Avoid toys made from wood from slow-growing trees such as oak.
- Wooden toys made from faster-growing trees such as birch or maple are a good option.
- Look out for wooden toys with FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification. This is a good indicator that the business sources from responsibly managed forests.
Natural rubber can be responsibly harvested. There is a lot to love about toys made from natural rubber. They are:
Have you ever heard of Sophie La Girafe? This incredibly popular baby teething toy is made from 100 % natural rubber.
Toys Made from Organic Wool or Cotton
For the first two years, babies explore most of their world with their mouths. When they play with toys made from organic textiles you can rest easy knowing that that tiny little body isn’t being exposed to unnecessary pesticides and production chemicals.
Why Invest in Kind Toys?
When you are raising a child, it seems to become harder than ever to reduce your plastic consumption. Many of the items that make our lives easier and help us balance the many facets of parenthood are plastic-heavy. Disposable diapers, baby wipes, soothers, toys, gadgets, snacks for on-the-go, the list is seemingly endless.
Environmentally responsible toys often have a higher price tag than plastic equivalents. This is because these toys are usually handmade as opposed to being produced in a factory en masse. In addition, the materials used for kind toys are typically more costly.
Despite all of this, there are several reasons why we should think twice about the toys that we buy for our kids.
Less is More
When buying toys for your children, choose quality over quantity. Contrary to what the marketers will have you believe; your kids do not need ALL the toys. Trust me, you will be grateful down the line when there are fewer toys to tidy up! Also, several studies have shown that children with exposure to fewer toys engage in deeper, more imaginative play. Being surrounded by a myriad of toys hampers focus and attention. It also reduces the quality of a child’s playtime.
Kind Toys Mean Fewer Toxins
Toys made from plastic may contain chemical softeners that may lead to hormonal disturbances in a growing child. Stuffed toys may contain flame retardants that can hinder a child's natural development.
Once they break or reach the end of their life, plastic toys often end up in landfills. It takes centuries for them to break down, all the while leaching toxins and greenhouse gases into the environment.
How to Reduce Waste When Choosing Toys
Raising environmentally kind children starts at home. It starts with the objects and ideals that surround them from an early age. Choosing responsible toys is a big part of that education for them.
1. Buy Quality Products
Mass-produced children's toys are not made to last. They often break within a few months of use and then end up in a landfill. Quality handmade products may last a lifetime and could even be passed on to the next generation.
2. Look for Second-Hand Toys
Shopping for second-hand toys is one of the best ways to get responsible toys for your children. Look around your neighborhood for children's thrift stores to stock up on pre-loved toys.
3. Batteries Not Included
Battery-powered toys can be super exciting. However, batteries can be a choking hazard to young children. In addition, battery production leaves behind an extensive trail of toxic waste. Instead of battery-operated toys, choose toys that children power with their hands, voices, and imaginations!
4. Get Outside
Entertaining your children does not always need to be toy-centric. Playing with rocks, picking leaves and flowers, and paddling in the water will mean as much to their development as an educational toy. Go for a picnic in the forest. If you live near the ocean, go and search for starfish in the rockpools.
Reduce Reuse Recycle: Make Your Own Toys
There are so many ideas for toys that you can make at home using items that you would usually throw away. Around twelve months old, your little one will reach the posting phase. It coincides with them coming to grips with the idea of object permanence. They are very curious about taking things out and putting things into a container. A simple posting toy that you can make at home uses a clean tin can with a plastic lid and plastic bottle tops. Using a craft knife, cut a hole in the plastic lid big enough for the bottle tops.
Your toddler will enjoy posting all the bottle tops through the hole and then pouring them all out again and starting over! An upgrade for when you want to start teaching them to count: Using a sharpie, write the numbers one through ten on the bottle tops and get them to post the caps into the tin in the correct order. For tactile development, change the plastic bottle tops for pieces of scrap fabric in different colors and textures.
Repurpose an old plastic bucket into a drum. Or make a plucking instrument using elastic bands and a used milk bottle.
Make wire sculpture art with your kids using scrap wooden blocks, flexible garden wire, and loose beads that you have lying around.
For older kids, a homemade kite provides hours of entertainment!
Making the Switch to Environmentally Kind Toys
A common obstacle when choosing the plastic-free route is getting friends and family on board when gifting season comes around. If you can, speak gently to loved ones about your preferences for environmentally kind toys. To make it easier for them to find suitable items, you can put together a wish list. You can also make suggestions for them to buy your children experiences rather than physical gifts. A horse-riding lesson perhaps, or a granny-and-me pedicure. These experiences will create meaningful memories that will last longer than any toy.
Deciding to switch to kind toys does not mean that you must toss all the plastic toys out. Just make a pact with yourself to make more considered toy purchases from here on out.