Tips for Choosing Environmentally Friendly Toys

With this guide to environmentally friendly toys, you can make toys and align your purchases with your goals for eco-friendly living.

| June 2016

  • Even a smelly old sock can become a little friend with some basic sewing and imagination.
    Photo by Kate Blincoe
  • Seek out toys made from wood.
    Photo by Kate Blincoe
  • Use "PET Symbols" or "Resin Identification Codes" to understand what chemicals your plastic products contain.
    Photo by Fotolia/markobe
  • Nature needs children and children need nature. “The No-Nonsense Guide for Green Parenting” by Kate Blincoe will help your family live a greener lifestyle and your children will learn to enjoy, appreciate and care for the world around them.
    Cover courtesy Green Books

In The No-Nonsense Guide to Green Parenting (Green Books, 2016) author Kate Blincoe explains that it’s not about being perfect — it’s about giving it a try, feeling the benefits for your family, and having fun while you do it. This guide provides essential advice on food and eating, eco-buying, learning and playing, family-friendly foraging, growing plants and food with your family, green days out, activities and parties, green parenting in the city, and balancing your green ideals in a busy life. Kate’s pragmatic approach will inspire you to balance green living with the realities of raising children. In this excerpt you will learn several strategies for keeping your children's play green.

Chances are you have a toy mountain in your home. It may be Everest-sized or a more modest Kilimanjaro. It may be confined to one room (I wish) or spread willy-nilly around your home.  Either way, it matters to the environment exactly how your toy mountain is created and managed.

What’s it made from?

For environmentally friendly toys, we all know that wood is the way forward. It is the best choice for the environment because plastic contains oil-based petrochemicals and won’t biodegrade in landfill. There is often a wooden alternative to plastic dominoes, building blocks, digger tractors, tools. Tactile, more durable and undeniably more attractive, wood will pass the ‘hand me on’ test long after plastic toys have broken. Wooden toys can be more expensive, but because they last so well can often be found secondhand.

Also look out for toys made from other renewable substances, such as natural rubber, organic cotton, wool or plant-based bioplastics. Avoiding plastic altogether is nearly impossible, so choose durable, quality plastic that will last for years – for example, Lego is practically indestructible. Make sure you opt for one of the safer kinds of plastic, with fewer harmful chemicals. These will be labeled with a pet symbol of 2, 4, or 5. For the best safety standards, check it is free from Bisphenol A (BPA) – an industrial chemical. Some toys are made from recycled plastic, such as old milk cartons.

Where is it made?

All toys sold across Europe must conform to strict safety regulations, but there have been instances of imported toys being recalled. Look for manufacturers based locally to reduce the air miles on your products and ensure high ethical standards. If buying from abroad, check that it is a Fairtrade item.

Be aware that imported toys may contain lead. It is used in paint and plastic to enhance flexibility. Even low levels of lead in children’s blood have been shown to affect IQ, the ability to pay attention and academic achievement.



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