Savvy consumers are checking out their options looking for fair trade toys and earth friendly toys. The push for companies to be more diligent in toy manufacturing safety has prompted efforts in environmentally responsible forms of manufacturing as well.
These products are commonly referred to as “green” items, and the call for green merchandise is rising. Toy manufacturers have stepped up to offer some eco friendly toys ranging from organic baby products to environmentally safe toys for kids of all ages.
Earth Friendly Materials
Materials are an important factor in many so-called eco toys, and the process involving the materials can include how they are grown (organics or no genetically modified products) to how renewable the material is. Some of the environmentally friendly toys are made from plants grown without toxic pesticides while others offer non-bleached fibers.
Focus on a reduced carbon footprint has brought about many items made with renewable, quick-growth materials such as bamboo. While others, such as those by the company Green Toys – are made from recycled materials.
Toys made from green products include the building blocks, games, jewelry, and furniture by HABA toys. Many of their products are made from untreated beech wood and their environmental standards include their suppliers as well as training sessions for their staff. Dwelling offers fair-trade knit octopus toys and handmade naturally dyed wool puppets for fingers or hands. Bambu handles all kinds of kitchen items including bamboo spoons, forks and sporks for little hands. Senger handmade stuffed toys from Germany offer organic outer fibers with natural materials as filler.
Sustainable Toy Business Practices
How items are made is another factor when considering eco friendly toys. Sometimes it’s the “who” behind the “how” that matters most. Buying locally-made items at craft fairs or local markets reduces the carbon footprint of the item since shipping is not required.
Ten Thousand Villages offers fair trade items and wonderful toys like the dragon kites made by Balinese kite makers. By preserving traditional crafts like puppet-making and offering a fair wage for the items, members of the International Fair Trade Association allow otherwise disadvantaged artisans a chance to earn a living and strengthen the community.
Teaching toys are available to help explain the concepts of global warming, recycling and alternative energy. Growing sets get kids started in the kitchen with organic seeds and offers productive play outside when veggies are planted and, later, harvested. Who knows, they might even eat the vegetables if they grow them themselves. Eco craft books promote recycling materials to create new wonders of the imagination.
Another way to go green with toys is to consider alternatives to standard toy giving. Re-gift items to younger children in other families, or set up a toy trade with local families. By renting or recycling toys, the discarded toys are kept out of the landfill and are put into the hands of other children. Purchasing gently used toys is also an option, but be sure to check recall fact pages to be sure they are safe.
One of the biggest forms of waste from toys (besides the discarded toys themselves) are the 5 billion batteries purchased by Americans each year. When thinking green try avoiding items that require batteries. At the very least invest in some rechargeable ones to cut down on waste from used batteries.
A number of sites are available online offering how-to guides for greening up the house from toys to tools and many offer alternative product ideas. So whether “going green” means simply playing outside, supporting local manufacturing and fair trade, or finding teaching tools for toddler-grown organics, the options are out there for the perfect toy.