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Eco Toys - Why Choose a Better Toy for Your Child?

Green Products for Children Focus on Sustainability and Safety

Copyright 2012 Allira Newlands; All rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without written permission. Posted July 30, 2012.

A wooden cement truck toy; photo courtesy Allira Newlands


Green children’s products are the new black. Whether they are organic foods, modern cloth nappies, or wooden toys, eco products help parents to do the best they can for their child, to ensure the things their child uses will benefit, rather than harm them, and that they’re creating not just wonderful memories but a cleaner future.

For too long though, sourcing eco toys has been an issue for parents. Green washing, dubious forest management, and lax labeling laws meant that a lot of detective work was necessary in order to find a truly eco toy. So, what do you need to know before making your purchase?

What is an Eco Toy?

The philosophy behind eco toys is that they should be both good for the environment and good for the child. The focus is on making toys from materials that can be/ have been recycled.

These include things like wood and certain plastics, or from natural fibers that are certified organic and have been grown in such a way as to reduce their impact on the environment.

Soft toys are usually made from organic cottons or other natural fibers such as wool felt while wooden eco toys are created from recycled or sustainable timbers including plantation pine and FSC certified timbers.

A variety of plastics, including milk bottles, are recycled to form new plastic toys that are more durable and free from harmful chemicals. Plus, this keeps plastic out of the landfill.

The issues to watch out for:

  • Sustainable Farming Practices —

    When plantation timber originates from areas such as South Asia or the Amazon Basin, sustainable farming practices may lack proper regulation. Where possible, seek out American-made products, using local materials — because that’s good for jobs too!

  • Plastic Recycling Regulations —

    If you must choose a plastic toy, be sure you know your plastics! Recycling plants in some regions (including Sub-Continental Asia) lack proper safety protection for workers and may create more harm than good.

  • Toxicity Regulation —

    Toxicity regulation varies from country to country and is especially controversial when it comes to paints used on children’s products.

    China in particular, has received a lot of well-deserved criticism on this issue, so be cautious when purchasing mass produced products from abroad. China has a history of using leaded paint, putting profit before child safety.

  • Geographical Country of Origin —

    Organic cotton can be a wonderful thing, and it can be environmentally detrimental. While organic may be best, cotton is a very water hungry crop. Genetic modifications made to cotton are usually to reduce water consumption.

    While a “wet” country like Bangladesh may suit organic cotton growing, not all countries can support the wests demand for cotton. When buying organic cotton products manufactured abroad, choose products made in countries such as Bangladesh under the watchful eye of human rights activist organizations.

Good for Your Child

A musical eco toy; photo courtesy Allira Newlands Eco toys are good for your child’s body and mind. While playing with eco toys limits their exposure to harmful toxins, it also encourages their imagination.

Cheap plastic toys may only hold your child’s attention for a short time and offer an affiliation with a brand, rather than authentic developmental play.

Educational eco toys help to develop children’s abilities to think, reason, and problem solve as they build, stack, count, and invent.

These are toys that will hold their attention and which are durable enough to withstand countless hours of play. They’ll also create life long memories that aren’t branded!

Good for the World

The eco toy industry also does some serious good for both society and the environment. Sourcing materials for eco toys from organic farms and sustainable timber plantations has been shown to benefit local indigenous communities and the environment through cleaner air and water and helping to reduce global warming.

Companies who manufacture eco toys tend to opt for other sustainable practices, including the use of recycled packaging materials, and the supporting of local manufacturers or artisans in poorer communities. The local economy benefits as does the economies in developing countries.

Choosing eco toys for your child is both an ethical and sensible decision: while your child is benefiting from the creative play encouraged by eco toys, you are contributing to a more sustainable world.

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About the Author:

Allira Newlands is the owner of Noli Toys, one of Australia’s most popular online toys stores for educational wooden and eco toys. The Noli Toys philosophy is that non-toxic, beautifully crafted toys should be affordable for all families.

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