Develop Your Own Green Toy Criteria
What’s green and safe to one is not so green or safe to another. For example, some green parents would never buy the Legos shown above due to plastics and non-green Lego company practices. However, some green parents do like Legos due to their reuse value. These are issues to think about. You really need to develop your own eco-toy criteria, which can help you make safe green choices all season long. For example, if you buy a stuffed animal do you want it to be made with 100% organic cotton or is recycled conventional cotton good enough? FTC certified wood may be optimal, but then again, any hard wood may be better than toxic plywood. Is lead-free important to you? How about non-toxic paints, recycled packaging and green company ethics? Will you purchase toys made only in the USA or are you okay with ethical, but out of country companies? It’s best to decide up front how much all these issues matter to you. Make a short list then stick to it as you shop, so you can feel good about your purchases.
Avoid Toxic Toys
If you’re not sure how to start searching for less toxic toys, then visit HealthyStuff.org. They offer test results for over 8,300 products, many of them toys. The test data reflects over 20,000 individual samples of different product components and chemical compositions, and HealthyStuff.org applies a toy safety rating to each toy depending on their findings. This is a great way to find out if that block set your child wants contains cadmium, chlorine, lead, arsenic, bromine or mercury and, if so, can help you choose safer toys. You also may want to check out the annual “10 Worst Toys” List by W.A.T.C.H.
Local and handmade toys are a great green choice during the holiday season. When you buy local you not only support local families and local economy but you skip shipping emissions too. Other perks of locally owned toy stores include a wider, more unique variety of toys. Plus, usually greener toys, such as organic, recycled, wooden, electronic-free and other healthy toys reign supreme at local shops. You get to see toys before you buy and you can talk directly to passionate toy store staff. Lastly, returns to local shops are much easier (and also produce fewer emissions) than returning toys to an online shop. If you do buy online, try to visit smaller, personalized green shops that offset shipping emissions.
Buy Fair Trade Toys
Giant toy manufacturers and retailers spend a lot of money trying to get you to buy their toys, yet, many of the large toy companies also pay workers in other countries much less than a living wage, in horrid working conditions, to create said toys. In many cases children from other countries are being forced to make the toys your child may play with – not a recipe for a very jolly holiday. The Toys of Misery via the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights points out some of the problems of non-Fair-Trade companies. If you want to buy sweatshop-free toys, look to the National Green Pages to locate ethical companies. You can also visit Fair Trade Finder or download the Fair Trade Finder app.
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