Green toys: 10 tips
Eco-friendly toys: How often have you heard about a recall of a popular toy? Often, these disturbing reports come during or after the holiday season and worry consumers, especially parents. In many cases, toys are recalled because they contain dangerous synthetic materials. They can seriously harm a child's health. Puzzles may contain formaldehyde, a carcinogen. Plastic toys contain chemical softeners that can cause hormonal problems. Similarly, teddy bears contain flame retardants and can also hinder a child's natural development.
Toxins abound in products marketed to adults. The problem is not as serious and immediate a threat. Adults have mature bodies and internal systems, as well as greater body weight. They often need prolonged exposure to develop symptoms. Children, on the other hand, have small bodies and their fragile bodies have not yet developed resistance to harmful substances. Therefore, government agencies and private organisations give priority to the safety assessment of toys.
Environmentally friendly plastic toys
Another problem with toys affects everyone in the world. Common materials, such as PVC, sit in landfills and dumps for decades. During the degradation process, they emit harmful fumes and other toxins that contaminate. A number of health organisations and activist groups such as Greenpeace have campaigned against the use of PVC. They aim to reduce the number of people around the world who suffer from the effects of dioxin. However, tests suggest that almost all the hazardous materials used can be replaced by safe and environmentally friendly materials. So use the following tips to choose safe toys for your children.
1. Do your research on eco-friendly toys
Most of us feel continually pressed for time. You may feel pressured to make quick visits to the shop to prepare for the holidays.
Go online and look for toy recall notices. These are published by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, recalls.gov and the New York Department of Health. If you see toys on the list that are in the toy box right now, take them out immediately. Otherwise, print out the list and avoid the affected items when you go to the toy shop.
Healthytoys.org, offers the opposite of a reminder list by telling buyers which toys are safe. You can access this website to get the latest information on the safety of a toy.
2. Read the labels
Paying attention to labels can give you a headache, especially if you are shopping with a child. After all, many of these labels contain international symbols designed to communicate significant information. Spend some time familiarising yourself with the meaning of the symbols on product labels.
When shopping, be sure to avoid toys that contain phthalates, lead and bisphenol A (BPA). This synthetic compound tops the list of toxic pollutants in toys. The Department of Trade and Industry has established a guideline on toxins and toys. Anything containing more than 90 ppm should be avoided at all costs. If you want to buy a toy without a label, search online by description or picture. Also look for consumer reports of problems with the toy.
3. Buy local
Currently, more than three quarters of the toys sold in the US are made in other countries. Toy suppliers in Europe and the US are often safer than countries with cheap labour and low standards. Yet the majority of toys on the market come from China, a country where environmental issues rarely affect manufacturers.
Eco-friendly toys: recycled teddy bears
Buying from local vendors can help save the planet by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Connect with local artisans who share your values and have children of their own. Visit local shops and spend your money locally to get high quality eco-friendly toys.
4. Choose the right material
You can easily see which materials are dominant in a toy. Avoid plastic toys as much as possible, as they contain many toxins. So choose toys made from safer plastics.
Whenever possible, choose environmentally friendly toys made from natural materials such as wood or organic textiles. They rarely contain harmful pesticides and should be relatively safe for your children. When buying printed toys, make sure they are printed on recycled and bio-degradable materials.
Some of the best toys in the world can be found in your garden. Smooth garden stones, sticks and cardboard boxes can be wonderful toys that minimise the environmental impact of childhood.
5. Use second-hand ecological toys
Giving new life to old toys can help the environment and save money. You can look for toys in second-hand shops and on websites such as Freecycle or eBay. Better still, you can get together with your friends and swap toys to give to your children.
Be careful and check if any of these toys have been recalled. Also be sure to check with your child before exchanging their favourite toy.
Some local libraries have toys in their collection that people can borrow for a small fee. This is a good opportunity to let your children try out new toys before spending money.
6. Buy quality products
Difficult economic times can lead parents to take shortcuts. Beware of cheap toys. Manufacturers are taking shortcuts to cut production costs and in doing so are providing unsafe products for our children. Rather than feeling pressured by the holidays and your peers, buy wisely.
The extra money needed to buy high quality toys can be a wise investment. Especially if your children grow up to be healthy and strong young adults. High quality toys can also last more than a childhood. This makes them a very good value in the long run.
Reputable brands are more likely to produce environmentally friendly goods.
7. Do it yourself
Do you really have to buy all your children's toys? Why not try it out for yourself? make some toys yourself? Take a good look at the things you throw away and you might find opportunities to keep your children entertained for days or weeks on end.
Masks made from cereal boxes, bottle rockets, bean stirrers and cardboard trains are just some of the things you can make before you take out the rubbish. Be creative and you can, in turn, stimulate the creativity of the children around you.
8. Play it safe
Encouraging safe play can also help the children around you to have fun in an environmentally friendly way. If you're playing dress-up, instead of face paint, use cornstarch-based products that have been proven safe. Avoid cheap jewellery with your little princesses: more than half of the jewellery tested by HealthyStuff.org was unsafe.
When crafting, be careful with plastic fuse beads, which can release toxins. Do not heat modelling clay as the polymers in it give off harmful fumes. Think twice before letting your child play with some common household items. Mobile phones and TV remotes are not subject to the same safety standards as toys and can cause injury. Keys can contain lead and pose significant health risks.
9. Avoid batteries
Batteries make fascinating and fun toys possible, but at a huge cost to the environment. Not only does battery production leave behind tons of toxic waste, but batteries pose a serious threat to young children who can easily choke on them.
Rather than opting for battery-operated toys, consider options that children can operate with their hands and imagination. By keeping children physically and mentally active, you are giving them a solid foundation for a healthy and happy life.
10. Buy fewer toys
Finally, does your child really need all those toys? Try to encourage the children around you to enjoy life without depending on material possessions. Complement your toy choices with smart choices for high quality, safe toys that can last long enough to serve all your children.
Consider fun activities such as a picnic or a trip to the movies. Outdoor playgrounds, hiking trails, museums and other activities can also contribute to a child's full development without breaking the bank or ruining the environment.