Eco-friendly Toys for a Greener Holiday Season

by Guest Writer

With the holiday season quickly upon us, I’m trying to find gifts for my children nieces and nephews that will not have a negative impact on the environment. It’s so easy to get caught up in the retail rush that accompanies this time of year, but this year I want to be more mindful of the environment, as well as my local community.

Inspiration comes in many forms, and mine comes from an email chain letter I received from my mother a week ago. The email suggests “It’s time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box?”  Then, the (unknown) author goes on to list a number of ideas from gym memberships to restaurant gift certificates. This got me thinking. There are a number of places for children in the area of Long Island where I live that my kids love to go, and they would love to get gift certificates to those places. Plus, I won’t have to make room in my already overcrowded playroom for even more toys. From indoor kid cities like Once Upon a Treetop to locally owned bounce places like BounceU, there are certainly plenty of places where you could buy gift certificates. There are also a number of local theatre companies that do children’s theatre—you could buy someone tickets to see a live performance or a gift certificate to pick the performance that suits them.  Gift certificates to these types of places will definitely be on my children’s Christmas lists. We should all make it a priority to find these types of places in our local communities—besides cutting back on waste, you’ll also be stimulating your local economy.

As a mom, I am well aware that kids love to unwrap toys on Christmas morning. I think it’s important to be responsible when we choose which toys we buy. With all of the toy recalls in recent years, one of the best steps we, as parents can take is to choose eco-friendly toys. They should be safer for children and obviously better for the environment. Following are some toys and toy manufacturers that I think are worth taking a look at when you do your holiday shopping.

Green Toys– All of the toys made by this company are made from 100% recycled plastic derived from milk jugs.  Their toys are really cute and range from tool sets to play food. These brightly-colored toys will definitely pique your little one’s interest.

Easy Playhouse– These playhouses are made of cardboard and are basically a blank slate. Kids can decorate their playhouse however they would like. Since they’re made of cardboard, when kids have outgrown these playhouses they can be recycled. As an alternative, if you happen to purchase a large appliance (like a refrigerator or stove) that comes in a large box, you could make your own playhouse that your children could still decorate.

Maple Landmark– Located in Vermont, the wooden toys manufactured by Maple Landmark are made with local materials. This Green Toy Company Award Winning company makes a variety of classic toys from wooden trains to blocks and puzzles.

Plan Toys– This “green” company uses environmentally friendly products including chemical-free Rubberwood, recycled and recyclable materials, and water-based, non-toxic colors to produce their toys. From musical instruments and pretend play items for preschoolers to more traditional infant toys, Plan Toys offers a wide variety of toys to meet your child’s wants and needs.

This holiday season, when you’re shopping for gifts remember that you don’t have to harm the environment while putting a smile on your little one’s face. With these green gift ideas, the smile you put on their faces today will be one that lasts a lifetime. They’ll thank you today and they’ll thank you years from now for leaving the environment the way you found it.

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