Climaneed blog - Environmental Impact of Plastic Toys: Here’s How to Encourage Your Kids to Embrace Sustainable Toys

Environmental Impact of Plastic Toys: Here’s How to Encourage Your Kids to Embrace Sustainable Toys

Sometimes, small actions in our day-to-day lives can have a significant environmental impact. For example, kids’ toys made of plastic are discarded in the oceans, air, and landfills where they harm the environment for years. Anything made of plastic remains in the environment for more than 400 years, causing pollution and climate change. Do you know the toy manufacturing industry is one of the most plastic-intensive industries worldwide? 

According to a report published by The World Counts, 90% of kids’ toys are made of plastic. They contain many harmful chemicals, lead, and cadmium. What makes these worst for children is the fact that kids tend to chew on everything they play with. In fact, anything lying on the floor will go straight into your toddler’s mouth. Now, imagine feeding those harmful toxins to your child. Besides that, when your kids no longer need the toys, you throw them into the trash, and they eventually end up in the landfill. 

The worst part is that nipples, kids’ bottles, and other baby items are made of plastic that contains a high concentration of phthalates — a chemical that is shown to cause hormonal imbalance in people. It makes your kids prone to infertility, low or abnormal sperm count, kidney cancer, testicular damage, birth defects, and other serious diseases. The good news is that the alternatives to plastic are available on the market, and they act as a sustainable and better alternative to these traditional toys. With the right toy, you will never have to worry about your kids’ health or the environmental impact of the material. If you are not sure where and how to start, this post is for you. Let’s see how you can replace plastic with eco-friendly ones. 

Lego toy

Research, Research, and Research

In today’s hectic life, nobody has time to select a toy store and check the labels on the toys to know the materials they contain. In fact, most people buy toys in rush. It’s either that your kids won’t stop crying until they get the toy they want or you are buying a cute toy for your child’s best friend’s birthday. Either way, you will buy the toy in a hurry. As mentioned above, toys do not only contain plastic but they are made of materials that can cause various health problems in your kids. Before you visit the toy store, take some time to research the toy recall notices posted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 

Check out this list every time you go toy shopping. You should also remove the toys that are considered unsafe by these consumer safety organizations from your kid’s toy collection. Alternatively, you can research a website that shows you the list of the toys that are safe for children and make your next toy purchase accordingly. This information is available online. You can take a print of this list to remember the items you have to avoid when going shopping for kids’ toys.

Buy Toys that Last

Since a large percentage of toys are made of plastic, it can be very difficult to find toys that contain zero plastic and chemicals. Your best bet is to get your kids toys that can last long. Kids’ toys are made of resources taken from our planet. The longer a toy lasts, the more you will save on finding its replacement. 

The best part is that it will reduce your carbon footprint, as you won’t have to dispose of the torn or damaged toys frequently. The next time you buy a toy for your kid’s friend or for your toddler, check if it is designed to last. Avoid cheap products that may last a couple of months and end up in the trash. It’s better to pay a few extra bucks on long-lasting and high-quality toys than buy cheap ones that will need to be replaced every few weeks. 

Art supplies

Buy Eco-friendly toy Supplies

The glued paper, glitter, paint brushes, colors, and other art supplies can make an environmental impact. If your kid loves art and painting, buy them eco-friendly art supplies that cause no harm to the environment and are considerably cheaper than those heavy-duty colors full of chemicals. 

These products come wrapped in plastic packaging, and they contain a high concentration of plastic themselves. Crayons, for example, contain petroleum. Paint brushes, marker pens, acrylic paints, and pencil cases are other craft supplies made of plastic. Only a few of these items are recyclable, while the rest of the products end up in landfills. The worst of these products is the glitter that breaks down into microplastics, which can kill birds and harm marine life. 

One thing you can do here is to invest in biodegradable art or craft supplies that do not contain plastic or harmful chemicals. Recycled paper or a card is a good place to start. Where possible, try to buy from companies that offer art & craft supplies in minimal packaging or use sustainable wrappers for packaging, instead of plastic containers. Buy from stores that offer plastic-free shipping. Ideally, you should look for craft supply companies that offer sustainable and environment-friendly products.

Buy Local

Most countries import toys from China — a leading manufacturer of kids’ toys. While these are priced cheaper and work as the best source of entertainment for your kids, these are not environment-friendly. Chinese manufacturers rarely check the environmental impact of the toys and the manufacturing processes. That’s how they produce a massive range and supply them to different nations. Buying local is the first step to reducing your carbon footprint from toys. It will help you in two ways. One, it connects you with local craftspeople in your region and builds their confidence. Two, it reduces the greenhouse gas emission caused by the vehicles used for the distribution of these toys. Attend crafts fair or visit your local toy market to buy toxin-free, sustainable, and high-quality toys. Do your part for the planet by investing in toys that are safe for your kids and the environment. 

Select the Right Material

Plastic toys contain many toxins that can cause significant damage to the environment over time. As mentioned earlier, you can’t avoid plastic altogether, but the least you can do is find toys that contain grade 1, 2, 4, or 5 plastic. Check the grade on the toy’s label and buy recyclable products. Try to buy toys made of organic materials, such as wood, bamboo fibers, or hemp. These products do not contain any pesticides and are safer for the environment and your toddlers. You don’t always have to buy kids’ toys from the store. At times, the stones in your backyard, small cardboard boxes, and steel spoons can be used a toy. This will minimize your environmental impact while being wonderful playthings for your little ones.

A used toy bear

Buy Secondhand Toys

As parents, you shouldn’t get your kids a new toy every day. Your kids can have a wonderful time playing with their existing toys. Or, if they need more, you can exchange your kids’ play items with your neighbors or friends who are also looking for new toys for their kids. It’s a perfect way to save money on toys while providing your kids with new items. If that doesn’t work for you, how about you buy second-hand toys from eBay? You can find stores and libraries with an extensive collection of toys, allowing you to try a set for a small fee. You can get these for a few days and select the ones that your kids love to play with.

Try DIY Kid’s Toys

You don’t always have to buy from local stores or online. Considering the environmental impact of plastic toys, more and more parents are shifting to DIY toy-making processes to provide their kids with fresh toys. Nothing could be safer, cheaper, and more eco-friendly than the toys you make at home. Take a look around to find items that are of no use. 

For instance, if you were about to throw cardboard boxes, why not re-use them for making kid’s toys. You could make trains and other small playthings from cardboard. Kids also love to play with jewelry, makeup products, kitchen utensils, and daily-use items. You could lend these accessories to your little ones so they can have a good time, while you can have peace of mind knowing that they are playing with safe toys.

Do Not Use Batteries

Batteries make a great pastime toy for kids, but they can be dangerous for your toddlers. In addition to leaving a large number of toxins in the environment, batteries pose health risks. Instead of buying battery-powered toys for your kids, give them small tools that they can use with their hands. These toys will keep your kids mentally and physically active.

Remove all the plastic-based toys from your kids’ toy collection and replace them with these safer and environment-friendly alternatives.

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