Eco friendly toys keep playtime fun without the hefty toll of conventional manufacturing that largely favors plastics and other not-so-great materials. So, if you have some little ones in your life or maybe some big kids who still love their toys, there are some great eco-friendly toymakers to consider on your hunt for the best toys. Find everything from eco-friendly teethers and swings, to dollhouses, scooters, bikes, and educational toys.
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Choosing eco friendly toys can be tricky- Here's what to look for:
In general, choosing more eco-friendly products is not as difficult as it might seem. You just need to know what to look out for and a little practice.
From ethical maternity clothes to non-toxic mattresses, we always start with the materials used. We then consider the sourcing practices of the brands in question, as well as their corporate responsibility practices.
We aren’t looking for perfection but this criterion helps us get a full picture of what brands are offering so we can make informed decisions on what brands to vote for with our dollars. Here’s what that will look like for toys.
1. What types of materials and fabrics does the brand use?
When considering materials, we are looking into what a product is made of. Wherever possible, we want to avoid plastic toys, particularly where they are made of virgin plastics. Virgin plastics are newly made plastics; as opposed to recycled plastics.
Instead look for toys made of sustainably sourced natural materials like wood, cotton, or hemp. Natural, sustainably sourced materials are usually the best option all around. Recycled materials are also okay too, even when they are plastics since they give a second life to materials that would otherwise go to landfills or be incinerated.
2. Are the materials sourced ethically?
Ethical sourcing has to do with how the products are made across the supply chain. From where and how the raw materials are sourced, to where the toys are made, how they are made, and the people who make them, all the way to our purchasing them. We look for sustainable sourcing practices and ethical production standards.
Sustainable sourcing practices mean products made from organically grown cotton, recycled content, FSC certified wood, or even regenerative agricultural practices. It also means water recycling programs and other waste recycling initiatives, low waste production methods, and circular production methods.
Ethical production standards mean fair wages, safe working conditions, and investments back to their employees and the communities where brands operate.
Relevant certifications include the Fair Trade certification and the B-Corp certification.
3. What is the brand's corporate responsibility?
This speaks to what more brands are doing for the planet and for their community. We look for more sustainable packaging, environmental initiatives, charitable works, and the like.
Why consider Sustainable toys for your kids?
Toys are a lot less fun when we look at their environmental impact. According to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), toy goods are among the most plastic-intensive products. That’s not so great since plastics are made of fossil fuels and are having a severe impact on the planet.
Since plastics are neither biodegradable nor compostable, they wind up in our ecosystems, notably in our waterways and oceans. In 2014, the ratio of plastic to fish was estimated at around 1:5 (or 1 plastic bottle to every 5 fish). This comes with important environmental and economic costs to people around the world. So they not only pose health risks to children but they also wind up contributing to our global plastic waste problem.
Buying sustainable toys made from better materials stands to make a huge difference.
Here are our favorite eco friendly toys
1. Finn + Anna
At the intersection of the “stylish and sustainable, classic and contemporary, whimsical and sophisticated”, Finn + Anna offers organic baby clothing, as well as toys and accessories. Committed to safer and more eco-friendly products, Finn + Anna ensures that all of their products are made of only the best materials including eco-friendly dyes, 100% organic cotton, and all-natural wood.
Perfect for eco-friendly baby toys, you will find sustainable wooden toys made from natural materials like untreated Indian hardwood, finished with vegetable seed wax, and filled with beans. Their hand-knit toys are made with G.O.T.S certified organic cotton and wool by a women’s collective in Peru. Where plastics are present, they are phthalate-free. They also offer beautiful handmade macrame swings made from 100% organic cotton and wood.
Zeki Learning is a non-profit, Fair Trade certified educational toy brand. Their ethically-made learning resources are rooted in Montessori principles and designed to encourage fine motor skills, sensory skills, language learning, and emotional intelligence.
To make their eco-friendly children’s toys, Zeki employs historically disadvantaged artisan women from the West Bank. Faced with low incomes, gender inequality, and a lack of economic opportunities, this empowers them by offering work, training, and fair wages.
While some of their products include synthetic materials like polyester, they are washable and compliant with Consumer Product Safety Commission standards. They can also be repaired to extend their lifecycle or be donated for other children to play with.
Lovevery’s ethical toys are designed with the help of experts, academics, researchers, and specialists. Made for children ranging from 0-to 4 years old, their stage-based toys are specifically tailored to their wants and needs.
Materials used include sustainable, organic, and natural materials like 100% FSC-certified sustainably sourced wood, recycled paper, and recycled packaging. Lovevery is also a certified B-Corp and doing lots to reduce its carbon footprint while offering more sustainable products for children and for the home.
Based in Toronto, Ontario, Babyjoy.ca is a family-owned online retailer committed to offering organic, natural, eco-friendly, or non-toxic products for babies and toddlers. Their eco-friendly stuffed animals are just too cute for words! They make sure that no harmful chemicals, toxins, herbicides, or pesticides are used in the making of any of the products they carry.
They also look for products made from certified organic ingredients including organic toys. Their selection features wooden toys, dolls, educational toys, and much more. They even offer zero-waste baby gift baskets perfect for the zero-waste baby or mama in your life.
Founded by parents of six, Melissa & Doug set out to "provide a launch pad to ignite imagination and a sense of wonder in all children so they can discover themselves, their passions, and their purpose." We can definitely tell by their selection. In terms of sustainability, they strive to use wood where possible. In fact, they are the #1 brand for wooden toys for preschools. These are eco toys you will want to play with!
In partnership with One Tree Planted, the brand works to replace the trees they do use in their products and is working on increasing their use of FSC-certified materials. They also focus on creating mindfully crafted, high-quality toys that withstand the test of time.
Modern Nursery is a curated marketplace with eco-friendly, non-toxic, and organic products for mindful parents and their little ones. You can shop according to certifications such as 'Organic', 'Eco-Friendly', 'Sustainably Made', and 'FSC Certified'. Use the filters to shop by age too.
You can also shop based on what you are looking for including educational toys, wooden toys, baby toys, ride-on toys, play tents, outdoor toys, and more. Generally, many of their environmentally friendly toys are made of natural materials such as cotton, wood, and eco-friendly dyes but make sure to check out the product description for more details.
EarthHero is a zero-waste online store where responsible buying is second nature. With a commitment to conscious buying, they ensure that the products on offer “are sourced, manufactured, and shipped in a way that protects our planet’s future”. They carry all sorts of products like organic baby clothes, eco-friendly diapers, natural laundry detergent, and much more.
Shop their selection according to sustainability features and their kid's toys based on age range as well. You will find everything from Arts and Crafts and Teething toys to Bikes and Tricycles. EarthHero is also a certified B Corporation, 1% For The Planet member and Climate Neutral certified.
Micro Kickboard prides itself on offering the best scooters, kickboards, and other personal transport options for both children and adults. Their Eco-Collection of scooters makes a great option for sustainable toys. Made of recycled ocean plastic, Micro Kickboard utilizes fishing nets, ropes, and trawls as part of their raw materials. And if anything breaks the entire scooter will not be rendered useless. Any part of their ECO scooters can be replaced for longer shelf life. Micro also donates a portion of their annual sales as a 1% For The Planet member.
Green Kid Crafts offers eco-friendly projects designed by expert educators. Designed to entertain and nurture creativity, the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) products they offer teach children about the planet around them.
To give back the brand has partnered with One Tree Planted which helps them plant one tree with every order placed. They also offset 100% of the carbon emissions associated with their operations with the help of the Carbon Fund.
10. Tender Leaf Toys
Tender Leaf Toys specializes in creating beautiful wooden toys that make a great option for sustainable children’s toys. All of their toys are designed with the development of children’s skills in mind.
To make their mindfully designed sustainable kids toys, Tender Leaf uses Rubber Wood which is a byproduct of the rubber industry. It is sourced from Indonesia and they ensure that they only use Indonesian legal rubberwood for the making of their products.
All of the manufacturing (cutting, painting, drying) is done in one place at their factory. And they also ensure very high standards for their 1600 workers, who are trained into highly skilled craftsmen. Find everything from animals and building blocks, to dollhouses and children’s furniture.
11. Build Your Own
Based in the U.K. Build Your Own offers STEM-inspired kits made from cardboard. No glue is necessary either. Kits include Pirate Ships, Binoculars, Plane Launchers, Telescopes, and more.
They are designed for children 8 and up, and their packaging is entirely recyclable. Sure to be hours of fun, Build Your Own even offers what they call Mini-Builds featuring a series of animals including a White Rhino, a Snowy Owl, a Hawksbill Turtle, and many more.
Other ways to find toys: Toy Libraries
Another option worth considering is to rent toys from toy libraries. This not only lightens the environmental toll of entertaining the little ones but also makes it easier to find educational toys suited to their developmental needs. Try finding one near you using your favorite search engine. I found one in Canada called The Play Société and this one in the US called Toy Library. Using a toy library helps save money, avoid clutter, and reduce our environmental footprint. A Win-Win-Win in our book.
A Final word on eco toys
As always shopping secondhand remains the most sustainable option wherever possible and you will find lots of great secondhand toy stores online. With that, I hope this list has made it easier to get the little ones some great non-toxic, eco-friendly toys, that are equally as fun as their conventional counterparts.
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