Sustainable Toys for Sustainable Living: Let’s Play the Eco-Friendly Way!

Girl playing with dolls in front of dollhouse

We all want to make choices that are not only fun for our little ones but gentle on the planet. But how do you avoid a house full of cheap plastic toys destined for a landfill when these products practically dominate the toy aisles? To help you make more earth-friendly choices for your household, we’re diving into all things sustainable toys: what they are, why they’re good for your kids, and how to spot them when you’re shopping!

Understanding Sustainable Toys

So what exactly makes a toy sustainable? There are a few things to look for: First and foremost, will the toy last? High-quality, durable toys can last for many stages of your child’s life and be re-used by younger siblings, reducing the number of toys you buy. (More on this below!)

Secondly, what is the toy made of? Sustainable toys are crafted from responsibly sourced materials, often utilizing renewable resources and recycled or recyclable materials.

Educational and Developmental Aspects of Sustainable Toys

It's never too early to start teaching our children about the importance of taking care of our planet. Sustainable toys provide a fantastic platform to introduce environmental concepts and nurture a love for nature. As they play, we can engage them in conversations about conservation and the importance of protecting our environment. Sustainable outdoor toys or toys that emphasize a love of nature like the Lil’ Green World Collection make these conversations even easier!

Sustainable toys are often developmentally-friendly toys as well. Why? Toys that are meant to last and grow with your child are usually geared toward child-led play, the kind that supports kids’ creativity and cognitive development. This is a far cry from gimmicky toys that simply entertain rather than engage children in meaningful play.

Longevity and Durability

We've all seen those flimsy, break-apart toys that barely survive a single play session. Sustainable toys are meant to be just the opposite! Sustainable toys are made from top-notch materials, and designed to endure even the most rambunctious play sessions. Also, consider how long your child will remain interested in the toy. If it’s made from eco-friendly materials but will only be played with a few times before it gets thrown away, it’s still wasteful. Open-ended toys that can grow with kids are the way to go – they don’t need to be replaced as often and are less likely to end up in a landfill.

And that means we save money in the long run and give the planet a high-five at the same time!

Best Practices for Choosing Sustainable Toys:

So how do you find said magical, eco-friendly, long-lasting toys? Keep these principles in mind as you shop and research brands, and you’ll end up with high-quality toys that are easy on the planet:

  1. Go for toys made from renewable or recycled materials: Look out for toys crafted from natural rubber, cotton, and responsibly sourced wood, like bamboo or FSC-certified wood. They’re extremely durable and help protect our planet’s beautiful forests. Win-win, right?

  2. Check for non-toxic and eco-friendly materials: Safety first! Opt for toys that use low-VOC, non-toxic paints and finishes, because, let’s be honest, our little explorers will definitely lick them at some point. You’ll be looking out for the health of the planet too as VOCs can be a major contributor of greenhouse gasses.

  3. Choose quality over quantity: Want to minimize clutter, spark your child’s imagination, and stay eco-friendly by consuming less? Open-ended toys made from high-quality materials are the answer… because buying less is always the most eco-friendly choice.

    Toys like building blocks, art supplies, and pretend play props are the superheroes of imaginative play. They offer endless possibilities for play because they’re powered by our kids’ imaginations – not by gimmicky effects– so your kids can turn just a few toys into endless fun. And when you choose open-ended toys made from durable materials, you won’t need constant toy replacements. That’s a win for eco-friendly entertainment!

  4. Support brands committed to sustainability: Support the brands that are doing their part for the planet. Look out for companies that are committed to quality and are transparent about their materials.

Eco-Friendly Toy Disposal

We can’t talk about sustainable toys without talking about what happens when our little ones outgrow them. Let's explore a few methods that give our kids’ beloved toys a second chance at life!

  1. Toy Swaps: Try organizing a toy swap event with other parents in your community! It's like a fun playdate with a sustainable twist. Everyone brings toys their children no longer play with and swaps them for something “new” and exciting. It's a win-win: your child gets a new toy to enjoy, and you reduce waste by giving toys a fresh home.

  2. Donating: When your child has outgrown a toy, consider donating it to a local charity, shelter, or thrift store. Many organizations gladly accept gently used toys and distribute them to families in need. Not only does this reduce waste, but it also brings joy to other children who may not have access to new toys.

  3. Recycling: When it's time to bid farewell to a toy, check if it can be recycled. Some plastics, cardboard, and other recyclable materials can be sorted and sent off to recycling centers. Remember to check your local recycling guidelines – it’s a simple step that makes a big difference!

  4. Passing Down: Toys that are truly special (and especially durable) can be saved and passed down as heirlooms to younger family members. (One caveat here: Saving special toys now for future generations is awesome, but be extremely careful about giving heirlooms and antique toys to your children. Many don’t meet modern safety standards and may have high levels of lead, cadmium, phthalates, flame retardants, and other hazardous substances).

The Takeaways

We can make choices that prioritize our planet while creating magical memories for our little ones. When we prioritize high-quality, long-lasting toys that can grow with our child, we’ll consume less and leave a smaller carbon footprint in the process.

At KidKraft, we create toys that are durable enough to last through the toughest toddler treatment and open-ended enough to grow with them through the school years. From our safe, non-toxic paints and finishes to our sturdy wood constructions, KidKraft toys minimize the plastic, maximize the fun, and will stick around for years to come!