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Buying non-green toys for your child

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Another EcoHuddle post here got me thinking about toys for our kids. Obviously we want safe non-toxic toys, but as the post I'm referencing points out, some fave toys like Barbie (which I loved as a kid) are not so eco-friendly.

My own son is pretty green. He'll adjust his wants often to stay green - i.e. choose a lunchbox he doesn't love the design of if it's green vs. a toxic lunchbox he does like the design on or give up treats that are not organic or over-packaged. But like all kids there are some things he adores that just aren't very eco-friendly, like his favorite toy Lego Sets.

He has a lot of green toys, but also I will buy him the Legos even though their non-green quality bothers me. I figure that for an eight-year old he's pretty eco-savvy so to ban everything would be nuts and maybe not fair to him. Especially since I'm sort of a crazy person about food - we do stay organic in that department, with very few compromises.

When your kids want toys or goods that are non-green how do you handle it? 
post #2 of 13
Green toys are great for kids because they are made from recyclable and renewable materials and are environmentally friendly! Green toys are toys with a nature friendly theme.

edited to remove link - Russ
post #3 of 13
My nephew has all these plastic toys, and he simply refused to play with eco-friendly toys - once you get addicted to super heroes and various cartoon characters, you can't get over it. But once I started bringing wooden toys home, simply to show the beautiful creations, my brother has decided to start making wooden educational toys - so now, that my nephew has seen how popular they are - he enjoys playing with them, and actually helps create them.
post #4 of 13
Hi, My little one just loves the Sophie la Giraffe. An Eco toy and teether that has been around since 1964! Both my kids had this toy and it is a favourite.
The toy is made from natural rubber, has food grade paints and is so light a 2 month old baby can lift it.
Wooden toys with food grade paint are great too. You know if they start chomping on them, they will not become ill. And if sustainably and environmentally produced they are not going to sit in a rubbish tip for a 1000 years like plastic toys do!
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
I love Sophie the Giraffe; especially the bath toy version - so cute. Sadly, my son is a little old now. He just turned nine so he's prob gonna frown if I try to pass it off as fun. 
post #6 of 13
Jennifer - my nephew is the same - he is old enough to know what he likes and has his own mind.
post #7 of 13
Hi Jennifer - Why not contact Lego and suggest they go to a green plastic. They may laugh at you but it is worth a try. 
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
I've emailed the company before but no response. There's actually a petition online to get Lego to go recycled but it's not really building any momentum. Most companies are very lackadaisical when it comes to responding to green consumer questions. For example - folks I've contacted who won't tell me anything...
  • Huggies diapers
  • The USDA - these folks were not useful at all.
  • Lego
  • A ton of conventional cleaning companies.
It's very frustrating.

BUT maybe I'll go another round with Lego, because this is a biggie.
post #9 of 13
You commented on WalMart a day or two back. The big companies are getting smarter about trying to go along - at least to a point. They know the PR game quite well and once they figure out what is in play they can see stone-walling is not a good choice.

Maybe point out to Lego that they could get the jump on others?

Good luck! 
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
I bet if I contacted Walmart about an actual issue that challenges them, I'd get the run around too though. They may be trying to go greener, but they're likely still very defensive about their non-green issues. Companies act just fine in my experience when you don't ask questions, the second you do they get defensive and won't say a word, or send pr folks without the whole story your way. AND just to be clear, I work with plenty of smart PR people too; I just think companies leave some of them with too little information for people asking the questions.

You'd think having all recycled bricks (and being the first to do so) might appeal to them, but I'm thinking they care about the bottom line too much. At their site there's some talk in their eco-pdf about how they can't use recycled paper because no one makes decent recycled paper that "meet requirements for a uniform, truthful and attractive representation of our products in the various brochures and building instructions." However, anyone who has seen recycled paper lately knows there's plenty of decent recycled paper out there. It costs more though obviously, so I get it (Legos already cost a lot in my opinion) but it's a flimsy excuse.

Lego is not the worst though by any means. I do wish they had all recycled bricks, but at least they are recycling the scraps. I believe their eco-pdf states something like only 1% of all their plastic scraps were NOT recycled (and that was back in 1998).

Ok, I go way off when I get talking about companies and legos. Geez. Stopping now. :)
post #11 of 13

Legos: More Than Just a Toy

To make an assumption that, just because a toy is plastic, it is not eco-friendly seems to me to be stretching logic a bit. I have three boys, all of whom enjoy playing with Legos. And, while I do purchase new Lego "guys" on occasion, as the old ones are lost or dismembered, the bulk of our immense Lego collection (in excess of three storage containers) has all been gleaned second hand and all pieces are as good as they day they rolled out of the factory. That said, Legos are in fact more than just toys to a developing mind. Legos teach our children all sorts of eco-relative habits, not the least of which is to build with blocks.

Picture a world of even more scarcity than we experience today, and the necessity to begin constructing homes from straw bales or mud bricks. Now who better equipped to accomplish this task than the multitude of kids who grew up constructing towers, skyscrapers, cars, planes and various monstrosities with re-used Legos. Legos are very expensive and I believe that the Lego corporation is sensitive to this price-consideration and is opting to save the consumer the expense of using recycled paper in their packaging. Lego is also a successful multinational corporation; organizations don't reach a stature of this sort without establishing models to reduce waste and pollution.

We could argue round and round about the case for new paper vs. recycled paper and jobs, forestry, renewable resources, but the issue at hand is child play and the passing down of something as amazing and exploratory as Lego blocks. My grandkids and, hopefully their children will receive the same crate-load of Legos I played with, the tiny hands will snap and construct their own structures with the very same bricks I used to build my first Lego towers. We reuse, we reinvent, and I might say, I learned some of this by playing with Legos. Now if we do this for our kids, passing on ideals through something perceived as a simple toy, then it becomes more than just a toy.

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 

Legos could be a lot more eco-friendly. It's not JUST that they make plastic toys; made with non-renewable oil. The major issue for me is that they make some components with recycled plastic - but most of the time Lego uses new plastic. If you have the means to make recycled plastic goods, why on earth make new?  They can't even give in to small steps such as they don't print their catalogs on recycled paper - a small but influential step they could take, but choose not to.


When considering eco-friendly toys you have to look at what the company is doing as a whole. I agree that Legos are a great toy. My son loves them, but that doesn't make them the best choice so far as eco is concerned.

post #13 of 13

I agree with you Jennifer that toys made out of recycled plastic somehow seem greener than buying second-hand toys made of new plastic. I want to give a shout out to a company that does make all their toys out of recycled plastic. Their company name is actually Green Toys, and they make all their toys out of recycled milk jugs. The toys are beautiful and affordable...And I think they'd meet your standards of what makes a company eco-friendly.

Edited by amyatabes - 8/18/10 at 4:26am
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