Playing in the Green
Over recent decades, the cost of many of toys has come down, while the range and availability has increased vastly. Millions of toys are made each year from durable but environmentally damaging plastics that are clogging up landfills and helping contribute to waste management problems. As we are becoming more conscious of the damage we are causing to our planet via waste, the market for eco-friendly, recycled and recyclable products is growing, with this trend now spreading to toys.
Setting the Green Toy Trend
Some of the world’s largest toy manufacturers including Hasbro, Lego and Mattel, have started to review their manufacturing processes to improve sustainability. Hasbro is working to reduce the amount of packaging material used and eliminate PVC (polyvinyl chloride which will retain its form for decades and is not biodegradable). Lego is also working towards eliminating PVC and Mattel is introducing greener packaging options.
Our concern for the environment creates a new trend for recycled toys. While the big manufacturers are starting to do their bit to improve their environmental footprint, there is a new, even more exciting development taking place in toy manufacturing.
A New Breed of Toy
The creation of toys made from recycled and upcycled materials is a relatively new phenomenon. These toys are not only reducing the amount of new landfill, but using old materials that would have been destined to sit in landfill for decades to come.
Here at Red Rocket, we have been supporting environmentally friendly toys both in-store and online. We stock many products from the sustainable toy company, Green Toys, such as tugboats, fire engines and shape sorters.
Like many other eco-friendly toy companies, Green Toys collect existing consumer waste such as plastic milk containers and turns the waste into biodegradable resins.
“By using post-consumer recycled plastic,” says Green Toys co-founder Robert von Goeben, “we close the loop and demonstrate to kids the real world benefits of recycling.”
Aside from using recycled products to manufacture the toys, these eco-conscious producers are reducing waste by using only plain paperboard for the packaging, eliminating damaging plastic and metal ties.
The New Trend for Green Toys
Recycled toys can be better for our children’s health. Concerns about damage to children’s health due to certain plastics and lead based paints is also contributing to this trend towards recycled toys. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission states that lead and other elements can cause children harm if they consume dangerous amounts when sucking or chewing on toys.
Another company leading the way in recycled toys is US company Luke’s Toy Factory. They have taken 30% of the plastic out of their products, replacing it with organic materials such as sawdust collected from furniture mills. All of their toys use colours that are moulded into the materials rather than painted on, so there is no danger of paint flaking off into little mouths.
When in Doubt, DIY
Many parents are getting into this trend at home and creating their own recycled and upcycled toys using materials found around the house. If you’re looking for a fun rainy day project, check out Pinterest for some great recycled toy ideas including recycled toilet paper roll building blocks, milk bottle doll houses and recycled CD spinning tops.