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Green Toys 101: Tips for a Greener Toy Box

ExpertsPost Category - ExpertsExperts

The busy world of parenting can make is virtually impossible to keep up with the latest news about the environment. Climate change, carbon emissions, global warming, deforestation, renewable energy… What a headache!

So how can we – as individual parents – make small decisions that have a positive impact on the environment? We can start by changing what type of toys or games we buy for our children.

The first thing to consider is whether you really do need to buy something new. Like most children, your son or daughter must have many unloved and unused toys and games so rather than letting them collect dust, why not go through them together and decide which ones your child would still like to play with and which ones could be donated. Doing this together will create awareness regarding environmental protection and conservation.

If the time comes to buy something new, there are a few things to consider: what material was it constructed from, is the company who produced it sustainable, will the toy hold up to frequent use, is the toy educational, does it fill several of your criteria?

What makes a toy eco-friendly?
If you want to consider the environment when buying toys and games, look for items that are:
•Made with (at least some) recycled material content
Made with wood that is that comes from sustainably managed forests (ex. FSC certified)
•Made from material in abundant supply, like bamboo and post-latex producing rubber wood
•Certified safe for children
•Certifiably organic
•Presented with minimal or recycled packaging
•Fair Trade certified
•Operated without the need for batteries
•PVC, BPA, lead, Phthalate and petroleum free (including paint and glue used in packaging)
•Good quality – increasing the opportunity to re-use

Buy good quality that will last!
In order to reuse a toy, you have to commit to buying good quality toys and games that can last for generations. Use resources such as the internet to read parent reviews or manufacturers’ product information. Find toys that don’t have just one purpose – open ended toys, with no set answer or outcome – will stimulate your child’s imagination and invite more play. Stick to age-appropriate games that require higher level thinking or the use of strategic skills that will engage young people for much longer than a game that is too easy or one dimensional.

The internet provides a world of information about eco-friendly toys, and there are more and more retailers in Hong Kong that offer a range of toys that fulfill these criteria. When not sure about a certain product, ask the store staff. Sometimes toys are not labeled eco-friendly or sustainable but some basic research about the company, its manufacturing process and its ethics prove it has even higher standards. And think about all this when buying gifts for birthday parties too!!

Sarah Sanesi is a holistic health practitioner, a certified baby planner and a greenproofer. She founded Baby Bloom, which offers a wide range of services for expecting couples and young families, including greenproofing that provides education, support and resources in order to protect families from unsafe exposure to potentially toxic substances in their home, on their body and in their environment.

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