Toys are traditionally pretty bad for the environment, but a few eco-friendly manufacturers are looking to change that reputation.
Toys are quite possibly one of the most unecologically friendly creations on earth. Toys are routinely made from plastics that are questionable at best and downright toxic at worst. They are regularly manufactured in some far-flung corner of the world and must be transported thousands of miles to reach the living rooms, store shelves and holiday festivities near you and me. They are loved initially, for a short period of time, and then usually discarded without a second thought. And, they don’t really serve any critical purpose in our lives as humans. Well, at least not to us folks who don’t have children. So, why do such harmful and unnecessary objects exist? The answer is because they’re fun. And, thanks to the Greenest Toy Companies of 2009, the unhealthy, harmful ones hopefully will be weeded out sooner rather than later.
Toys will continue to be produced because humans have, and most likely always will, get so much joy out of the simplest of baubles, trinkets and knickknacks. However, the eye-raising issue of children’s health and safety, as well as the safety of our planet, has garnered the following toy makers honor for their forward-thinking way of creating some of humanity’s favorite things.
This toy company uses certified organic woods on many of its toys. The drying process uses no chemicals in the kiln, the paints are water based and glues are void of formaldehyde. In fact, the company’s facilities even use solar power and the machinery produces each fun creation using only biofuel.
North Star Toys
North Star Toys is similar to Plan Toys in a couple of ways: It uses sustainable woods and the company’s facility is fully dependent on renewable energy. How North Star Toys differs is the fact that the wooden toys are crafted by using scrap pieces from local cabinetmakers and that a food-grade mineral oil is used as the finish on each toy. The toys are manufactured in New Mexico, not some faraway foreign country.
Like Plan Toys and North Star Toys, Haba also runs a green engine on renewable energy like photovoltaics (solar panels) and burns natural materials (such as wood chips) for heat rather than relying on the energy grid.
Probably the best example of turning one person’s trash into something wonderful, Green Toys manufactures plastic toys using post-consumer milk jugs. That’s right, toys from milk cartons. But the company doesn’t just put its resourceful skills to the test in this arena. Green Toys also tests its products for traceable amounts of phthalates and BPA — both nasty chemicals with harmful effects on human beings. Oh, and don’t worry about any harmful lead in the paint, because there is none. And, while we’re at it, go ahead and forget about the wasteful packaging that is plastered on every shelf in toy stores because Green Toys are stored in simplistic recycled corrugated cardboard boxes without plastic, cellophane or twisty ties.
Many a parent would argue that a child’s favorite toy is virtually invaluable in the right circumstances. So, the next time you wonder, “Why do toys exist?” remember that they’re fun, entertaining and, with any luck, they’ll all be healthy and sustainable to boot!