Most children have very long wish lists for Christmas. There are so many ads on television, so many toys discussed with friends, and they want most of them.
Unfortunately, very few toys are made in anything remotely resembling an environmentally friendly manner. How do you deal with the requests for toys that are not eco friendly when you’re trying to raise a green family?
Some classics I find hard to resist, as do many other parents. The good part about some classics is that they’re pretty easy to buy used rather than new.
Legos are a good example. Many of us had them growing up. We may even have some stuffed away in a closet or at a parent’s house.
I love Legos. They encourage creativity, especially the plain block sets. But eco friendly they are not. Too much plastic.
On the plus side, they’re durable. I’d expect a set to be handed down many times. That helps a lot on the environmental side of things.
Any toy that has been out for a few months you have the chance to buy used. No guarantees, of course, and you have to look at how much they’ve been damaged by previous owners. But in terms of finding popular toys in an eco friendly manner, that’s as close as you’re going to get.
This method takes a lot of trust. You can trade with family and friends who also have kids for the toys your kids want. You may even be able to arrange a toy rotation for those toys that they want returned. Agree that a toy will spend a month, a week, whatever length of time at each house.
If this works, it also teaches sharing. It’s harder to do with really possessive kids. Children who accept the trades can enjoy the wider selection of toys they can play with without costing you a lot of money.
Have a plan for when toys break. Will they be replaced? What if one child is more careful and the other damages a lot of toys? You do not want to ruin a friendship over a few toys.
Anyone you know with kids older than yours you can encourage to give your children handmedown toys. Discuss the ones your kids want and see if they’re available. This makes gift giving within the family much cheaper if all the cousins are within a good age range.
Discover Eco Friendly Alternatives
This is hard to do, as many toys really do not have an eco friendly alternative, or at least not one most children will accept. Very few toys, relatively speaking, are made from plastic. There are more limits to what you can build with most wooden toys… just try to match something like K’Nex with a wooden or eco friendly equivalent!
When it’s possible, go for it.
Get the Toy Requested
We’re human, we parents. Sometimes just because it will delight our children, most of us will choose the toy requested, regardless of environmental considerations.
It’s best if you avoid this until you’ve gone through the other options. But when your child really wants a particular item, and you’ve been eco friendly in every way you can manage, it may not be completely unreasonable to give in. Just consider what you’ll do with the toys when they break or aren’t played with anymore. Hopefully you’ll be able to find them a good home to be played with again.