December 2009 | Vol. VIII - No. 12
Tips for Buying “Green” This Christmas
Why It’s Important to Look Past the Label
Wanting the perfect “green” gift to put under the tree? If you’re concerned with the environmental impact of manufacturing and the materials used in your kids’ playthings, as many parents are, the good news is there’s an increasing number of toys, games and baby items that meet progressive criteria for eco-friendliness. A few toy industry professionals shared with TDmonthly Magazine some tips on picking toys that are truly environmentally sound:
See eco-friendly toys for the holidays.
1. Seek Sustainability. “Look for ‘sustainable’ products made from renewable, biodegradable, organic or recycled materials that are recyclable themselves,” advised Geraldine Lewis, founder of GBL & CLJR PUBLISHING and creator of the Popsi doll.
2. Check the Carbon Footprint. “If toys break easily, need to be replaced often, or require large amounts of non-renewable resources to reach their destination, the benefit gained by green manufacturing processes is diminished,” Shannon Sizemore, founder of eco-conscious online store Bitsy Birdie, told TDmonthly.
3. Choose Quality. Money may be tight, but don’t waste it on toys that won’t last. “If you're buying a product that is going to last longer, you're in all cases contributing in a good way rather than buying something disposable,” said Jamie Kreisman, president of Beka Inc.
4. Look Beyond the Label. “Eco-friendly” and “green” identification doesn’t ensure a product is constructed of the best materials. “[Parents] should look for specific information on the materials used, any certifications obtained, and compliance to defined safety standards. Avoid lead and many plastics such as polycarbonate (PVC), and polystyrene, Bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates,” added Lewis.
5. Examine Plastics. Don’t hesitate to inspect the materials. “One way to distinguish between different types of plastics is to look for recycling codes,” Lewis told TDmonthly. “Look for numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5, or the abbreviations PET (or PETE), HDPE, LDPE, PP. These are not known to leach any chemicals of concern, and are widely recyclable.”
6. Research. Sizemore advocates researching products online prior to purchasing. While it’s more common to find environmentally friendly options on the Web, she said, an increasing number of stores are stocking earth-friendly selections.
7. Support Conservation Efforts. If you really want to make sure the products you’re buying are from a reputable business whose practices bleed green, too, look into it. Bitsy Birdie, for example, supports environmental foundations and “practice[s] energy conservation by recycling, using limited lighting, and doing business online to limit driving,” Sizemore said.
In addition to checking out eco-friendly options in TDmonthly’s Holiday Gift Guide, see some green toys below:
This rugged playset is constructed of Sprigwood, which is a bio-composite material that blends reclaimed wood and recycled plastic, and is dyed with safe pigments. The set includes explorer and rescue boats, Captain Owen the adventure guide, an interchangeable adventure hat, a life preserver, mother and baby dolphins, and a backpack accessory.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26135 (added 11/20/2009)
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Made from organic cotton and sustainable rubber wood, this mischievous monkey hangs from just about anywhere. Launch date: October 15, 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26081 (added 11/16/2009)
This bear features fur made of 70-percent natural bamboo fleece and 30-percent organic cotton, and is stuffed with hypoallergenic, biodegradable nature-fil derived from corn. Hemp and organic cotton are used on the bear’s character’s ears, feet, tail and paw pads. Non-toxic, cold water dyes were used. Launch date: November 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26030 (added 11/9/2009)
These bears come from the Green Mountains of Vermont, but their cuddly soft fur and paw pads are made from 100-percent recycled post-consumer plastic bottles — the same fabric that goes into making some of the world's softest fleece and other cozy fabrics. They're made with 100-percent recycled stuffing. And just like all Vermont Teddy Bears, Go Green Bears feature "Born in Vermont" eyes and a "tush tag" confirming an unconditional lifetime guarantee. Launch date: November 15, 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26001 (added 11/5/2009)
The Jane Goodall Save the Animals Kit features 50 icons of species that have been brought back from extinction. With each purchase, 10 percent is donated to the Jane Goodall Institute to continue to raise awareness and support the animals of the world. "[It's] the only kit to feature these 50 species and the kit bracelets and elements are made from recycled materials," Ewa Zielinski, owner of Shainsware, told TDmonthly. Launch date: September 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25999 (added 11/5/2009)
This soft doll is made of organic fabric and colored with vegetable dyes. Launch date: Fall 2009.
— The My Natural Good Earth Fairy is eco-friendly inside and out; she is stuffed with organic cotton, wears a leafy skirt made from linen, and features rosy cheeks created with plants and minerals. Young girls love the Good Earth Fairy, and many of them were almost equally excited by the sturdy reusable cardboard gift box the fairy comes packaged in, turning it into a home for their fairy or a place to keep valuables. Reviewers found the doll well constructed and strong enough to survive their attempts to rip out its hair (all in the name of science, of course). Jodi Grundig from Mom’s Favorite Stuff felt assured by the doll, knowing its natural materials would not aggravate her children’s allergies. With a cute design, high durability, and environment conscious materials, the Mi Yim Good Earth Fairy is a winner with parents and kids alike.
— "Excited to add this product to the other MiYim items we carry. Quality and packaging are top-notch," Marlene England of Dancing Bear Toys & Gifts, told TDmonthly at Toy Fair 2010.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25709 (added 10/21/2009)
Ducky is part of a collection of five eco-friendly stuffed animals produced in a certified organic plush toy factory in China and made with organic cotton, natural silk, sustainably grown corn fiber, soy and hemp, and non-toxic plastics. Ducky (about 9" tall) holds a heart-shaped apple rattle and comes packaged in a round red box with a leaf and ribbon on top. He has a furry tuft of soy plush on top of his head in case you weren't already charmed by his webbed feet. Launch date: September 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25629 (added 10/19/2009)
Rootensils come in an assortment of colors including red, purple, blue, and pink. Comes in a set of two (one spoon and one fork), these simple utensils are great for small hands. Rootensils are dishwasher safe, microwaveable, made of plant-based material, non-toxic, compostable, biodegradable, and are BPA free, Pthalate free, and PVC free.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25626 (added 10/19/2009)
The Pura Kiki line is a modern and eco-friendly stainless steel infant and toddler bottle line. Kiki is 100-percent BPA-free and 100-percent toxin free. The bottles are crafted from food-service stainless steel and also feature stainless lids/collars in addition to wide-neck food-service-grade cross-cut silicone nipples. Kiki is also compatible with sip spouts and wide-mouth silicone nipples from virtually all leading manufacturers. The Kiki line is backed by a lifetime warranty. "All bottles in the Kiki line work seamlessly with Pura nipples and spouts as well as those from most leading vendors," Jenifer Moore, vice president of Pura Stainless, told TDmonthly. Launch date: September 13, 2009. (photo does not represent Starter Set)
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25493 (added 10/5/2009)
Popsi, The Daughter of Mother Nature (Recycled Plush Doll) by GBL & CLjr Publishing
Other products from GBL & CLjr Publishing
Popsi is a loveable, huggable plush doll that stands 11” tall and is made from recycled plastic bottles spun into fiber stuffing and an eco-chic hot pink outfit. Her body fabric is composed of certified organic cotton. The long soft flowing hair is made from certified organic wool. Popsi comes to life in her own storybook titled "Popsi, The Daughter of Mother Nature." Popsi empowers children to take her lessons into their homes, school and communities resulting in a better world for everyone. Popsi is non-toxic doll that saves energy, reduces landfill waste, lowers greenhouse gas emissions and is proudly made in the U.S.A. and won the Dr. Toy Best Green Product of 2009. Please note: Popsi's Tote Bag is designed with a special front pocket just for her! She can be carried in the front, while the main interior is ideal for toting the book. This is not shown in the attached video, but you can see an example here.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25417 (added 9/25/2009)
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Dragon Tears is one of many colors in the Piggy Paint nail polish line. This sparkling, green polish is reminiscent of a common mythical green dragon. Piggy Paint is an eco-friendly, non-toxic nail polish designed for fancy girls. This hypoallergenic, odorless formula is designed to be gentle enough for sensitive little hands and noses, yet it dries to a hard, durable finish. "Not only are consumers going green, but Moms are always looking for safe products for their little angels," Melanie Hurley, CEO of Piggy Paint, told TDmonthly.
— Elmer Carranza, assistant manager of Doodlehopper 4 Kids in Falls Church, Va., told TDmonthly in an October 2011 survey that they sell about two dozen nail polishes each month, making it their best selling tween product.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25317 (added 9/9/2009)
The simple shapes of this mobile are laser-cut to showcase the natural beauty of bamboo. "Our product features laser-cut, sustainably harvested bamboo. It is 100-percent made in the USA. We hired a non-profit employing adults with disabilities to package our products," Lorena Siminovich, owner of Petit Collage, told TDmonthly. Launch date: 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25205 (added 8/28/2009)
Powered by the sun's rays, this alternative-energy toy car requires no batteries or tools, and contains less than a dozen parts to assemble. Launch date: April 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25131 (added 8/27/2009)
Bops - Wooden Percussion Toys by ONE WORLD PROJECTS INC.
Other products from ONE WORLD PROJECTS INC.
These frogs, fish and turtles are handmade in Vietnam using the ecologically harvested woods of the tropical jackfruit tree, and only when the tree is no longer able to bear fruit. The company calls them "bop-animals," as "bop" is the Vietnamese word for the "ribbit" you hear when you run a wooden stick (included) along their spine. These fair-trade items are made by artisans. Launch date: April 22, 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25005 (added 8/19/2009)
Mini Fuzz that Wuzz Zzzzoo Animals - Penguin by MARY MEYER CORP.
Other products from MARY MEYER CORP.
This small, fuzzy penguin features an exterior of high-quality polyester fiber created from recycled plastic bottles. Launch date: Summer 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 24910 (added 8/10/2009)
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These big, whimsical wall art prints (18" x 24") are both educational and eco-friendly, and depict the friends and adventures of Greenie, the eco-friendly elephant. The peel-and-stick wall art is designed to be removed and relocated hundreds of times without losing adhesive ability, marring walls or leaving residue. The inks, adhesive and coatings are all water based, so the wall art is safe for infants, toddlers and children of all ages.
— Michelle, A Happy Hippy Mom, highlighted the fabric texture of the print and its extremely easy application and reapplication process. The eco-friendly inks, laminates and adhesives used for the print allowed Michelle to safely hang the print low enough for her son to fully appreciate his new animal friends.
— 2 Wired 2 Tired’s Tésa used a Greenie2Steps lion print to help her daughter conquer her nightmares. The bright and colorful lion makes Tésa’s daughter smile as it keeps bad dreams away.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 24833 (added 8/4/2009)
Cheekeyes are a series of wooden play sets with distinctive pink cheeks and dreamy eyes. These toys are handmade from eco-friendly rubberwood and are partially painted. There are more than seven playsets: Arctic, Africa, Dino, Forest, Farm, Rainforest and Sea. The average size of an animals is between 6 and 14 cm wide and 8 and 12 cm high. "Brought to you from The Netherlands (Europe) by STUDIO SPOON ... there are no bells or whistles, no batteries or flashing lights. All you need is just a little imagination and magic begins to happen. The Cheekeyes will definitely spark your kid's imagination and will encourage open-ended, educational play," Rogier van Zijp, designer for STUDIO SPOON B.V., told TDmonthly. Cheekeyes received a 2009 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award. Launch date: 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 24763 (added 7/24/2009)
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Writer's Bio: Julie L. Jones has written articles for both newspapers and magazines. Before joining the staff of TDmonthly Magazine, she worked as a communications writer and provided editorial support for a market research company. Read more articles by this author
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