Just because a toy or gift is safe for users doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for the planet. Here are tips to help you pick toys and gifts that are better for the environment this holiday season.
Look for recycled stuff
You’d be surprised at the variety of gifts and toys made of recycled content. Some are only partially composed of recycled materials, while others are completely made up of reused components. Look for toys that contain recycled content to minimize impact. You can also seek out products that are Cradle to Cradle certified – that means they’re designed so that at the end of their useful life, they will be easy to recycle.
Natural materials sustainably harvested are a very eco-friendly option
Lots of toys and gifts come from trees – everything from wooden blocks to books and craft paper to board games. Look for the FSC-Certification to be sure that the trees used to make your gift were harvested sustainably to minimize the disruption and destruction of key ecosystems.
If you're going high-tech, opt for EPEAT-registered electronics
EPEAT-registered products are designed to minimize the negative impact of a product’s lifecycle. The EPEAT program considers everything from energy used in manufacturing a product to the release of harmful chemicals during its decomposition. Look for electronics with the EPEAT logo to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, wastewater volume and solid waste byproducts associated with the manufacture of the toy. As a bonus, EPEAT requires registered products to meet the latest ENERGY STAR specifications, so they take less energy to run.
Consider gifting temporary toys
New “toy library” services are reducing the amount of waste generated by toy turnover. The details vary but the concept is consistent: you pay to get a toy, either on an item-by-item basis or through a subscription. When your child is done with the toy, the service accepts it back. You get another toy to amuse the kid.
Gifting a child with a subscription is a great way to keep them entertained and reduce the volume of waste produced when kids outgrow a toy or become bored with it.
Spring for quality toys
Kids might not care much about toy quality, but poorly-made toys that don't last long will stay in landfills for a long time. Look for quality products that will serve another owner well when the time comes, whether that’s the original recipient’s younger sibling or a neighbor in need.
Though different from material gifts, experiential presents mean less waste and often generate happiness that lasts far longer than that produced by a passing widget. Tickets to a concert, two horseback riding lessons or an afternoon of bowling don’t generate much waste, but they do create lasting memories.
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