With the recent rash of toy recalls due to the use of harmful lead paints and suspected dangerous plastics containing phthalates and BPA, parents are demanding toys made with non-toxic, non-hazardous materials. Economic times being what they are, it helps to know you’re hard-earned money is going to trustworthy, earth-friendly companies. By using renewable materials such as bamboo, rubberwood, organic cotton, and recycled materials such as milk jugs, toy companies are answering the call by creating affordable, safe toys all while reducing their carbon footprint and saving energy.
When Mr. Potato Head first hit the shelves in the 1950s, the kids had to provide their own potato. That may sound crazy by today’s standards, but perhaps it’s time to think again. A return to the simplistic and thought-provoking features of yesterday’s toys may be just what our little plugged-in, video game junkies need. Here are our top ten picks for green toys that kids will find fun and parents will appreciate. No batteries required.
Green Toys Tea Set
Every preschooler needs a tea set for imaginative play. The Green Toys Tea Set is durable, dishwasher-safe, and has a classic look to it. Green Toys, an award-winning toy company, makes all their toys from 100% recycled plastic, with the main ingredient being milk jugs collected from curbside recycling bins. All Green Toys are phthalate and BPA free so no need to worry about kids drinking from these cups. Green Toys come in environmental packaging, using hassle-free, recycled cardboard. This set contains 17 pieces with interchangeable lids. Recommended for age 3 and up. Made in California.
The Green Toys Tea Set sells for $21.18 on Amazon.
Green Toys Recycling Truck
Another choice from Green Toys, the Green Toys Recycling Truck is not only made from recycled milk jugs, it will teach your little one about recycling. Kids will enjoy the movable recycling bed, sorting bins for bottles, cans, and paper, and the workable dumper. Parents will enjoy the durability and no metal axles to rust. You can also feel good about your purchase knowing that Green Toys is doing their part to save energy and reduce greenhouse gases. To learn more about the Green Toys company click here. Manufacturer recommended age for the Green Toys Recycling Truck is 12 months to 9 years.
Sells for $20.15 on Amazon.
Plan Toys Balancing Cactus
The award-winning Plan Toys Balancing Cactus is a fast-paced game for 1-4 players where players take turns adding pieces, attempting to keep the cactus balanced. The first player to make the cactus fall loses. Playing the game helps develop analytical and decision making skills and encourages cooperation. Plan Toys says it’s best for kids aged 3-8, though I’m willing to bet older kids and adults will enjoy it too. Parents are always looking for games that can be played quickly and don’t involve a lot of set up. So what makes it green? It’s made out of organic rubberwood from older rubber trees that have stopped producing latex. The Plan Toys Toy Company is a chemical-free, green company who use recycled and recyclable materials.
You can purchase the Plan Toys Balancing Cactus for $19.47 on Amazon.
Citiblocs Wooden Building Block Set
The Citiblocs Wooden Building Block Set is proof that simplicity works. The wood to make Citiblocs is Grade A Radiata Pine from certified renewable forests in New Zealand. Each block is precision cut to the same size and shape which makes building possibilities endless and clean-up a snap. No need for glue, magnets, or connector pieces. Citiblocs has earned 20 industry awards, including the Dr. Toy Best Green Product Award and the Mom’s Choice Award. Schools across the country are using Citiblocs in the classroom to promote confidence and logical thinking. Recommended for ages 3 and up.
miYim Simply Organic Plush Collection
For the newest member on your holiday shopping list, the miYim Simply Organic collection of stuffed toys are made with 100% USDA certified organic cotton. They are non-toxic and use an environmentally friendly dye process using plants and minerals. Each miYim product comes in a collectible signature gift box, made of recycled materials and perfect for gift-giving. The only complaint from some Amazon reviewers is that the material is not as “plush” as perhaps most people are used to in stuffed animals, but most said that it is still soft and what it lacks in plushness, it makes up for in durability. Recommended for ages 0 months and up, parents don’t have to worry about their babies putting this toy in their mouths.
The miYim Organic Simply Plush Andrew the Hippo can be purchased for $23.27 on Amazon.
Elenco Snap Circuits Green – Alternative Energy Kit
For the older kids, the Elenco Snap Circuits Green Alternative Energy Kit will teach them about the latest innovations in green technology. This toy was also a winner of the Dr. Toy Best Green Product. Kids can build over 125 projects using a hand crank, FM radio, solar cell, windmill, LEDs, rechargeable battery, clock, and analog meter. Includes an educational manual which explains alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, and hydrogen fuel cells. Recommended for ages 8 and up. This set is compatible with other Snap Circuits sets.
Sells for $42.38 on Amazon.
HaPe International E-Racer Monza
No toy box is complete without a super cool race car. The HaPe International E-Racer Monza offers a classic sleek design that is made with environmentally friendly materials. HaPe International, an innovator in producing bamboo toys, builds each car from a single piece of bamboo wood. The sporty finish is painted with non-toxic, water-based paint. The E-Racer Monza is suitable for ages 3-10 and would make a great stocking stuffer. Also comes in green or blue.
The HaPe International E-Racer Monza sells for $16.61 on Amazon.
Makedo is a connector system that uses a child’s unlimited imagination and items found around the house, such as cardboard boxes, packaging materials, and fabric. Using a pin and clip connector, a hinge, and an injury-proof construction tool, kids aged 3 and up can turn ordinary objects into works of art. Just check out the gallery pictures on Makedo’s website. Their creations can be disassembled and used over and over again. The whole concept behind Makedo is re-usability and the company uses 100% recyled materials for it’s packaging and printed materials. The toy itself is made of nylon 6,6- a single material chosen for strength and flexibility. Since nylon recycling is not widespread, Makedo will take back any pieces to ensure that they do not end up in a landfill.
Makedo comes in a variety of kits and includes a poster of project ideas. The Makedo Kit for One contains 65 pieces and sells for $19.95 on Amazon.
Vehicle Memory Tile Game
The Vehicle Memory Tile Game is made by Maple Landmark, a company in Vermont who uses local resources to produce high quality, handmade wooden toys, games, and puzzles. Maple Landmark was awarded the Green Toy Company Award from Dr. Toy. This classic memory game set includes 24 tiles to make 12 matches of different types of vehicles. The tiles are made from birch plywood and the picture on each tile is finished with non-toxic dye and stains. An all-natural cloth pouch is included for storage and simple clean-up. Recommended for ages 3 and up.
You can purchase The Vehicle Memory Tile Game on Amazon for $19.40.
ImagiPLAY Fruit Cutting Set
Preschoolers love to play with pretend food and this 17-piece play set takes it a step further with fruit sectioned by velcro to make a realistic cutting sound. The cutting action helps develop motor skills and hand/eye coordination. ImagiPLAY is another toy company dedicated to respecting the planet by using rubberwood to make their products. With a lead free paint job and wooden storage box, parents will appreciate the safety and educational features of this toy. Recommended for ages 2-5.
The ImagiPLAY Fruit Cutting Set sells for $24.85 on Amazon.