Before I had a child I made many claims about things I would or would not do once I had kids of my own. Yeah, most of those claims have not been adhered to since actually having my own child. But there were good intentions!
One such claim I made was “when I have a child, he/she won’t have plastic toys, only sustainable, earth friendly wood toys for my kid.” But alas, sometime around Jonah’s 6th month I woke up from my sleep deprived brain fog and was surprised to find a sea of plastic toys threatening to overtake my living room. Really, I had good intentions.
Anyway, in the past few months I’ve been renewing my commitment to try and buy Jonah more environmentally friendly toys and I’ve found some great things along the way during this quest. Sure, we still have plastic, but at least we’re making an effort here! Luckily, wood toys seem to be totally trendy everywhere right now, so we’ve got a great selection in Europe too. Here’s a roundup of the products we are currently loving.
I love the Plan Toys brand-their products are made from recycled rubber wood and stained with non-toxic, water-based paints. They’re also nice to look at! We love this toy for all the things you can do with it-it’s much better than your typical ring stacker because of the inside cylinders and outside rings that can be arranged in a variety of ways as curious little minds explore. This is also a toy that lasts-Jonah liked to take it apart from 10 months and I’m sure in the next couple of years he will continue to enjoy exploring it and putting it together.
These might just be the prettiest blocks that I have ever seen. Made in the USA out of replenishable basswood, Uncle Goose has an eye for design. They have alphabet blocks in English and many other languages and all of them are beautifully made. Pictured above is the groovie set and we are coveting the Polish set and the bug set. This is they type of toy you want to leave out on display!
Honestly other than being wood, I’m not sure that the Melissa and Doug brand is very earth friendly. Before the brand got as big and as popular as it is today, the puzzles used to be a really quality product-made of wood and hand painted. Now they are not all real wood and definitely don’t seem to be hand painted (although they still claim to be). Not very green and quality has gone down, but I still think that these are some of the best puzzles on the market. The jumbo knobs are the perfect size for little hands to grasp, the pictures are interesting with bright colors, and they have a big assortment from 3 piece jumbo knob puzzles to chunky puzzles to puzzles with locks and latches. All really great toys for developing kids cognitive and fine motor skills.
Haba is a German brand that is now widely available all over the world. Their blocks are made of beechwood and non-toxic solvent free dye and just looking at them, you can see how they could inspire a little one’s imagination. I especially like the Haba Fantasy Blocks-the colors and design allow for a lot of creative building from your budding little architect.
When I worked in Early Intervention, many occupational therapists would use toys like this to help children with their fine motor skills. And every time, the kids LOVED it. Maybe because they get to imitate an adult activity, maybe because it’s so satisfying to slice through the fruits and veggies and them see them separated into different pieces, maybe it’s because you can put them back together and do it a million more times-whatever the reason, it’s a hit! I like Plan Toys version of this-pictured above is their fruit set, but I especially like their fruit and veggie set. The banana even has 3 pieces to slice and dice. Beware, the pieces are small so this is an activity that really needs to be closely supervised if you have a kiddo who still mouths things.
These are made in the USA with select hardwoods and non-toxic dyes. I like the simplicity and the craftsmanship of this toy.
These cups are BPA, PVC, and phthalate free and let me tell you, at our household we have more than gotten our $9 out of them. They have been one of Jonah’s favorite toys since he was old enough to grasp things and they continue to be a go to for him. As he’s gotten older, he’s discovered a variety of ways to play with them and I like that the colors are easier on the eyes than the usual bold primaries.
This is a great toy for bath and water play and it’s made out of a recycled milk carton! Super cool.
This series of books is made from 98% post-consumer recycled material and printed with eco-friendly ink. The messages teach kids about respecting and caring for nature and at the end there are parent tips on living green. The above books are recommended for ages 3 to 6, but they also have some great sets of small “chunky” books that are perfect for chunky little hands. (Jonah likes to take them to bed with him 🙂 ). There are different series available-animals, vehicles, nursery rhymes-and they come in packs of 10 in a nice box. Makes a great gift!
Leave it to the French to create toys that are chic, beautiful to look at, and cleverly designed. Since we moved to Europe, I have developed a love affair for fine French toys among other fine French products (wine, cheese, etc. 😉 ). Jonah only shares my affinity for the toys at this point, but just wait ’till down the road. Anyway, I could go on and on about the many brands of lovely French toys, but I will leave you only with this quality product. It’s a plane, but also a puzzle! The nose, tail, wings, and wheels are all attached by strong magnets so you can disassemble and reassemble (or just walk around and bang together the pieces like SOMEBODY I know). Clever, I know. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be available in the US, but through a quick internet search, I found a couple of other Janod products in the US and rumors that there is/was a line that is sold at Target. Americans, I suggest if you stumble upon this brand to snap up these toys-your kids will thank you.
So that’s it for our green toy round up. Most of these companies have their own websites, so for more information just look them up! Links are to Amazon for convenience sake only-most of them are available at a wide range of places. Here’s to helping our kids protect the environment and play stylishly while they’re at it. 😉 Any other great green toy brands or products that I’ve missed?