Activist Mommy

{July 3, 2007}   Fun, without all the fancy packaging

The Star had a great article on Friday called Toymakers are missing the green revolution that I absolutely loved. It really hit an important point that many parents seem to be missing. Toys, our modern toys that parents buy today are ecological nightmares. Tons of packaging on plastic toys made and shipped from half way across the world that break in a week are overflowing out of our trashcans. Those cheap plastic pieces of junk shoved inside ever kid’s Happy Meal or stuffed into goody bags at birthday parties are quickly broken or forgotten about. And then what happens to them?

We teach them to flick off the lights when they leave the room. They’ve mastered the habit of turning off the tap while brushing their teeth. And they’re fluent in matters of separating the garbage, litterless lunches and eco-footprints.

But open the toy box, hit the birthday party circuit or stroll down the aisles of the nearest Toys R Us and the whole notion of raising greener kids seems to disappear in a cloud of noxious gas.

My sons have one set of grandparents who fall more into the books and clothes as gifts range. Unfortunately, my mother thinks that more is always better. And this includes toys. Until I finally put my foot down and got rude our house was overflowing with junk toys every day. I was bagging them up to drop off at the thrift shop at least once a month. It was disgusting to think about, and even worse to actually see.

Now we are a bit pickier on our toys. We have a nice set of finger puppets that we play with often. Wooden blocks, wooden puzzles, a wooden toolbox with play tools. My mother even bought us last year a handmade and hand painted wooden trainset from a local crafter. It was pricey, $70, but oh so worth it. It even came in a beautiful handmade wooden box for storing. Buying handcrafted, nonplastic toys from local people is high on our radar of gifts. We also make sure the toys are sturdy ones that will last though multiple kids, and ones that won’t be tossed aside when the next fad comes along. Tranformers will go the way of the Ninja Turtle, but trains are here to stay.

We also look for good toys second hand. A few months ago I managed to find a box full of metal cars circa 1970. that my sons have fallen madly in love with. They have a huge outdoor play house with slide that I found at a garage sale for less than a quarter of the cost new. Buying them toys second hand means there is no new packaging made, and it doesn’t take anymore gas to get to me than what I use driving to the thrift shop. Rather than perfectly good toys taking up space in landfills, we give them a second life with us.

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iamcimbria says:

I agree, we try to buy as many thing as we can on craigslist secondhand. My 3 year old goes around the house turning off all the lights and we are in the dark most of the time but then she wants the my little pony castle. It’s very confusing.

We buy a lot of stuff second hand too. My dad made my boys a set of wooden trucks and cars that will last for a long time. Toys are funner when they do less and leave more for you to imagine.

Excellent message! And kids really do listen and follow our example. My son is always on the alert for litter and never wants to be a litter bug. He has also gotten to the point where he looks at packaging and will say, “Well, can we recycle this?” or–even better–“This looks cool, but it’s way over-packaged.” I beam with pride!

[…] mommy presents Fun, without all the fancy packaging. I enjoyed this post for several reasons, not the least of which is that I find all the crazy […]

[…] mommy presents Fun, without all the fancy packaging. I enjoyed this post for several reasons, not the least of which is that I find all the crazy […]

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