Kids

Buy your Kids a Treehouse Instead – The Environment and Buying Children’s Toys

Michelle Tether
Written by Michelle Tether

The featured image of outdoor recreation is by treehouselife.co.uk and it looks lovely. I’ll probably be giving away my poor background as a child but then I have no problem with that, my most memorable toy was a handmade dolls house – it didn’t look much but it was my first real toy – how times have changed!

My father was a thrifty useful man, he would make the best of what materials we had laying around, and I believe to an extent, that’s why I like the same things. At the time, being thrifty made no sense to me, other children and friends made fun of me, ironically, these are now friends desperate to help save the environment. Here’s a look at a very nice handmade dolls house.

handmade dolls house

Image source. very nice handmade dolls house

Parents can use their budget in a smart and environmentally friendly ways when they look for toys – we’ve already seen tree houses in previous articles that cost a few quid to make, and no doubt have had more use than toys that have cost hundreds.

We do not need to feel guilty because our children our experiencing peer pressure to buy the latest crap Nike trainers. They will understand eventually, and more fool the parents that did waste all that money on junk.

Treehouse for kids

More and more businesses are getting savvy to the growing environmental movement, and it’s not as hard as some parents might think to get green gifts that are very impressive. Mums and dads just need to be a bit more conscious and creative in their shopping, for example, your child might be pressuring you for the latest computer but why not make them a really serious tree house. Children are spending too much time in front of the TV as it is, without us buying toys that seal this fate, and further endorse it. Take a look at this brilliant treehouse. I fail to see how any child would not find hours of enjoyment from it and if you had a few hundred pounds budget then something environmentally friendly is possible.

treehouse for kids

Treehouse for kids by cedarandthyme.com

Be Careful of Soft Plastic Toys

Many soft plastic toys contain nasties that are called phthalates. There are Cancer Societies concerned that there might be a higher risk of getting cancer when exposed to certain phthalates. A number of western countries have banned products with phthalates.

Batteries not included…at all if possible

Try to limit the number of toys that have or need batteries. If parents do buy toys that require batteries, then they should buy rechargeable ones and a recharger and get kids into the habit of plugging in. I’ve mentioned before, we must be careful and teach our children the dangers of electrical sockets. Do not allow your child to charge their own batteries unless you are certain there is no risk. Rechargeable batteries can be used over and over and have less of an environmental impact compared to regular batteries. They also make life easier as there’s no need to continually run to the shop for replacements.

Look for “natural” toys and avoid the pitfalls

Buy toys that are made from materials found in nature and have less processing, there’s always craft fairs worth visiting for this exact thing. Instead of a plastic train, perhaps, choose a wooden one. Instead of plastic doll, choose one made with cotton, hemp and wool. Toys that are made of wood are often painted, find out if non-toxic paints or dyes were used, or if they have a natural oil finish like linseed or beeswax. the DIY effort below is really nice. It actually has real practical value for cooking and all the utensils are stainless, so they’ll last well too.

Wooden toys for the kids

Wooden toys for the kids – this is on sale at eBay

Buying toys that are free of harmful chemicals is especially important for babies and young children who are more likely to suck and chew on them – I highly recommend taking this approach at least some of the time. Giving your children awareness of the environmental problem is a big step forward and by far the best toy we can give them is our time – an education in the garden learning how to plant, and how to look after the vegetable patch is super important.

Research Ethical Standards of Toy Company

Buying the cheapest toy can will almost certainly mean a parent is buying a toy that has been created in a less than ethical environment where employees work long hours for little pay and in poor or even dangerous conditions, which almost guarantees green standards are not observed. They simply cannot be because of the small money involved, and the greedy capitalism. About70% of all toys are made in China and there are also worries that workers are abused or that children are being put to work to make items in developing nations, if they’d do that to their own kids, I doubt they’ll have any concerns putting nasty chemicals in the toys if it improves the bottom line. Parents can feel better about their choice by shopping in fair trade stores or buying items that are from fairs as previously mentioned

Parents can also search out craftspeople in their area, Twitter, and Instagram are a great place for local people and choose toys that are made in the local community.

Reuse and Recycle Toys

One of the best things parents can do to reduce their environmental footprint is to avoid buying new toys at all. Parents can do a toy exchange with friends and neighbours and eBay is a brilliant resource for second hand materials. You can go to boot fairs, or there are even swap meets that specialise in children’s items, you just need to join the right Facebook groups.

Parents can also check out garage sales for second-hand toys. They can also do the same, by passing on or selling toys that their children are no longer playing with. If toys are successfully put back to use, the impact on the environment is incredible. One of the best things we are doing right now, is sending these toys to needy countries, where kids are like us forty years ago, just having one nice toy was amazing!

Create toys with things we have laying around

It’s amazing the fun a child can have with household items and a little imagination, earlier in the article I talked about my dolls house, what I didn’t mention until now was that it was a heap of junk!? I loved it and that’s all that mattered! A simple toy or idea can keep kids busy for a long time – how many kids love a box? A big one can be painted and cut up to become a house, a spaceship or a car. This clever parent came up with a fire engine. I bet this didn’t even cost £3.

What to do with a cardboard box

Image source. What to do with a cardboard box – wonderful idea.

I often feel demoralised when they get a fancy toy, but the box draws more attention. Parents and kids can also make things together in the kitchen, like cooking up their own play dough or mixing up some goop, why not get them into crafty works such as making their own soap!

We can be good to the planet when shopping for toys. Simply choose natural products over plastic ones when we can, buying toys second-hand and making our own toys with kids whenever we have time with the leftovers and whatever is around the house or garden.

About the author

Michelle Tether

Michelle Tether

I love everything home. I write as a passion for non profit about the things I love.

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