As a parent, I know how hard it can be to fall into the trap of buying plastic toys. Especially as your kids grow older and aren’t as impressed by wooden blocks and sock puppets anymore!
But as hard as it can be to break the cycle of buying these mainstream toys, it’s now more important than ever to start looking for alternatives and using our purchasing power to buy more sustainable gifts for kids.
This article may contain compensated/affiliate links. See our full disclosure here.
Making the Change from Plastic to Environmentally Friendly Toys
Kids are surrounded by plastic these days. Think of all the little trinkets they collect throughout the year – at Easter, birthday parties, Halloween, and Christmas. And don’t even get me started on the plastic junk from Fast Food chains and inside cereal boxes. It’s never-ending. And where do most of these cheap plastic toys end up? More often than not, it’s the trash can. And then landfills, where they can take around 1000 years to break down.
Even the better quality children’s toys cannot be recycled, and while some can be gifted, or sold on to other children, you may be surprised to learn that the large majority actually end up in the landfill, or worse still, in the ocean.
It’s incredibly wasteful. For the earth’s resources, and on your pocket. And if we pause to think about the message we’re sending to our kids by buying into this cycle, I think we’ll all agree, we can do better for the next generation.
Where to Find Eco-Friendly Gifts for Kids
While we can probably all agree that buying cheaply made plastic toys isn’t the way forward, where exactly do you find earth-friendly toys that kids will love?
Luckily, there are some amazing companies stepping up to fill this gap in the market with their sustainable alternatives to traditional toys. But when that doesn’t quite hit the mark either, the next best thing you can do is buy quality toys that are built to last. And ensure that when your child is done with them, that they’re given another life by donating them to another child.
Below I’ve included some great options that you can pick up easily online, but be sure to also check out your local thrift store for quality used toys, and your local independent boutiques too.
Everything offered from Green Toys has been made from 100% recycled plastic. Not just any plastic; however – recycled milk bottles. This is a great way to make recycled plastic toys as it means they meet FDA standards by default due to their original food-safe use.
This makes them very safe for young kids who tend to put the toys in their mouths. Green Toys actually exceed the toy safety standards!
These toys contain zero PVC, BPA, or phthalates.
Green Toys also offer toys to use in the bath, outdoors, at the beach, with dough sets, and influenced by Disney. If you’re looking for a great range of eco-friendly toys for kids, Green Toys is an excellent place to start.
Under The Nile offers clothing, receiving blankets, and dolls for babies, toddlers, and kids. These products are all safe for little ones and made from organic cotton to ensure that they can be used right from birth.
Baby’s skin is so sensitive that many parents don’t feel comfortable putting anything on it other than the highest quality organic cotton around. The Cotton Swaddle Blanket, Striped Baby Pull Up Pants, and the Organic Cotton Receiving Blanket are excellent choices for babies and kids alike.
Under The Nile also offers plush toys in amazingly cute shapes. There are teething rings, plush toys in the shape of mushrooms and stars, and even large plush eco-friendly dolls that can be carried around everywhere.
These dolls offer a refreshing alternative to the plastic dolls that you find in almost every toy aisle in conventional stores. Under The Nile’s eco-friendly children’s toys help kids develop their fine motor skills, cognitive development, and self-help skills.
The Safari Jack Dress Up Doll is a lovely eco-friendly toy for kids that can teach them empathy and responsibility. If there’s one toy on this list that you choose, we think that the Under The Nile dolls offer your kid amazing developmental opportunities while having fun.
Lots of kids love to forage and collect rocks from outside, wherever they go. Having a kid often means that your house will quickly fill up with shells, twigs, and rocks that they’ve found outside and thought were cool enough to bring all the way back home.
Crayon rocks are not real rocks, but actually, pebble-shaped crayons that your child can use to color and draw with. They are made with non-toxic materials and soy-based wax which makes them biodegradable toys too!
You’ll get 64 colored rocks in 16 colors, so your kid will have plenty of crayons to color with. There will also be no crying once they’ve exhausted their favorite color as there are four rocks of each color in every box!
Not only do these crayon rocks look much more interesting than normal crayons, but they also help your child to learn the tripod grip. This makes it easier for them to learn how to hold a pencil and develop their writing skills.
This beautiful wooden toy is handmade by Vinny’s Toys and is one of many handmade eco-friendly toys from the manufacturer. This wooden toy is very similar to plastic trucks that you will see in toy shops but is a much more sustainable and eco-friendly choice.
This wooden toy in the shape of a truck is simplistic yet you can see how much effort has been put into crafting it. This is a great toy for those who enjoy minimalism or who want to display their toys proudly on their shelf rather than piling them up in a hidden drawer somewhere.
Vinny’s sustainable toys are unpainted, so they don’t contain any harmful substances and are safe for even very young children to play with.
This wooden truck can be used to load up wooden bricks or other small objects and carting them around the house, before dumping them with the tipper again. Hours of imaginative play awaits!
Kids love playing with dough thanks to its malleable shape and ability to create new objects! Unfortunately, a lot of popular dough on the market contains harmful ingredients that are could be toxic to your child.
Store-bought doughs also often can contain borax which should not be ingested by anyone! While a child eating a small amount of dough shouldn’t hurt them, you don’t necessarily want to take the risk when there are safer alternatives.
Eco dough is a non-toxic alternative that leaves you safe in the knowledge that even if they accidently (or otherwise!) ingest some, it’s not going to make them sick. The ingredients list is all-natural with essential oils for a lovely scent.
You get the three primary colors in this set but you can mix them together to make all of the colors of the rainbow!
Green Kid Crafts is a subscription box that delivers 4 to 6 science and art projects right to your door every month. These are both fun and exciting for your child to learn more about the world around them through engaging STEM projects.
Your child can learn about shapes and structures, the solar system, robotics, reptiles, and much more. One thing that customers love is the fact that you get up to 6 projects every month, meaning that your child can enjoy their crafts throughout the month until the next box shows up.
Choose between a Junior Box for ages 2 to 4 or a Discovery Box for ages 5 to 10 and upwards. There are different payment plans you can choose from depending on what’s best for you and your family. The more months you commit to, the more money you can save.
All of the materials in the box are eco-friendly and sustainable too, meaning that even if your child doesn’t use all of the materials for their crafts, you’re not wasting anything or contributing to landfill.
Another great thing about Green Kid Crafts is that they are partnered with One Tree Planted to plant a tree with every online order.
Stoie’s music set features nine wooden instruments from across the globe, allowing your child to experience and learn about different cultures through their sounds. Each instrument is made from kid-friendly materials that are smooth and durable, without any colored paints being used in their production.
Making music with your child offers a great bonding experience for you and the entire family. You might not be the next Jackson Five, but you will all be having fun and enjoying each other’s company!
Musical instruments can help children develop their creativity and set them up for success in the future. Introducing them to instruments early on allows them to develop their fine motor skills, as well as introducing them to the art of making music. Who knows – this might be the first stepping stone into their music career!
EverEarth is a family-run business that creates sustainable wooden toys and promotes eco-friendly practices. One of the main reasons why EverEarth was started was to help maintain and preserve the environment.
They are also a part of the Plant-A-Tree initiative, meaning that every purchase allows the child and their parents to be a part of the EverEarth FSC-Certified forest that EverEarth is responsible for. This is a great way to teach young children about how important nature is and why we strive to be more environmentally friendly.
EverEarth also uses dyes that have zero toxins, packaging that can be recycled, and eco-friendly shipping methods. They also try to repurpose as many waste products as they can to reduce how much waste they’re responsible for.
PlanToys is another excellent eco toys company that makes creative and enjoyable toys for kids and toddlers. They are durable thanks to being made from rubberwood trees, which also makes them sustainable too!
Being formed with non-formaldehyde glue and water-based dyes makes them safe for toddlers who like to put things in their mouths.
There are so many excellent toys from PlanToys that suit all interests. For example, for kids who enjoy playing pretend, they offer a Pretend Play Doll Stroller, a Pretend Play Wild Animal Set, and a Pretend Play Waffle Set.
They also offer various other Pretend Play activities such as a refrigerator, microwave, dentist set, makeup bag, and a multi-use kids play center – there’s something to suit every kid!
There are also gifts for kids who like playing mechanics, such as the Play Motor Mechanic Set, and lots of wooden toys for babies, toddlers, and older children. PlanToys is an excellent choice for simplistic yet enjoyable eco-friendly toys.
Wishbone Design Studio focuses on making eco-friendly bikes and bike accessories for kids. The bikes are made from recycled plastic or sustainably harvested wood and feature a simplistic and lightweight design ideal for kids to enjoy with their friends.
After your child has finished with their bike or outgrown it, the bike is actually recyclable! This means that there is no waste created, even if the bike breaks and can’t be given to another child to enjoy.
There is also a Mini Flip Baby Walker for younger children to enjoy and get used to the act of riding on bikes. Wishbone Design Studio also offers plenty of accessories for their bikes that are eco-friendly such as a bike seat, bike bag, and a bike bell too!
As you can see, there are plenty of eco-friendly gifts for kids on the market. We hope that you’ve managed to find something for the child in your life who is about to open up the best gift ever!
Kids go through so many toys that there is bound to be waste. Mass-produced toys are also commonly cheaply made and easily breakable. Eco-friendly toys are not only better for the environment, but they’re also of higher quality and will last for much longer than cheap plastic toys – a win for parents and the environment!