Behind the golden-wrapped gifts and the festively decorated holiday trees, there’s a darker side to the holiday season, with consumerism leading the charge.
Each year, consumers waste more than $15.2 billion dollars annually on unwanted gifts. Of those unwanted gifts, Optoro, a reverse logistic company, estimates that 5 billion pounds of returned goods likely end up in a landfill, to waste away having never been used.
And with approximately 80% of toys winding up in trash, the types of toys you buy matters. A lot.
Currently, more than 90% of toys in-market are made of plastic, but some standout companies are looking to innovate the toy industry as we know it. Read on to learn how you can support several of the growing list of environmentally-friendly and sustainable toys and producers seeking to make a change this holiday season.
1. For The Doll Lover: Mattel’s Barbie’s Gone Green
Since the original release of the Barbie doll in 1959 by Mattel, Barbie dolls have come leaps and bounds to represent women of all sizes, skin colors, and occupations. Now, Barbie is hopping on the green train with a new Barbie doll released in 2021 made 90% from recycled plastics, called “Barbie Loves The Ocean Doll.”
As one of the largest toy companies in the world, Mattel’s shift to create recycled, eco-friendly toys represents a huge change in the industry toward more sustainable toy alternatives. Plus, Barbie Loves The Ocean’s doll is trendy and fun, with recycled accessories ranging from sunglasses to a two-piece suit.
Shop Now: Barbie Loves The Ocean Doll
2. For The Builder: Eco-Bricks™ by Once-Kids
Inspire creativity and innovation with a starting set of Eco-Bricks™, made of non-toxic natural wood. Buy a pre-colored kit or color it yourself with colored pencils, markers, or paint. These Eco-Bricks™ make for the perfect alternative to plastic Legos, which are not biodegradable and are currently made with ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), a more toxic plastic that takes between 100 to 1,000 years to biodegrade.
In addition to Eco-Bricks, Once-Kids (which stands for organic, natural, charitable, and eco-friendly) also offers hand-painted wooden action figures and wooden play sets featuring prominent cities around the world. What kid wouldn’t be enchanted by these beautifully handcrafted toys?
Shop Now: Purchase Them Here
3. For The Artist: eco-kids’ Earth-Friendly Finger Paint
When purchasing environmentally-friendly art supplies, it can be a fraught and overwhelming process of avoiding paints with VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), oil paints with petroleum, or acrylics that are non-biodegradable, as discussed by Real Milk Paint and Green Matters.
Luckily, eco-kids Finger Paint seeks to solve that issue by creating non-toxic, natural paint powder made of ingredients you’d find in your pantry—like potatoes, rice, and beans—and organic fruit and vegetable extracts. Sold in packs of four that include Blueberry Blue, Watermelon Red, Cabbage Green, and Orange, these adorable little sets are sure to spark the artist within all the while creating a low-waste alternative to the traditional everyday paint set.
Beyond finger paints, eco-kids also offers a wide selection of art supplies, ranging from eco-dough and a beeswax candle making kit to biodegradable and non-toxic milk paint and a DIY natural rose-scented bead kit.
Shop Now: eco-kids Finger Paint
4. For The Kid Who Can’t Get Enough Plush: A Stuffed Animal With Real-World Impact from the World Wildlife Fund
While not a traditional toy company, we’d be remiss not to mention the incredible toy options from the World Wildlife Fund.
Thanks to the innovative workers at the World Wildlife Fund, you can now symbolically adopt a wild animal and support the WWF’s conservation efforts. Choose from a catalogue of wild animals that WWF seeks to support—from the arctic fox to the duck-billed platypus and more—and receive a token in honor of your donation. Each adoption kit comes with a stuffed animal, a real-life photo of the wild animal, an adoption certificate, and a species card with facts about the animal. All donations help make a real-life impact and teach young children the importance of conservation from a young age.
Shop Now: Explore the Catalogue
5. For The Fashionista: Firebird Kids’ Zero-Waste Clothing
Creating clothing with GOTS-certified organic cotton and other high-quality materials, Firebird is leading the way in ethical, sustainable children fashion. All designs strive to embody unisex designs, making it easier for the clothing to be passed down and reused. Their Pass It On resale platform also allows consumers to buy and sell gently used Firebird Kids clothing at reduced prices for credit toward future purchases, believing all clothing should last beyond one child alone.
Shop Now: Explore The Collection
Want to know how to keep your holidays green, beyond the presents? Check out these 5 Tips To Make Your Holiday Festivities More Sustainable This Year.
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Photo: Lucie Liz via Pexels; Ecobricks