Sustainable, natural, organic, fair trade and ethical toys for young children
The oral stage. You gotta love it. Everything they see, our little darlings put straight into their mouths. Over the years I have watched Little Miss Green try mud, worms, sand, cat food, dog fur, ink and coal. If everything a baby sees goes into their mouth, you have to ask yourself important questions when you choose suitable toys: Are they safe, natural, (organic and fair trade are best) ethical and sustainable?
In recent months we’ve all witnessed recalls of toys made in China. Concerns of lead paint and the date rape drug alongside magnets that can be swallowed makes every Western child that survives childhood appear to be a walking miracle!
Wasn’t it simpler in our day when we played for hours with cardboard boxes and a few old sticks?
Often it is becoming a parent that notches up our enthusiasm for a more ethical, sustainable and natural lifestyle. We suddenly realise the fragility of life and the environment that supports us. We also become aware that children as young as ours are in sweatshops making some of the stuff we insist on buying.
Putting toys into mouths is what children are programmed to do. So, instead of reaching for the cheap, plastic gimmicky toys that might be full of toxic chemicals, spend time looking for more sustainable and healthy choices.
If Fairtrade is your thing, then search www.oxfam.org.uk/shop, http://www.traidcraftshop.co.uk/ and www.bishopstontrading.co.uk. Also have a good browse of www.bafts.org.uk and www.ifat.org to find details of local shops selling fair trade toys.
If doting Grandparents insist on spending money on their grand kids, then send them to three of my favourite sites: Myriadonline, Woodentoysforchildren and Holz toys.
Holz believe that wooden toys should become favourite heirlooms and as such, stock quality toys that will last for generations. The majority of their toys are handcrafted or hand finished from Alder or Beech wood which come from sensitively managed forests. The oils and paints used are totally non-toxic and most toys are finished with linseed.
Myriadonline stock Waldorf Steiner inspired goodies. They sell hand-crafted organically shaped natural wooden toys, plant dye art materials, craft supplies, books and musical instruments that encourage meaningful, creative play.
The wood used in Myriad’s products comes from European forest plantations, the wood is indigenous, and the by-products are either recycled or used for heating. The colours used are water-based and the finish is natural oil blends or shellac. With the exception of a range of dolls from a single mothers’ cooperative in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the products in their catalogue are made in Western Europe by people paid a fair wage for their skills, working in clean and safe environments.
Woodentoysforchildren is the creation of John Johnson. He is a skilled craftsman who has been producing hand sculptured wooden toys crafted out of English hardwoods since 1985. All of his toys are hand finished with linseed oil.
In further articles, I’ll discuss frugal, sustainable and home made toys (including every child’s favourite – the cardboard box!)