Sustainably-minded individuals are always working toward a more carbon-free lifestyle. You own an EV, and you’ve mapped out all your nearby charging stations. You never forget your trendy tote bags and are mindful of where you source your food. You never request plastic utensils with your DoorDash order, and you’ve swapped out every bulb in your home for LEDs. And yet, when it comes to our kids, eco-friendly choices can feel like more of a challenge.
It’s not your fault. Bottom line: babies and children create an unavoidable amount of waste. From baby wipes and diapers to outgrown clothing and shoes, raising kids creates a larger impact on your local landfill. You can opt for cloth diapers and homemade baby foods, but busy parents must settle for convenience every once in a while. Despite their little toes, our kids generate a pretty big footprint on the planet.
When possible, purchasing sustainable products is a simple way to integrate your eco-lifestyle with your role as a parent. For example, organic baby foods, second-hand clothes, and planet-friendly hygiene products are easy to come by and shouldn’t dent your wallet. Plus, there’s even a whole world of eco-friendly toys.
We’ve combed through some of the top parenting blogs to find our favorite sustainable products for playtime. Whether you’re building your own baby registry or purchasing a holiday gift for someone else’s little one, be sure to add these eco-friendly toys to the list.
Move aside American Girl and Mattel — Tender Leaf has a sweet, little collection of eco-friendly dolls and accessories. Made from reclaimed rubberwood, these charming figures are made to last. Plus, the Tender Leaf team is actively involved in their production process, ensuring that workers abroad are treated fairly and make a livable wage. They’ve even earned a seal of approval from the International Council of Toy Industries’ Ethical Toy Program.
It’s too early to think about buying an EV for them, but that doesn’t mean you can’t purchase a sustainable car. The US-based company Green Toys makes affordable toy planes, trains, and cars for kids (we’re especially fond of their cupcake truck). Made from recycled milk jugs, these eco-friendly vehicles are BPA-, phthalates-, and PVC-free. And shopping domestically means your purchases have lower transportation emissions and stimulate the U.S. economy.
Despite efforts to limit screen time, no modern-day parent can ignore the influence of video games. However, rather than diving into the world of Mario or Pokemon, why not opt for a video game with an eco-friendly message? Available on Apple Arcade, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStations, and Xbox, Alba: A Wildlife Adventure is an engaging, kid-friendly game emphasizing ways to protect the environment. Plus, the game makers have committed to planting a tree for every download. Pro-tip: Turn off video game consoles when not in use to avoid unnecessary electricity loss.
Traditional board games aren’t inherently bad for the environment. Besides the production and shipping consequences, board games tend to hold up well, and families can enjoy them for years. However, for the eco-minded parent, there are certain more green-friendly board games from which to choose. Instead of Monopoly or Bingo, select plastic-free games like Jenga or Scrabble. Look for special National Park editions of popular board games like Trivial Pursuit or Yahtzee (the National Park Foundation receives a portion of sales). Finally, check out traditional games made from more sustainable materials, like this playing card deck from Bicycle.
Stuffed animals will always hold a dear place in our hearts (who doesn’t still have their collection of Beanie Babies from the 1990s?). However, parents today are wary of the possible toxins and synthetic materials used in many popular stuffies. Instead, why not choose a more sustainable, organic toy like the darling plush animals from SigiKids? From sheep to elephants to unicorns, this collection features European-made, biodegradable, hypoallergenic, and toxin-free stuffed animals.
Coloring books and accessories like markers and crayons seem relatively low-impact. However, most crayons are made from cheap paraffin wax derived from fossil fuels. All of those tossed broken crayons take decades to decompose. Instead, check out the coloring activity sets from Honeysticks. Affordable and eco-friendly, these products use 100% New Zealand beeswax leftover from the country’s honey production (their crayons actually smell like honey). The food-grade pigment is extra safe for kids, and the coloring books are made from recycled paper. We especially love the bathtub crayons!
The team at Once Kids is working hard to reduce plastic waste and instead create a more environmentally friendly action figure. Their collection of action heroes and evil villains is fully poseable yet made from responsibly sourced wood. Every action figure is customizable and features its own special backstory. While you’re browsing the Once Kids shop, Lego lovers might take a peek at these cool wood or bamboo building blocks.
Remember the days of those Fisher-Price kitchen sets? When you’d whip up some plastic eggs with a side of plastic bacon? Well, today’s kids get to play with these educational activity sets from KiwiCo. With this quirky Baking and Fractions kit, young learners use wooden ingredients to practice their baking and math. The company makes all sorts of creative crates, including an Environmental Science mission. With minimal packaging and eco-friendly materials, these hands-on activity sets are a great way to spark your child’s curiosity.
Each year, millions of children’s toys are thrown away, contributing tons of plastic waste to our landfills and oceans. Whenever possible, try to donate your gently used toys rather than tossing them out. Check out local charities, community boards, police stations, or shelters to see what they might need.
You have so many choices when selecting toys for the kids in your life. Thankfully, there are great, sustainable options that are durable, safe, and wallet-friendly.
Eveelife is an eco-oriented lifestyle platform that helps consumers make more purposeful choices about how they live and what they consume. We do it by curating content and products that help them make more conscious, carbon-free choices while amplifying their EV ownership experience.