What Are the Different Types of Environmentally-Friendly Toys?

Tara Barnett

Environmentally-friendly toys are usually new products that minimize their impact on the environment during the stages of production. Locally made and used toys are also sometimes considered environmentally-friendly. Usually, toys that are considered green are made from materials like bamboo and organic cotton, although recycled materials are popular as well. From many perspectives, toys must also have minimal packaging, sustainable transportation, and sometimes other features as well in order to be considered green. These products can be made for all age levels and for all sorts of games and activities.

Rubberwood is a green choice for toys.
Rubberwood is a green choice for toys.

The types of environmentally-friendly toys available usually depend on demand. Environmentally-friendly toys for young children are often the most popular, particularly because parents often want natural and non-plastic playthings for younger children. Older children often want more complex toys, which can be difficult to make in an environmentally-friendly fashion. Most of the time, green toys take the form of simple things like dolls, blocks, and puzzles that can be made of wood and cloth.

Puzzles and other playthings can be made from wood that is easily renewable.
Puzzles and other playthings can be made from wood that is easily renewable.

Wood toys are very popular green toys. Puzzles, dolls, and other playthings can be made from wood that is easily renewable and therefore green. Some of these are made from wood that would otherwise be discarded, like rubberwood. Bamboo is extremely popular for green toys and can be made into objects of many different shapes and sizes.

Organic fabrics, like organic cotton, are often used to make children's playthings that are not only green but also less likely to contain harmful chemicals. Dolls, soft toys, and other objects can all make use of organic fabrics. These usually considered environmentally friendly not because they use up fewer resources than other materials, but because they use fewer chemicals.

Recycling is almost always considered environmentally friendly, but it must be done very carefully in order to make toys that are safe for children. Reusing glass, plastic, and other materials can be a good way to make products that must contain certain materials more environmentally friendly. Some of the greenest toys are not recycled but simply made to last for generations. Reducing waste, reusing items, and repairing toys when possible are all good strategies to prevent additional resources from being used.

Some people have additional standards for green toys that reduce environmental impact. Packaging, for example, must be minimal and, when possible, reusable. Many people maintain that in order to be maximally environmentally friendly, a toy must be made locally from local materials, because this cuts down on transportation costs. Looking at the total environmental cost of making the product is important when thinking about whether it is green. Just because a toy is marketed as environmentally friendly does not mean that the producers believe in the same standards of environmental protection as consumers.

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