Eco kids: toys and clothes
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Date: 6 June, 2010


'The pieces are coloured with natural dyes and stick together without glue and will biodegrade in the compost bin when the children have finished with them.'

Suzanne Elvidge offers a guide to eco-friendly toys and clothes for our little ones

Do you have kids? Probably, if you are reading this article. Kids have to have clothes (otherwise winter would rather chilly) and toys are fun, but this does generate a lot of ‘stuff’, not all of it very eco-friendly or ethical.

Eco toys

Many toys are mass produced using plastics. Plastic is polluting the ocean, and there are health concerns with certain ingredients in plastic.

But there are alternatives – corn-based PlayMais really is a-maize-ing (sorry – couldn’t resist it). The maize pieces are coloured with natural dyes and stick together without glue. They will biodegrade in the compost bin when the children have finished with them.

Cardboard is the perfect material for eco toys – it is light and sturdy, folds away after use and even biodegrades or can be recycled.

Choose from a fort, a castle, a doll’s house (and furniture), an aeroplane, cardboard building blocks, even an igloo! You can also make your own toys from cardboard boxes.

Batteries are the bane of many parents’ lives – if you can find the right size, it goes flat within moments, and disposable batteries pollute the environment.

Keep rechargeable batteries in stock, or go for wind-up toys, such as this Eco Duck or Mr Robot Head.

Everyone needs something to cuddle, however young or old he or she is. There are eco-cuddlies for every taste, from a fair trade Little Blue Pony to a Cuddly Pig.

You don’t even have to buy toys – there are lots of websites with instructions on making your own, including baby toys, soft toys, science toys or toys from things around the house – in fact all kinds of toys.

Eco clothes and shoes

Buying clothes can be an eco minefield – cotton requires huge quantities of pesticides to grow, artificial fibres are polluting and are not biodegradable, and sweatshops exploit people in the developing world.

But there are other choices – companies producing eco-friendly and ethical clothing for children, from the tiniest babies to school-age boys.

Eco kids clothes can go from head to tail – from the top with a fair trade stripy hat to the bottom with recycled shoes (or recycle their old jeans into slippers).

Don’t forget something to put their locally-sourced lunch in – a very cute Japanese dolls bag made from recycled plastic, or an organic gym bag.

And rather than buying, making clothes for kids using recycled (or ‘repurposed’ fabric, is just about as eco as you can get!

Passing it on

Because children grow out of things so quickly, swap parties, recycling groups like Freecycle, RealCycle and Freegle are great places to get (and pass on) out-grown things.

Check out the recycling group finder for the closest one, and don’t forget about charity shops – these are a green way to shop and raise money for local and national groups too.

Further reading

20 Ways to Go Green with your clothes

Charlotte Haines Lyon’s Ethical Parent column

Oh nappy day!

Ethical fashion



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