From plastic dolls to battery-powered gadgets, up to 80 percent of plastic toys end up in landfills and contribute to pollution and climate change. As parents become more environmentally conscious, they are seeking alternative options for their children’s playtime. They also want toys that go beyond occupying their children and contribute to child development as well.
This is where sustainable and educational toys come into play. Most sustainable toys toys are designed with the environment as well as children’s development in mind, making them a more responsible and beneficial choice for playtime. But what exactly are sustainable toys? And why do they matter? This article will explore the importance of sustainable and educational toys in today’s world, and how they can make a positive impact on our children and the planet.
Benefits of Sustainable and Educational Toys for Kids
Introducing sustainable toys is not only good for the environment, but it can also be beneficial for your child’s development. By choosing toys made from sustainable materials such as wood, bamboo, or recycled plastic, we can help reduce waste and protect our planet for future generations. But these toys also offer another important advantage—they can spark creativity and encourage critical thinking skills.
From a development standpoint, natural materials are better suited for sensory play and development. Kiddos can touch, smell, and safely put them in their mouths. Educational toys such as building blocks, puzzles, and science kits can also help children learn and grow while having fun.
In addition, sustainable toys often have a longer lifespan than their traditional plastic counterparts, meaning they can be used for longer and passed down to younger siblings or friends, ultimately reducing the amount of waste in our landfills. Investing in sustainable and educational toys is an excellent way for parents to contribute to their child’s development while making a positive impact on the environment.
Differentiating Between Traditional Toys and Sustainable/Educational Toys
As we become increasingly aware of the environment and its impact on our lives and future generations, we are beginning to see a shift in the type of toys we choose for our children. Traditional toys may be made from plastic or other non-renewable materials, but sustainable/educational toys are created to be eco-friendly and last for years. Wooden blocks are a great example of sustainable toys, as they are durable, timeless, and can be passed down through generations. Toys that allow for open-ended play encourage creativity, problem-solving, and imagination, which is another crucial element in a child’s development.
How to Find Quality Sustainable and Educational Toys
When it comes to buying toys for children, parents often prioritize quality and safety above all else. With sustainability becoming an important issue in today’s world, finding the balance of educational and sustainable toys has become more important than ever before. So, what should parents look for when buying sustainable toys? First, consider finding a reputable sustainable toy store like Marley & Moose that prioritizes eco-friendly materials in their products.
First and foremost, look for businesses that emphasize sustainability. Are their products made from recycled or biodegradable materials? Do they practice zero waste or have a solid recycling program? Are they transparent about their supply chain and environmental impact? Companies that are committed to sustainability almost always have a dedicated sustainability page on the company website. Additionally, keep an eye out for third-party certifications like the following:
- Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
- Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
- Cradle to Cradle
- 1% for the Planet
Learning Through Play with Sustainable and Educational Toys
Toddlers have an innate sense of curiosity and an eagerness to learn about the world around them. One powerful way to cultivate their learning is through play. Sustainable toy stores like Marley & Moose have a wealth of options for educational and developmentally appropriate toys. For example, wooden blocks are known to promote fine motor skills, spatial awareness, and creativity. Open ended play toys, such as sand and water tables or manipulative toys, give toddlers the opportunity to explore cause and effect relationships and experiment with concepts such as shape, size, and balance. By taking advantage of playtime, toddlers can have fun while enhancing their cognitive, social, and emotional development.
Fun Ideas to Make the Most out of Your New Sustainable and Educational Toys
Wooden Alphabet Blocks
One of the best examples of a toy that can be used through multiple phases of development are alphabet blocks. Babies and young toddlers can work on motor skills, teething, and sensory development by stacking the blocks, feeling the engraved lettering, or just knocking them over. Since they’re a natural material, they’re also safe for the inevitable chewing. As the kiddo develops, you can start to associate the engraved animals, build more complex structures, and start to work on letter recognition. The next phase is working on simple one syllable words and phonics. For more ideas with wooden blocks, check out our blog post on other creative games to play with wooden blocks.
Doll houses aren’t just for playing house anymore! At different stages of development, children can benefit greatly from open-ended play with these miniature abodes. For younger children, playing with a doll house can develop their imagination and fine motor skills. As they get older, doll houses can be used to cultivate social skills and empathy. They encourage children to create and act out scenarios with their dolls. For the older kids, doll houses can be used as a creative outlet by allowing them to design and decorate their own space. Older children can explore more complex storylines or even create their own unique settings. For this reason, doll houses are often even used in play therapy.
These are just a few examples of fun ways to get the most out of sustainable, heirloom quality toys. Toy kitchens, vehicles, blocks, train sets, and things like play silks can all also be used in multiple ways at multiple stages of development. If they’re all made out of high quality sustainable materials, they also last!
I should know! As a father of four, I’ve seen toys put through the gauntlet. With 20+ years experience in early childhood education, Brittany has seen even more. We created Marley & Moose to do our part to have an impact on the amount of waste generated from plastic junk and to help parents provide toys that help kids grow. Check out our store either online or in person and if you have any additional tips or questions let us know in the comments below!